It pleased God, when Columbus was no longer able to withstand the discontents and mutinous spirit of his men, that in the afternoon of Thursday the 11th of October 1492, he was comforted by manifest tokens of approaching land. A green rush was seen to float past his own ship, and a green fish of that kind which is known to be usually near rocks. Those of the Pinta saw a cane and a staff, and took up another curiously carved, and a piece of board, and many weeds were seen, evidently fresh torn from the shore. The people on board the Ninna saw similar tokens, and a branch of thorn with its berries, that seemed to have been recently torn from the bush. All these were strong indications of being near land; besides which the lead now found a bottom and brought up sand; and the wind became unsteady, which was thought to proceed from the nearness of the land. From all these signs, Columbus concluded that he was now certainly near the land he was in search of; and when night came, after evening prayer he made a speech to his men, setting forth the infinite goodness of God, who had conducted them in safety through so long a voyage. He then gave orders, that they should lay to and watch all night; since they well knew that the first article of their sailing instructions was, that, after sailing seven hundred leagues without finding land, they should not make sail between midnight and day-break; and he was almost confident they would make the land that night. On purpose farther to rouse their vigilance, besides putting them in mind of the promised annuity of 10,000 maravedies from the king to him who might first see land, he engaged to give from himself a velvet doublet to the discoverer.
About ten o’clock at night of Thursday the 11th October 1492, as Columbus was sitting on the poop of his vessel, he espied a light; on which he privately called upon Peter Gutierrez, a groom of the kings privy chamber, and desired him to look at the light, which he said he saw. He then called Roderigo Sanchez de Segovia, inspector of the fleet, who could not discern the light; but it was afterwards seen twice, and looked like a candle which was lifted up and then held down; so that Columbus had no doubt of it being a real light on land, and it afterwards turned out to have been a light carried by some people who went from one house to another.
About two the next morning, the caravel Pinta, being always foremost, made a signal of seeing land, which was first descried by a sailor named Roderick de Triana, and was then about two leagues distant. But the annuity of 10,000 maravedies, promised in reward to him who should first discover land, was afterwards decreed by their majesties to belong to the admiral, and was always paid him from the rents of the shambles of Seville; because he saw the light in the midst of darkness; typical of the spiritual light they were bringing among those barbarous people: For God so ordered it, that, as soon as the wars with the Moors of Granada were ended, after 720 years from their first coming into Spain, this great work should begin; by which the crown of Castile and Leon might be continually employed in the good work of bringing infidels to the knowledge of the Catholic faith.