WE sailed for two days east by south. But the weather that had been perfection for long and long again from Palos, now was changed. Dead winds delayed us, the sea ridged, clouds blotted out the blue. We held on. There was a great cape which we called Cape Cuba. Off this a storm met us. We lived it out and made into one of those bottle harbors of which, first and last, we were to find God knows how many in Cuba!
The Admiral named it Puerto del Principe, and we raised on shore here a very great cross. We had done this on every considerable island since San Salvador and now twice on this coast. There were behind us seven or eight crosses. The banner planted was the sign of the Sovereignty of Spain, the cross the sign of Holy Church, Sovereign over sovereigns, who gave these lands to Spain, as she gave Africa and the islands to Portugal. We came to a great number of islets, rivers of clear blue sea between. The ships lay to and we took boat and went among these. The King’s Gardens, the Admiral called them, and the calm sea between them and mainland the Sea of Our Lady. They were thickly wooded, and we thought we found cinnamon, aloes and mastic. Two lovely days we had in this wilderness of isles and channels where was no man nor woman at all, then again we went east and south, the land trending that way. Very distant, out of eastern waste, rose what seemed a large island. The Admiral said that we should go discover, and we changed course toward it, but in three hours’ time met furious weather. The sea rose, clouds like night closed us in. Night came on without a star and a contrary wind blew always. When the dawn broke sullenly we were beaten back to Cuba, and a great promontory against which truly we might have been dashed stood to our north and shut out coast of yesterday. Here we hung a day and night, and then the wind lulling and the sea running not so high, we made again for that island which might be Babeque. We had Indians aboard, but the sea and the whipping and groaning of our masts and rigging and sails and the pitching of the ship terrified them, and terror made them dull. They sat with knees drawn up and head buried in arms and shivered, and knew not Babeque from anything else.
Christopherus Columbus could be very obstinate. Wishing strongly to gain that island, through all this day he had us strive toward it. But the wind was directly ahead and strong as ten giants. The master and others made representations, and at last he nodded his gray head and ordered the Santa Maria put about and the Pinta and the Nina signaled. The Nina harkened and turned, but the Pinta. at some distance seemed deaf and blind. Night fell while still we signaled. We were now for Cuba, and the wind directly behind us, but yet as long as we could see, the Pinta chose not to turn. We set lights for signals, but her light fell farther and farther astern. She was a swifter sailer than we; there was no reason for that increasing distance. We lay to, the Nina beside us. Ere long we wholly lost the Pinta’s light. Night passed. When morning broke Captain Martin Alonso Pinzon and the Pinta were gone.