Leander Passage from Puerto Rico to Bahamas: Day 5

We arrived at George Town, Bahamas, at 13:45, on 20 May. The trip of 745 nautical miles from Culebra, Puerto Rico took us five days and three hours. We motored 14 miles, motor-sailed 270, and sailed 461. We are 1,120 miles away from Massachusetts.

We passed by San Salvador Island as the sun went down on our last night of sailing. Having departed from the same place that Columbus had on the other side of the Atlantic, San Sebastian de La Gomera, having traveled at almost exactly the same speed, and having now raised the island that was his landfall in the Americas, we got a good sense of the scope of his trip.

San Salvador did not present a very impressive profile. It has a low and unremarkable outline. It does not provide great protection, either, and would not have been a comfortable place to spend a good amount of time. All that said, what a thrill it must have given the men to have sailed west, into an indefinite expanse of ocean, and find land — the “western” part of “India,” or the West Indies, as Columbus believed. It takes a long time to get here by boat. The crew supposedly felt uneasy about their ability to find land sailing west-about. I would also think that, after weeks of sailing down-wind in strong winds and boisterous seas, they must have wondered how the heck they would get back comfortably against current and wind, in a square-rigged sailing ship that would not have moved into the wind very well at all.

Once again, it was nice to get in. We can feel the weather changing here. Each night for the past several nights, powerful electrical storms have provided a fireworks show in the sky, often times in multiple locations at once. Fortunately, none have passed directly through us, but we have been amazed by their power. It isn’t a flash here and there, but rather a steady stream of light and activity – non-stop — for hours at time. The warm waters, it would seem, are starting to brew their summer storms. Time to continue north.

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