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PlanetSolar heading out into uncharted technical waters. The theory was in place, but nobody knew if this solar powered boat could make it. But they did! The solar panel area on this ship was increased with solar panels on rollers, pulled out by the crew using winches. The Elizabeth Swann uses robotics and hydraulics to move solar wings that automatically track the sun, and fold away in storm conditions. This ship did not have sails or a wind turbine to take advantage of the trade winds.




Columbus went to sea at a young age and traveled widely, as far north as the British Isles and as far south as what is now Ghana. He married Portuguese noblewoman Filipa Moniz Perestrelo and was based in Lisbon for several years, but later took a Castilian mistress; he had one son with each woman.


Though largely self-educated, Columbus was widely read in geography, astronomy, and history. He formulated a plan to seek a western sea passage to the East Indies, hoping to profit from the lucrative spice trade. Following Columbus's persistent lobbying to multiple kingdoms, Catholic monarchs Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II agreed to sponsor a journey west. Columbus left Castile in August 1492 with three ships, and made landfall in the Americas on 12 October 1492.



Christopher Columbus (1451 and 1506) tried to investigate water movement in the sea. During his exploration missions, he used three vessels to sail across various areas, namely the Canary Islands to the Bahamas covering 5400 miles, a voyage of around 36 days.


On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus and his crew set sail from the port of Palos in southern Spain on three vessels: la Santa Clara (Niña), la Pinta and la Santa Gallega (Santa Maria). Two of the ships, the Niña and Pinta, were caravels, tiny by today’s standards — only 50 to 70 feet from bow to stern - prized for their speed and maneuverability. The Santa Maria, Columbus’s flagship, was a larger, heavier cargo ship.





The earlier Portuguese caravels, known as the caravela latina, were rigged with lateen (triangular) sails that hung at 45-degree angle to the deck. Lateen sails are almost like wings compared to square rigs. You could point the bow of a caravel with an angle of just 20 degrees off the wind and still get enough lift on the outer edge of the sail to propel forward.





The lateen-rigged caravels were critical in the Portuguese voyages to sub-Saharan African, where strong coastal winds blow north to south. The versatile caravel could speed south along the coast and easily return to shore against the wind.

For Columbus’s maiden journey, he used a Spanish update to the caravel known as the caravela redonda, a three-masted ship where the first two masts were rigged with conventional square sails for open-ocean speed, and a third was rigged with a lateen sail for coastal maneuverability. That rigging combination made ships like the Niña and the Pinta some of the best sailing vessels of their time.

In addition to their versatile rigging options, 15th-century caravels moved the rudder to the rear center of the ship for better balanced handling.


During this period, also known as the Age of Sail, other explorers like Vasco Da Gama were unknowingly assisted by these winds to discover new lands and even a route to India. He sailed between July 1497 and May 1498 and was instrumental in humans conquering the sea.





Portuguese and Spanish traders soon realised that the prevailing north easterlies of the mid latitudes could blow a ship across the Atlantic Ocean, and even better, the south easterlies on the other side could blow them back again. It was not luck, it was a natural phenomena that could be exploited.


Other explorers added weight to this research, among them a Norwegian called Thor Heyerdahl, in 1947 with his Kontiki and later Ra expeditions, discovering that trade winds are capable of blowing a balsa raft from South America to the Tuamoto Islands, and a reeds floater from Egypt to America.

With the advent of the ages of steam and later technologies, we have almost forgotten the role that the Trade Winds in developing our global economy.







Some sources attribute the 1492-ocean-blue couplet to a 1919 poem called “The History of the U.S.” by a 17-year-old intellectual prodigy named Winifred Sackville Stoner Jr.


Reportedly a fluent speaker of Esperanto at age 5 (as Winifred Sr., a noted educator, informed the New York Times ), at 13 she published a book called Facts in Jingles, consisting of useful information rendered in easily memorizable light verse (jingles). "The History of the U.S." is a series of such jingles, only the first of which is about Columbus:

"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

"In fourteen ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

Especially in the USA, Christopher Columbus came to symbolize the spirit of progress, and later got adopted as a symbol by various ethnic groups. Unsurprisingly, his image has changed with the times.




The Santa Maria and Pinta of Christopher Columbus


Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer and navigator who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, opening the way for European exploration and colonization of the Americas. His expeditions, sponsored by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, were the first European contact with the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.




In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue
And found this land, land of the Free, Beloved by you, beloved by me.

And in the year sixteen and seven, Good Captain Smith thought he’d reach Heav’n,
And then he founded Jamestown City, Alas, ’tis gone, oh, what a pity.

’Twas in September sixteen nine, WIth ship, Half Moon, a read Dutch sign,
That Henry Hudson found the stream, The Hudson River of our dream.

In sixteen twenty, pilgrims saw Our land that had no unjust law.
Their children live here to this day, Proud citizens of U.S.A.

In sixteen hundred eighty-three, Good William Penn stood ’neath a tree
And swore that unto his life’s end He would be the Indian’s friend.

In seventeen hundred seventy-five, Good Paul Revere was then alive;
He rode like wild throughout the night, And called the Minute Men to fight.

Year seventeen hundred seventy-six, July the fourth, this date please fix
Within your minds, my children dear, For that was Independence Year.

In that same year on a bitter night At Trenton was an awful fight,
But by our brave George Washington The battle was at last well won.

Two other dates in your mind fix—Franklin born in seventeen six,
And Washington first said “Boo-Hoo” In seventeen hundred thirty-two.

In seventeen hundred seventy-nine, Paul Jones, who was a captain fine,
Gained our first naval victory Fighting on the big, wide sea.

And in the year eighteen and four, Lewis and Clark both went before,
And blazed for us the Oregon Trail Where men go now in ease by rail.

In eighteen hundred and thirteen, On great Lake Erie could be seen
Our Perry fight the Union Jack And drive it from our shores far back.

In eighteen hundred and sixty-one, An awful war was then begun
Between the brothers of our land, Who now together firmly stand.

In eighteen hundred sixty-three, Each slave was told that he was free
By Lincoln, with whom few compare In being kind and just and fair.

In eighteen hundred eighty-one, At Panama there was begun
By good De Lesseps, wise and great, The big canal, now our ship’s gate.

At San Juan, eighteen ninety-eight, Our brave Rough Riders lay in wait,
And on the land brought victory, While Dewey won it on the sea.

In nineteen hundred and fifteen, Was shown a panoramic screen
At San Francisco’s wondrous fair; All peoples were invited there.

But cruel war in that same year Kept strangers from our land o’ cheer,
And nineteen seventeen brought here The war that filled our hearts with fear.

Thank God in nineteen eighteen Peace on earth again was seen,
And we are praying that she’ll stay Forever in our U.S.A.





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