Posts Tagged With: Ships

Deep sea salvage: Finding long lost treasures of the deep…


Gold coins brought up from the SS Republic by Odyssey Marine ExplorationRaiding Davy Jones’s Locker: Gold coins brought up from the SS Republic by Odyssey Marine Exploration

Far beneath the ocean waves, nestling silently on cold dark sea beds around the world, lie the remains of about three million shipwrecks.

And that’s a conservative estimate by Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

They have fascinated generations of artists, writers, anthropologists and scientists.

Many mark the final resting place of their crew and passengers. Some are hundreds of years old, a time capsule from distant ways of life.

All are guardians of the treasures that sank along with them – be they in the form of uniquely preserved cultural heritage or cold hard cash.

Excavators of the Tudor ship the Mary Rose, which sank off the English coast in 1545, found 500 pairs of shoes among the 19,000 artefacts retrieved from the site, many of which are now on display.

The SS Gairsoppa on the other hand, a steam ship sunk by a German U-boat off the Irish coast in 1941, went down with over 110 tonnes of silver on board.

In 2010 a US-based company called Odyssey Marine Exploration won a tender put out by the government to retrieve that silver from its resting place, 4,500m below sea level – one mile deeper than the Titanic.

Artefacts on display from the wreck of the Mary RoseArtefacts on display from the wreck of the Mary Rose
The Odyssey ExplorerThe Odyssey Explorer

Deep down

That sort of depth can only be reached by machine (the deepest recorded human scuba dive is currently 332m, according to Guinness World Records) and getting there is, to put it mildly, a technical challenge.

“Ten years ago you couldn’t possibly have done it,” Andrew Craig, senior project manager onboard Odyssey Marine vessel Explorer, told the BBC.

“It would have cost so much. Just getting a work class ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to 5,000m – they’re just not built because there’s so little requirement for them.”

It took 3.5 hours for Explorer’s onboard ROV, a 6.5-tonne vehicle named Zeus, to make each journey between the ship and the site of the wreck.

Odyssey's eight-tonne remotely operated vehicle (ROV), ZeusOdyssey’s eight-tonne remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Zeus, is launched from the surface vessel, Odyssey Explorer, for descent to a deep-ocean shipwreck site
Zeus works at the rudder of the SS Republic shipwreck site, 1,700 feet below the ocean surfaceZeus works at the rudder of the SS Republic shipwreck site, 1,700ft below the ocean surface
Zeus finds a porthole on the site of the SS RepublicZeus finds a porthole on the site of the SS Republic

With any sort of deep sea exploration, positioning is crucial. The proverbial needle in the haystack is much harder to find when it’s floating in gallons of sea water, surrounded by marine life, and you can’t use your fingers to feel for it.

“You want to know to within 10-15 cm where things are – and you need to be able to go back to them repeatedly,” says Mr Craig.

In addition to Explorer’s onboard sonar scanners and magnetometers (a kind of deep sea metal detector also used by the military to seek out submarines), Zeus has been equipped with an Inertial Navigation System.

This captures a range of data from numerous sensors, not only to navigate a path, but also to remember where it has been. It cost over £100,000 ($157,000; €126,000) and is just one of many sensors used by the team in guiding the ROV.

Better batteries

The technology advances still on Andrew Craig’s wish list are surprisingly familiar.

The first is better wireless communication – ROVs still need to send data and receive instructions by fibre-optic cable, meaning they remain tethered to the ship.

The second is truly universal – better battery life.

“On our largest dive the ROV spent five and a half days on the bottom,” he says.

“But we had to come up when the battery went on the beacon.”

SS Gairsoppa shipwreckA ladder leading up onto the forecastle deck of the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck approximately 4,700m deep. One of the cargo holds can be seen on the left
The SS Gairsoppa had an emergency stern steering station on the top of the poop deckThe SS Gairsoppa had an emergency stern steering station on the top of the poop deck
A side-scan sonar image of the SS GairsoppaA side-scan sonar image of the SS Gairsoppa

It’s fair to say that deep sea shipwreck exploration is eye-wateringly expensive.

The cost of running a research ship such as the Explorer is about $35,000 (£22,000; €28,000) per day, including staff.

Those boats can get through five to 10 tonnes of fuel per day at $1,000 per tonne.

“You can be onboard for six months to a year to do a proper exploration,” says Mr Craig. “You’re into the millions very quickly.”

Not surprisingly, funding is hard to obtain.

Odyssey Marine operates by keeping – and selling – a share of valuable hauls, while retaining items of cultural note and offering them up for display in museums. The firm kept 80% of the value of SS Gairsoppa’s silver as part of its tender agreement.

“Odyssey Marine Exploration is very open about its business model,” says Dr Sean Kingsley, founder of Wreck Watch and a company consultant.

“The concept ensures that unique cultural artefacts are permanently retained for museum display, while types of trade goods known by the thousands in museums across the world are considered for sale to cover expedition costs.

“Income is cycled back to pay for the expensive science: make no bones about it, deep sea wreck studies is by far the most expensive arena in archaeology,” he adds.

Not everybody agrees with this commercialisation.

When Unesco drew up its Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention in 2001 it specifically blocked what it called “commercial exploitation”, and encouraged “in situ preservation” as its “preferred option” – permitting the removal of artefacts and the lifting of wrecks only for cultural rather than financial reasons.

Critics of the convention point out that iconic excavation projects like the raising of the Mary Rose would have been inconceivable under its rules, and just 44 of Unesco’s 195 member states have ratified it to date.

Odyssey's Andrew Craig (right) on the deck of the Odyssey ExplorerOdyssey’s Andrew Craig (right) on the deck of the Odyssey Explorer
A silver bar recovered from the wreck of the SS GairsoppaA silver bar recovered from the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa
Recovering silver bullion from the SS GairsoppaRecovering silver bullion from the SS Gairsoppa

Diving down

Of course, not all of the world’s wrecks are overwhelmingly inaccessible.

It is not uncommon for amateur scuba divers and even beach walkers to also find themselves in possession of shipwreck bounty.

In the UK, a government official called the Receiver of Wreck is responsible for identifying and trying to trace the ownership of any artefacts from the seabed in UK waters – or brought into the country from elsewhere.

In 2013 the department received more than 300 reports detailing more than 36,000 found items – and the majority came from recreational divers, deputy receiver Beccy Austin told the BBC.

The most commonly reported artefacts include portholes, fixtures and fittings, navigational equipment, and ship bells, she says.

The department has one year to attempt to establish ownership.

“The law says the onus is on the owner to prove ownership, but lots of owners don’t realise they are the owners,” says Ms Austin.

“Reaction is varied – some are really interested, others see their wreck as a liability.”

A number of 19th Century ceramic transfer print soap dishes handed to the Receiver of WreckA number of 19th Century ceramic transfer print soap dishes handed to the Receiver of Wreck
A United East India Company bronze cannon dated 1807A United East India Company bronze cannon dated 1807. The number four was used to ward off evil

Often those owners will be government defence ministries or insurance companies.

Many simply allow the finder to keep their find, although they have no legal right to do so, she adds.

Astonishingly, about 60% of finds are traced to their rightful owner, but if the investigation fails, the artefact becomes the property of the Crown.

Either way, the finder is entitled to a salvage award, which is negotiated by the finder and owner – a fair combination of a percentage of the market value plus the effort gone to by the salver. It can be up to 90%.

The Crown, however, does not pay the award – the Receiver will generally try to find a suitable museum for the artefact.

Sometimes ancient material can find a surprising new lease of life once it is back on land.

In 2010 Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics used 120 ingots of lead, retrieved from a Roman shipwreck, to conduct a major investigation into neutrinos.

The ancient lead was useful because it had lost all its radioactivity – but Donatella Salvi, an archaeologist at the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari where it had been kept, admitted to the science journal Nature that handing the ingots over was “painful”.

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Lights over Huston…..


What WAS this bright circle of lights over Houston? Bright, oval UFO photographed hovering above city’s stormy skies…..lit1 lit2http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2727587/UFO-Houston-Bright-oval-object-photographed-hovering-citys-stormy-skies.html

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Movies predict the future??…..


Astronomers this week claim something wierd is happening on Saturn’s moon Mimas. There’s something strange going on below the surface of Mimas, a new study suggests.

Mimas’ rotation and its orbit around Saturn make the moon look like it’s rocking and back forth and oscillating similar to the way a pendulum swings

Something else of interest. Saturn’s moon Mimas looks very much like the death star from Star Wars. Star Wars was released in 1977. The first close ups of Mimas were taken from the Pioneer Spacecraft in 1979!

moon moon2

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June 13: 19-Year Old Helps America Win Independence….Marquis de Lafayette.


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Born September 6, 1757, his father died before he was two-years-old; and his mother died when he was twelve, leaving him to inherit their fortune.

At 14-years-old, he joined the French Military and, at age 16, became a captain.

He married Marie Adrienne Francoise de Noailles, whose family was related to King Louis XVI.

His name was Marquis de Lafayette.

At 19, against the King’s wishes, Lafayette purchased a ship and persuaded several French officers to accompany him to fight in the American Revolution, arriving JUNE 13, 1777.

Trained in the French Military, he was a descendant of one of the oldest French families, with ancestors who fought in the Crusades and alongside of Joan of Arc.

Commander-in-Chief George Washington appointed Lafayette a Major General in the Continental Army, though Lafayette paid his own expenses.

Lafayette endured the freezing winter at Valley Forge, was wounded at Brandywine, and fought with distinction at the Battles of Gloucester, Barren Hill, Monmouth, Rhode Island, and Green Spring.

Returning to France, Lafayette worked with Ben Franklin to persuade King Louis XVI to send General Rochambeau with ships and 6,000 French soldiers to America’s aid.

Lafayette led troops against the traitor Benedict Arnold, and commanded at Yorktown, helping to pressure Cornwallis to surrender.

George Washington considered Lafayette like a son, and belatedly wrote back to him from Mount Vernon, on June 25, 1785:

“My Dear Marquis…I stand before you as a culprit: but to repent and be forgiven are the precepts of Heaven: I do the former, do you practice the latter, and it will be participation of a divine attribute.

Yet I am not barren of excuses for this seeming inattention; frequent absences from home, a round of company when at it, and the pressure of many matters, might be urged as apologies for my long silence…

I now congratulate you, and my heart does it more effectually than my pen, on your safe arrival in Paris, from your voyage to this Country.”

Lafayette joined the French abolitionist Society of the Friends of the Blacks, which advocated the end of the slave trade and equal rights for blacks.

On May 10, 1786, George Washington wrote from Mount Vernon to Marquis de Lafayette:

“Your late purchase of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view of emancipating the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit would diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country.”

On August 15, 1787, in a letter from Philadelphia to the Marquis de Lafayette, Washington wrote:

“I am not less ardent in my wish that you may succeed in your plan of toleration in religious matters.

Being no bigot myself to any mode of worship, I am disposed to indulge the professors of Christianity in the church with that road to Heaven which to them shall seem the most direct, plainest and easiest, and the least liable to exception.”

On May 28, 1788, George Washington wrote to Marquis de Lafayette regarding the U.S. Constitution:

I will confess to you sincerely, my dear Marquis; it will be so much beyond any thing we had a right to imagine or expect eighteen months ago, that it will demonstrate as visibly the Finger of Providence, as any possible event in the course of human affairs can ever designate it.”

When the French Revolution began, President Washington wrote to Marquis de Lafayette, on July 28, 1791:

“I assure you I have often contemplated, with great anxiety, the danger to which you are personally exposed…

To a philanthropic mind the happiness of 24 millions of people cannot be indifferent; and by an American, whose country in the hour of distress received such liberal aid from the French, the disorders and incertitude of that Nation are to be particularly lamented.

We must, however, place a confidence in that Providence who rules great events, trusting that out of confusion He will produce order, and, notwithstanding the dark clouds which may threaten at present, that right will ultimately be established….

On the 6 of this month I returned from a tour through the southern States, which had employed me for more than three months. In the course of this journey I have been highly gratified in observing the flourishing state of the Country, and the good dispositions of the people.

Industry and economy have become very fashionable in these parts, which were formerly noted for the opposite qualities, and the labors of man are assisted by the Blessings of Providence.”

Lafayette tried to maintain order in France as the French Revolution began, but fell out of favor.

He was eventually imprisoned for five years, with his wife and two daughters choosing to be imprisoned with him.

Napoleon negotiated his release.

On June 10, 1792, from Philadelphia, President Washington wrote to Marquis de Lafayette:

“And to the Care of that Providence, whose interposition and protection we have so often experienced, do I cheerfully commit you and your nation, trusting that He will bring order out of confusion, and finally place things upon the ground on which they ought to stand.”

Jefferson asked him to be the Governor of the Louisiana Territory, but he declined.

Fifty years after the Revolution began, Marquis de Lafayette visited America. He traveled over 6,000 miles to 24 States.

On June 17, 1825, the cornerstone for the Bunker Hill Monument was laid.

Daniel Webster spoke to a crowd of 20,000, which included General Marquis de Lafayette:

“God has granted you this sight of your country’s happiness ere you slumber in the grave forever.

He has allowed you to behold and to partake the reward of your patriotic toils; and He has allowed to us, your sons and countrymen, to meet you here, and in the name of the present generation, in the name of your country, in the name of liberty to thank you!”

Many ships, streets, parks, and cities were named after him, including Fayetteville, North Carolina.

When word came to America that Marquis de Lafayette had died, President Andrew Jackson wrote to Congress, on June 21, 1834:

“The afflicting intelligence of the death of the illustrious Lafayette has been received by me this morning.

I have issued the general order inclosed to cause appropriate honors to be paid by the Army and Navy to the memory of one so highly venerated and beloved by my countrymen, and whom Providence has been pleased to remove so unexpectedly from the agitating scenes of life.”
statue

 

 

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This Week in the Civil War…..


On a moonlight night 150 years ago this month in the Civil War, the hand-cranked Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sailed from its moorings on the South Carolina coast and into the history books. It was to become the first submarine ever to sink an enemy warship. On Feb. 17, 1864, the Hunley sank the Union ship Housatonic as the Confederates desperately tried to break the Civil War blockade then strangling Charleston. While the Housatonic sank, so did the Hunley. The combat saw the submarine crew set off a black powder charge at the end of a 200-pound spar, sinking the ship before the sub itself went down. The remains of the eight-member Hunley crew would be recovered more than a century later. In April of 2004, thousands of men in Confederate gray and Union blue — as well as women in black hoop skirts and veils — walked in a procession with the crew’s coffins from Charleston’s waterfront to a cemetery in what was called the last Confederate funeral.

hl-hunley-confederate-submarine h-l-hunley-submarine

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Sunken Egyptian city reveals 1,200-year-old secrets……


Heracleion2
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Until a decade ago, no one knew if Heracleion, believed to be an ancient harbor city, was fiction or real. Now, reports the Telegraph, the researchers who found it—150 feet beneath the surface of Egypt’s Bay of Aboukir—are sharing some of the amazing historical artifacts preserved there.
The finds include 64 ships, 16-foot-tall statues, 700 anchors and countless gold coins and smaller artifacts.
According to underwater archeologist Franck Goddio, credited with having discovered the site, the city was probably built sometime around the 8th century B.C., which makes it older than the famed city of Alexandria. Over the years, it fell victim to a number of natural disasters before being swallowed by the sea, probably around A.D. 700.
“We are just at the beginning of our research,” said Goddio. “We will probably have to continue working for the next 200 years for [it] to be fully revealed and understood.”
It’s believed that gradual soil erosion eventually caused Heracleion to fall into the Mediterranean. “It is now clear that a slow movement of subsidence of the soil affected this part of the south-eastern basin of the Mediterranean,” Goddio writes on his site. “The rise in sea level—already observed in antiquity—also contributed significantly to the submergence of the land.”
The Telegraph reports that researchers are beginning to more fully understand what daily life was like in the city, also called “Thonis.” Mainly, they describe it as having served as the main hub for sea traffic entering the region, including all trade from Greece.
“We are getting a rich picture of things like the trade that was going on there and the nature of the maritime economy in the Egyptian late period,” Damian Robinson, director of the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Oxford, told the Telegraph. Robinson is part of the team that has been busy uncovering artifacts from Heracleion’s sunken remains.
“It was the major international trading port for Egypt at this time,” Robinson added. “It is where taxation was taken on import and export duties. All of this was run by the main temple.”
The city is also believed to have had a rich cultural history. Helen was said to have visited it with her lover Paris shortly before the onset of the Trojan War.

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New 3D Map of Civil War Shipwreck Released……


On this day (Jan. 11) in 1863, a Union warship was sunk in a skirmish with a Confederate vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.
Exactly 150 years later, a new 3D map of the USS Hatteras has been released that shows what the remains of the warship look like. The Hatteras rests on the ocean floor about 20 miles (32 kilometers) off Galveston, Texas, according to a release from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which helped to sponsor the expedition to map the shipwreck.
The Hatteras was sunk in a battle with the Confederate raider CSS Alabama, and was the only Union warship sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War.

http://news.yahoo.com/3d-map-civil-war-shipwreck-released-152611934.html

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1492….Privileges and Prerogatives Granted by Their Catholic Majesties to Christopher Columbus


1492
FERDINAND and ELIZABETH, by the Grace of God, King and Queen of Castile, of Leon, of Arragon, of Sicily, of Granada, of Toledo, of Valencia, of Galicia, of Majorca, of Minorca, of Sevil, of Sardinia, of Jaen, of Algarve, of Algezira, of Gibraltar, of the Canary Islands, Count and Countess of Barcelona, Lord and Lady of Biscay and Molina, Duke and Duchess of Athens and Neopatria. Count and Countess of Rousillion and Cerdaigne, Marquess and Marchioness of Oristan and Gociano, &c.

For as much of you, Christopher Columbus, are going by our command, with some of our vessels and men, to discover and subdue some Islands and Continent in the ocean, and it is hoped that by God’s assistance, some of the said Islands and Continent in the ocean will be discovered and conquered by your means and conduct, therefore it is but just and reasonable, that since you expose yourself to such danger to serve us, you should be rewarded for it. And we being willing to honour and favour You for the reasons aforesaid: Our will is, That you, Christopher Columbus, after discovering and conquering the said Islands and Continent in the said ocean, or any of them, shall be our Admiral of the said Islands and Continent you shall so discover and conquer; and that you be our Admiral, Vice-Roy, and Governour in them, and that for the future, you may call and stile yourself, D. Christopher Columbus, and that your sons and successors in the said employment, may call themselves Dons, Admirals, Vice-Roys, and Governours of them; and that you may exercise the office of Admiral, with the charge of Vice-Roy and Governour of the said Islands and Continent, which you and your Lieutenants shall conquer, and freely decide all causes, civil and criminal, appertaining to the said employment of Admiral, Vice-Roy, and Governour, as you shall think fit in justice, and as the Admirals of our kingdoms use to do; and that you have power to punish offenders; and you and your Lieutenants exercise the employments of Admiral, Vice-Roy, and Governour, in all things belonging to the said offices, or any of them; and that you enjoy the perquisites and salaries belonging to the said employments, and to each of them, in the same manner as the High Admiral of our kingdoms does. And by this our letter, or a copy of it signed by a Public Notary: We command Prince John, our most dearly beloved Son, the Infants, Dukes, Prelates, Marquesses, Great Masters and Military Orders, Priors. Commendaries, our Counsellors, Judges, and other Officers of Justice whatsoever, belonging Courts, and Chancery, and Constables of Castles, Strong Houses, and others; and all Corporations, Bayliffs, Governours, Judges, Commanders, Sea Officers; and the Aldermen, Common Council, Officers, and Good People of all Cities, Lands, and Places in our Kingdoms and Dominions, and in those you shall conquer and subdue, and the captains masters, mates, and other officers and sailors, our natural subjects now being, or that shall be for the time to come, and any of them that when you shall have discovered the said Islands and Continent in the ocean; and you, or any that shall have your commission, shall have taken the usual oath in such cases, that they for the future, look upon you as long as you live, and after you, your son and heir, and so from one heir to another forever, as our Admiral on our said Ocean, and as Vice-Roy and Governour of the said Islands and Continent, by you, Christopher Columbus, discovered and conquered; and that they treat you and your Lieutenants, by you appointed, for executing the employments of Admiral, Vice-Roy, and Governour, as such in all respects, and give you all the perquisites and other things belonging and appertaining to the said offices; and allow, and cause to be allowed you, all the honours, graces, concessions, prehaminences, prerogatives, immunities, and other things, or any of them which are due to you, by virtue of your commands of Admiral, Vice-Roy, and Governour, and to be observed completely, so that nothing be diminished; and that they make no objection to this, or any part of it, nor suffer it to be made; forasmuch as we from this time forward, by this our letter, bestow on you the employments of Admiral, Vice-Roy, and perpetual Governour forever; and we put you into possession of the said offices, and of every of them, and full power to use and exercise them, and to receive the perquisites and salaries belonging to them, or any of them, as was said above. Concerning all which things, if it be requisite, and you shall desire it, We command our Chancellour, Notaries, and other Officers, to pass, seal, and deliver to you, our Letter of Privilege, in such form and legal manner, as you shall require or stand in need of. And that none of them presume to do any thing to the contrary, upon pain of our displeasure, and forfeiture of 30 ducats for each offence. And we command him, who shall show them this our Letter, that he summon them to appear before us at our Court, where we shall then be, within fifteen days after such summons, under the said penalty. Under which same, we also command any Public Notary whatsoever, that he give to him that shows it him, a certificate under his seal, that we may know how our command is obeyed.

GIVEN at Granada, on the 30th of April, in the year of our Lord, 1492.-

I, THE KING, I, THE QUEEN.

By their Majesties Command,

John Coloma

Secretary to the King and Queen.

Entered according to order.

RODERICK. Doctor.

SEBASTIAN DOLONA,

FRANCIS DE MADRID,

Councellors.

Registered

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The Letter of Columbus to Luis De Sant Angel Announcing His Discovery….1493


As I know you will be rejoiced at the glorious success that our Lord has given me in my voyage, I write this to tell you how in thirty-three days I sailed to the Indies with the fleet that the illustrious King and Queen, our Sovereigns, gave me, where I discovered a great many islands, inhabited by numberless people; and of all I have taken possession for their Highnesses by proclamation and display of the Royal Standard without opposition. To the first island I discovered I gave the name of San Salvador, in commemoration of His Divine Majesty, who has wonderfully granted all this. The Indians call it Guanaham. The second I named the Island of Santa Maria de Concepcion; the third, Fernandina; the fourth, Isabella; the fifth, Juana; and thus to each one I gave a new name. When I came to Juana, I followed the coast of that isle toward the west, and found it so extensive that I thought it might be the mainland, the province of Cathay; and as I found no towns nor villages on the sea-coast, except a few small settlements, where it was impossible to speak to the people, because they fled at once, I continued the said route, thinking I could not fail to see some great cities or towns; and finding at the end of many leagues that nothing new appeared, and that the coast led northward, contrary to my wish, because the winter had already set in, I decided to make for the south, and as the wind also was against my proceeding, I determined not to wait there longer, and turned back to a certain harbor whence I sent two men to find out whether there was any king or large city. They explored for three days, and found countless small communities and people, without number, but with no kind of government, so they returned.

I heard from other Indians I had already taken that this land was an island, and thus followed the eastern coast for one hundred and seven leagues, until I came to the end of it. From that point I saw another isle to the eastward, at eighteen leagues’ distance, to which I gave the name of Hispaniola. I went thither and followed its northern coast to the east, as I had done in Juana, one hundred and seventy-eight leagues eastward, as in Juana. This island, like all the others, is most extensive. It has many ports along the sea-coast excelling any in Christendom — and many fine, large, flowing rivers. The land there is elevated, with many mountains and peaks incomparably higher than in the centre isle. They are most beautiful, of a thousand varied forms, accessible, and full of trees of endless varieties, so high that they seem to touch the sky, and I have been told that they never lose their foliage. I saw them as green and lovely as trees are in Spain in the month of May. Some of them were covered with blossoms, some with fruit, and some in other conditions, according to their kind. The nightingale and other small birds of a thousand kinds were singing in the month of November when I was there. There were palm trees of six or eight varieties, the graceful peculiarities of each one of them being worthy of admiration as are the other trees, fruits and grasses. There are wonderful pine woods, and very extensive ranges of meadow land. There is honey, and there are many kinds of birds, and a great variety of fruits. Inland there are numerous mines of metals and innumerable people. Hispaniola is a marvel. Its hills and mountains, fine plains and open country, are rich and fertile for planting and for pasturage, and for building towns and villages. The seaports there are incredibly fine, as also the magnificent rivers, most of which bear gold. The trees, fruits and grasses differ widely from those in Juana. There are many spices and vast mines of gold and other metals in this island. They have no iron, nor steel, nor weapons, nor are they fit for them, because although they are well-made men of commanding stature, they appear extraordinarily timid. The only arms they have are sticks of cane, cut when in seed, with a sharpened stick at the end, and they are afraid to use these. Often I have sent two or three men ashore to some town to converse with them, and the natives came out in great numbers, and as soon as they saw our men arrive, fled without a moment’s delay although I protected them from all injury.

At every point where I landed, and succeeded in talking to them, I gave them some of everything I had — cloth and many other things — without receiving anything in return, but they are a hopelessly timid people. It is true that since they have gained more confidence and are losing this fear, they are so unsuspicious and so generous with what they possess, that no one who had not seen it would believe it. They never refuse anything that is asked for. They even offer it themselves, and show so much love that they would give their very hearts. Whether it be anything of great or small value, with any trifle of whatever kind, they are satisfied. I forbade worthless things being given to them, such as bits of broken bowls, pieces of glass, and old straps, although they were as much pleased to get them as if they were the finest jewels in the world. One sailor was found to have got for a leathern strap, gold of the weight of two and a half castellanos, and others for even more worthless things much more; while for a new blancas they would give all they had, were it two or three castellanos of pure gold or an arroba or two of spun cotton. Even bits of the broken hoops of wine casks they accepted, and gave in return what they had, like fools, and it seemed wrong to me. I forbade it, and gave a thousand good and pretty things that I had to win their love, and to induce them to become Christians, and to love and serve their Highnesses and the whole Castilian nation, and help to get for us things they have in abundance, which are necessary to us. They have no religion, nor idolatry, except that they all believe power and goodness to be in heaven. They firmly believed that I, with my ships and men, came from heaven, and with this idea I have been received everywhere, since they lost fear of me. They are, however, far from being ignorant. They are most ingenious men, and navigate these seas in a wonderful way, and describe everything well, but they never before saw people wearing clothes, nor vessels like ours. Directly I reached the Indies in the first isle I discovered, I took by force some of the natives, that from them we might gain some information of what there was in these parts; and so it was that we immediately understood each other, either by words or signs. They are still with me and still believe that I come from heaven. They were the first to declare this wherever I went, and the others ran from house to house, and to the towns around, crying out, “Come ! come! and see the man from heaven!” Then all, both men and women, as soon as they were reassured about us, came, both small and great, all bringing something to eat and to drink, which they presented with marvellous kindness. In these isles there are a great many canoes, something like rowing boats, of all sizes, and most of them are larger than an eighteen-oared galley. They are not so broad, as they are made of a single plank, but a galley could not keep up with them in rowing, because they go with incredible speed, and with these they row about among all these islands, which are innumerable, and carry on their commerce. I have seen some of these canoes with seventy and eighty men in them, and each had an oar. In all the islands I observed little difference in the appearance of the people, or in their habits and language, except that they understand each other, which is remarkable. Therefore I hope that their Highnesses will decide upon the conversion of these people to our holy faith, to which they seem much inclined. I have already stated how I sailed one hundred and seven leagues along the sea-coast of Juana, in a straight line from west to east. I can therefore assert that this island is larger than England and Scotland together, since beyond these one hundred and seven leagues there remained at the west point two provinces where I did not go, one of which they call Avan, the home of men with tails. These provinces are computed to be fifty or sixty leagues in length, as far as can be gathered from the Indians with me, who are acquainted with all these islands. This other, Hispaniola, is larger in circumference than all Spain from Catalonia to Fuentarabia in Biscay, since upon one of its four sides I sailed one hundred and eighty-eight leagues from west to east. This is worth having, and must on no account be given up. I have taken possession of all these islands, for their Highnesses, and all may be more extensive than I know, or can say, and I hold them for their Highnesses, who can command them as absolutely as the kingdoms of Castile. In Hispaniola, in the most convenient place, most accessible for the gold mines and all commerce with the mainland on this side or with that of the great Khan, on the other, with which there would be great trade and profit, I have taken possession of a large town, which I have named the City of Navidad. I began fortifications there which should be completed by this time, and I have left in it men enough to hold it, with arms, artillery, and provisions for more than a year; and a boat with a master seaman skilled in the arts necessary to make others; I am so friendly with the king of that country that he was proud to call me his brother and hold me as such. Even should he change his mind and wish to quarrel with my men, neither he nor his subjects know what arms are, nor wear clothes, as I have said. They are the most timid people in the world, so that only the men remaining there could destroy the whole region, and run no risk if they know how to behave themselves properly. In all these islands the men seem to be satisfied with one wife except they allow as many as twenty to their chief or men. The women appear to me to work harder than the men, and so far as I can hear they have nothing of their own, for I think I perceived that what one had others shared, especially food. In the islands so far, I have found no monsters, as some expected, but, on the contrary, they are people of very handsome appearance. They are not black as in Guinea, though their hair is straight and coarse, as it does not grow where the sun’s rays are too ardent. And in truth the sun has extreme power here, since it is within twenty-six degrees of the equinoctial line. In these islands there are mountains where the cold this winter was very severe, but the people endure it from habit, and with the aid of the meat they eat with very hot spices.

As for monsters, I have found not trace of them except at the point in the second isle as one enters the Indies, which is inhabited by a people considered in all the isles as most ferocious, who eat human flesh. They possess many canoes, with which they overrun all the isles of India, stealing and seizing all they can. They are not worse looking than the others, except that they wear their hair long like women, and use bows and arrows of the same cane, with a sharp stick at the end for want of iron, of which they have none. They are ferocious compared to these other races, who are extremely cowardly; but I only hear this from the others. They are said to make treaties of marriage with the women in the first isle to be met with coming from Spain to the Indies, where there are no men. These women have no feminine occupation, but use bows and arrows of cane like those before mentioned, and cover and arm themselves with plates of copper, of which they have a great quantity. Another island, I am told, is larger than Hispaniola, where the natives have no hair, and where there is countless gold; and from them all I bring Indians to testify to this. To speak, in conclusion, only of what has been done during this hurried voyage, their Highnesses will see that I can give them as much gold as they desire, if they will give me a little assistance, spices, cotton, as much as their Highnesses may command to be shipped, and mastic as much as their Highnesses choose to send for, which until now has only been found in Greece, in the isle of Chios, and the Signoria can get its own price for it; as much lign-aloe as they command to be shipped, and as many slaves as they choose to send for, all heathens. I think I have found rhubarb and cinnamon. Many other things of value will be discovered by the men I left behind me, as I stayed nowhere when the wind allowed me to pursue my voyage, except in the City of Navidad, which I left fortified and safe. Indeed, I might have accomplished much more, had the crews served me as they ought to have done. The eternal and almighty God, our Lord, it is Who gives to all who walk in His way, victory over things apparently impossible, and in this case signally so, because although these lands had been imagined and talked of before they were seen, most men listened incredulously to what was thought to be but an idle tale. But our Redeemer has given victory to our most illustrious King and Queen, and to their kingdoms rendered famous by this glorious event, at which all Christendom should rejoice, celebrating it with great festivities and solemn Thanksgivings to the Holy Trinity, with fervent prayers for the high distinction that will accrue to them from turning so many peoples to our holy faith; and also from the temporal benefits that not only Spain but all Christian nations will obtain. Thus I record what has happened in a brief note written on board the
Caravel
, off the Canary Isles, on the 15th of February, 1493.

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South Pacific Sandy Island ‘proven not to exist’…..



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A South Pacific island, shown on marine charts and world maps as well as on Google Earth and Google Maps, does not exist, Australian scientists say.

The supposedly sizeable strip of land, named Sandy Island on Google maps, was positioned midway between Australia and French-governed New Caledonia.

But when scientists from the University of Sydney went to the area, they found only the blue ocean of the Coral Sea.

The phantom island has featured in publications for at least a decade.

Scientist Maria Seton, who was on the ship, said that the team was expecting land, not 1,400m (4,620ft) of deep ocean.

“We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400m in that area – very deep,” Dr Seton, from the University of Sydney, told the AFP news agency after the 25-day voyage.

“It’s on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We’re really puzzled. It’s quite bizarre.

“How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don’t know, but we plan to follow up and find out.”

Australian newspapers have reported that the invisible island would sit within French territorial waters if it existed – but does not feature on French government maps.
Australia’s Hydrographic Service, which produces the country’s nautical charts, says its appearance on some scientific maps and Google Earth could just be the result of human error, repeated down the years.

A spokesman from the service told Australian newspapers that while some map makers intentionally include phantom streets to prevent copyright infringements, that was was not usually the case with nautical charts because it would reduce confidence in them.

A spokesman for Google said they consult a variety of authoritative sources when making their maps.

“The world is a constantly changing place, the Google spokesman told AFP, “and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour’.’

The BBC’s Duncan Kennedy in Sydney says that while most explorers dream of discovering uncharted territory, the Australian team appears to have done the opposite – and cartographers everywhere are now rushing to undiscover Sandy Island for ever.

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