Santa Maria

Either classed as a "Nao", Carrack or Caravel, it was the flagship of Christopher Columbus during his expedition towards "the Indies". This reconstruction here is that of a Caravela.

At one time Cogs, Hulks, Caraques and Nefs could still be seen (the distinction was made mainly by rigging and tonnage), the Santa Maria proceeded at the same time from the Nao (Nef, Latin name of the Cog of the North) and the caraque. The latter, in fact, were distinguished at one and the same time from a larger forecastle, and often (but not always) had a sail on their foresail. Their tonnage was superior and they always wore reinforcing portals, whether bordered with clinkers (North) or Freeboard (Mediterranean, Latin countries). Their dimensions remained in a classic 3/1 ratio, but they were higher on the water with more bulging shapes, and a square stern table. They were also the first to have cannons in portholes. The first unit permanently equipped with canons was the Nao Galicia, in 1400. It is precisely in Galicia that the Santa Maria was built, and nicknamed "the Galician". It belonged to Juan de la Cosa was anchored at Palos de la Frontera for his first trip. It was 30 meters long and 10 meters wide, and was 230 tons long and possessed four small portholes. His crew was 40 men. After his shipwreck at Hispaniola his wreck was used as timber for the small fort of the Navidad.

The Santa Maria is inseparable from the Genoese navigator Christoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus). Classically the latter lives in an atmosphere of merchants travelers, spices and farms from the Far East. Naturally himself (helped by his family) becomes an experienced sailor thanks to his many trips. In one of them, in 1476, his convoy was attacked by the French and took refuge in Lagos in Portugal, where an important Genoese community is present. There he meets his wife, Filipa Perestrelo e Moniz, who will give him three sons. Columbus made several trips to the coasts of Africa with the Portuguese merchants, and was introduced to navigation and cartography. But he also became aware of the tedious duration of these journeys along the coasts of the great continent, and became convinced of the possibility of joining the Indies by cutting directly from the west. The cornerstone of his belief is that the measure of Potolémée is overestimated, and he himself evaluates the distance to Cypango (Japan) at not more than 2414 kilometers.

He established a file, avoided any questioning of the inquisitors and went to plead in 1485 his project with King Manuel II. The latter, influenced by hostile advisers, refused categorically. Disappointed and wounded, Columbus departs for the castile and is accepted at the court of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile. But a first verdict was unfavorable to him in 1490. He regained his chance in 1491 and this time his project was about to obtain the King's approval. But the demands of Columbus, when his titles and the power he demanded over the lands to be discovered provoked a new refusal. It was the Queen's counselor who finally convinced her to accept the benefits expected from such an expedition. In August 1492, Columbus was ready to leave with three ships, the Santa Maria, and two small Caravelles, the Nina and the Pinta, and 90 men. On 12 October, after a difficult and challenging journey for Columbus, and especially for his crew accustomed to sail by sight and imbued with the frightful stories of sailors on the high seas, threatened the expedition to fail, and Columbus, a poor diplomat, of little to a mutiny, well assisted by the captain of the Nina, Martin Pinzon.

On the 12th of October, therefore, Columbus landed on the island of Guanahani (San Salvador), and greedy for gold, was directed by the Indians farther north, towards Cuba. His expedition finally set foot on the island farther west, baptized at the time Hispaniolia (Haiti). However, sea conditions had rendered the caraquy unusable and had been used to build a permanent establishment. A handful of men were left behind, and Columbus set off again on the Nina, joining the Pinta, who had gone earlier in search of gold to the west. The return is also difficult, but triumphant. It brings back various artefacts, indigenous and animal, but not or little gold, if not promises. He secured the formation of a larger fleet, counting 15 ships and 1500 men to establish a lasting colony. It leaves Cadiz in 1493 and will approach Navidad to find that there is no longer a soul that lives at the fort, destroyed and whose survivors had died out due to illness and the hostility of the "Indians" . He founded his colony Isabella on another site, and stayed for some time to manage it. His idea was always to find gold in Asia, and he set out to explore the south of Cuba with three caravels.

He returned without new discoveries in 1496. On his third voyage, in 1498, he was able to arm only 8 ships, and had to defeat 5 on Hispaniolia suffering from shortage. Approaching Trinidad, he thought he had at length found the continent. But the situation remains worrying at isabella and colomb is soon accused of being at the bad manager. The King sent his councilor Bogadilla to shed light on these denunciations, and his report resulted in the comparison of the brothers Columbus to be tried in Spain; He is actually condemned, losing titles, including that of Governor of Isabella, but receives the endorsement for a new mission of exploration, which will be his fourth and last voyage, in 1502. It explores the coasts of Honduras, to the Isthmus of Panama that it takes for the passage of Malaysia; But his expedition turns to drama, and he loses his ships. He was saved by the new governor of Isabella, and returned to Seville, where he ended his life without glory, expiring in 1506.