The Making of an Explorer

Columbus washes up (literally) on Portugal’s shores when pirates attack his ship, a fire breaks out, and everyone is forced to jump into the water. Columbus, “who was a strong swimmer . . . swam for two leagues (seven miles) to the closest land, holding onto an oar to get some rest along the way . . . After drying off his clothes and resting his weary limbs, he made his way to Lisbon where he found a community of Italian financiers, merchants, and nautical experts deeply involved in Portugal’s ventures of exploration.”

“Columbus spent a decade in Portugal, developing his nautical knowledge and conceiving his audacious plan. His training proceeded along multiple avenues. On a practical level, he traveled in the company of Portuguese seamen and learned from them about voyaging in deep-blue water. In 1478, less than two years after his accidental arrival in Portugal, Columbus cast off into the open Atlantic to purchase sugar on the island of Madeira.”

Conquering the Pacific: An Unknown Mariner and the Final Great Voyage of the Age of Discovery, p. 25

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