The Crews of Columbus's Fleet and Apollo 17

Myth: Columbus's crew was comprised mainly of prisoners and reprobates.
Fact: The crews of the fleet were for the most part experienced seamen.

ADMIRAL OF THE OCEAN SEA and CAPTAIN of the SANTA MARIA
Christopher Columbus
(standing center)

PERSONAL DATA:
Born in or near Genoa, Republic of Genoa, Italy between August 25, 1451 and the end of October, 1451.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:

Above are some paintings of Christopher Columbus, none of which were painted by those who actually had seen the Admiral. From written descriptions, we know his features included : white hair by the time he turned 30 (though blond as a youth ) ; long face; height: "tall stature"; blue eyes ; aquiline nose ; light complexion ; weight: unknown.
Click here for a morp movie of the various concepts of Columbus's appearance. [1.5 megabyte .avi format]

Below is a morphed photo of the six artist's depictions of Christopher Columbus's shown above. Each painting is given equal weight in the morph program which created the composite portrait below.

EDUCATION:
Trained in the Portuguese maritime service for many years, Columbus is thought to have been illiterate, i.e. having no formal education. Columbus acquired knowledge of the Spanish language (reading and writing) from associates in Spain. As a result of his association with Portuguese mariners, Columbus was taught how to handle a caravel in various types of winds and seas, and the types of stores (supplies) to take on extended voyages. His education included how such supplies might best be stowed. Additionally, his education must have included relating to native peoples using exchange of gifts.

EXPERIENCE:
Likely, the young Columbus being from a sailing community, took fishing trips, enjoyed coastal sailing on small lateen-rigged vessels employed for commerce. In May 1476, Columbus served as a foremast hand on a Genoese ship named Bechalla. Columbus's vessel was part of a large convoy protecting a commercial fleet sailing to Lisbon, England, and Flanders. On the thirteenth of August, off the shore of Portugal near the city of Lagos, pirates attached the Genoese fleet. The battle raged the day long with seven Genoese ships including Columbus's Bechalla sinking. Leaping into the water, Columbus wounded grasps an oar and managed to float to the shore of Portugal, a distance of six miles from the site of the battle.

Some believe that Columbus sailed north of Iceland in February of 1477. It is known that Christopher Columbus captained a Portuguese ship in the summer of 1478. By the age of twenty-eight, Columbus was a master mariner. Columbus certainly sailed to West Africa in the early 1480s, perhaps Guinea on the Gold Coast.

NEW WORLD SAILING EXPERIENCE:
First Voyage (Discovery of New World): 1492 - 1493 (San Salvador, Hispaniola, and Cuba)
Second Voyage : 1493 - 1496 ( repeated much of first voyage )
Third Voyage : 1498 - 1498 (Trinidad, South America)
Fourth Voyage : 1502 - 1504 (Central America)

PINTA CAPTAIN
Martin Alonso Pinzon
(left background)

PERSONAL DATA:
Born in 1441 at Palos de Moguer, Spain.
Died in 1493 at Palos de Moguer at the convent of La Rabida, Spain

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
No information.

EDUCATION:
From a family of seamen, Martin Pinzon was trained as an accomplished sailor and ship's pilot.

EXPERIENCE:
Pinzon is said to have served on a ship navigated by Cousin, from Dieppe, to the eastern shores of Africa. Some historians have Pinzon and his brothers in a Palos shipbuilding concern after retiring from sailing. Accounts have the ships of Columbus's fleet built by the Pinzons' business.

NEW WORLD SAILING EXPERIENCE:
Captained the Pinta, one of Columbus's ships, on the first voyage of discovery. On this voyage, Martin Alonso Pinzon discovered the island of Hispaniola (Haiti). However, during the voyage, he deserted Columbus off the coast of Cuba. (It was Martin Alonso who had recruited the crews of Columbus's fleet, perhaps, giving him added rapport with the men.) Miraculously, Columbus re-encountered Alonso Pinzon's Pinta. This occured after Columbus had boarded the Nina(captained by Pinzon's brother Vicente) near Haiti after the Santa Maria sank. Martin Pinzon's Pinta and his brother's Nina with Columbus on board returned from the New World. However, again Martin Pinzon separated from Columbus off the coast of the Azore Islands. Perhaps, his purpose was to be first to report the New World discovery to Spain's King and Queen. A few months after his return to Spain, he died.

NINA CAPTAIN
Vicente Yanez Pinzon

PERSONAL DATA:
Born between 1442 and 1446, in Spain.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
No information.

EDUCATION:
From a family of seamen, Martin Pinzon was trained as an accomplished sailor and ship's pilot.

EXPERIENCE:
Like his brother Martin, Vicente accumulated much experience as a seaman and pilot. Being from the seaport of Palos, as a member of a family of seamen, it was natural for this maritime experience to be part of his life.

NEW WORLD SAILING EXPERIENCE:
Vicente Pinzon captained the Nina, one of Columbus's vessels on the voyage of discovery of the New World. His vessel returned Columbus to Spain after the Santa Maria sank.

THE CREW

PERSONAL DATA:

The total of officers and men was 87 with 39 aboard the Santa Maria, 26 on the Pinta, and 22 on the Nina. Though most of the men were Basques and Andalusians, some were from other locations in Spain and foreign companies (Portugal, Genoa, and Venice). Assembling the crew was not easy. The effort fell primarily on Martin Alonso Pinzon. Some historians view Pinzon as something of a pirate whose persuasion included remarks like, "Why continue living so poorly (in poverty), when we may find houses with gold roofs?"

Columbus's crew had four-hour work shifts. These were timed by eight turns of the half-hour ampolletas (sandglasses). Among their duties were pumping bilge, deck cleaning, setting the sails and adjusting ropes and watching after the cargo. Having no bunks, off duty, they slept anywhere they could find space, usually on the deck. The intensity of Columbus's resolve caused him to spend days without sleep though he had private quarters with a bed. Because of the hardness of typical sailor's lives, disease, hunger, or thirst might bring on an early death. Worship of God was a very important part of their lives. Each day began with prayers and hymns and concluded with evening worship services. A single hot meal was served each day. The meal was cooked over an open fire in a sandbox on deck. This meal typically consisted of a ship's biscuit, pickled or salted meat, dried peas, cheese, wine, and fresh-caught fish.

The Crew of Apollo 17

The Crew of Apollo 17
Left to right: Schmidt, Cernan, Evans

Myth: The Apollo astronauts never went to the Moon. The journey was a cleverly executed simulation conducted in an isolated part of the Southwest.
Fact: The Moon rocks returned from their missions are enough evidence by themselves that they had reached a New World. There are no rocks on Earth like them in composition.

COMMANDER
Eugene Cernan
(foreground)

PERSONAL DATA:
Born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 14, 1934.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
Gray hair; blue eyes; height: 6 feet; weight: 190 pounds.

EDUCATION:
Graduated from Proviso Township High School in Maywood, Illinois; received a bachelor of science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1956 and a master of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U. S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California; recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree from Western State University College of Law in 1969, an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from Purdue University in 1970, and Drexel University in 1977. Petroleum Economics and Management Seminar, Northwestern University, 1978.

EXPERIENCE:
Cernan, a retired United States Navy Captain, received his commission through the Navy ROTC Program at Purdue. He entered flight training upon graduation and was assigned to Attack Squadrons 26 and 113 at the Miramar, California, Naval Air Station, and subsequently attended the Naval Postgraduate School. He has logged more than 5,000 hours flying time with more than 4,800 hours in jet aircraft and over 200 jet aircraft landings.

SPACE EXPERIENCE:
Flew on Gemini 9, Apollo 10, and Apollo 17. Cumulative hours of space lfight are more than 566. Cumulative EVA time is more than 73 hours.

LUNAR MODULE PILOT
Dr. Harrison H. Schmidt (Ph.D.)
(left background)

PERSONAL DATA:
Born July 3, 1935, in Santa Rita, New Mexico.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
Black hair; brown eyes; height: 5 feet 9 inches; weight: 165 pounds.

EDUCATION:
Graduated from Western High School, Silver City, New Mexico; received a bachelor of science degree in science from the California Institute of Technology in 1957; studied at the University of Oslo in Norway during 1957 and 1958; and received a doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964.

EXPERIENCE:
Schmitt was a teaching fellow at Harvard in 1961 where he assisted in teaching a course in ore deposits. Prior to his teaching assignment, he did geological work for the Norwegian Geological Survey on the west coast of Norway, and for the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico and Montana. He also worked for two summers as a geologist in southeastern Alaska. Before joining NASA, he was with the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Center at Flagstaff, Arizona. He was project chief for lunar field geological methods and participated in photo and telescopic mapping of the moon, and was among USGS astrogeologists instructing NASA astronauts during their geological field trips.

He has logged more than 2,100 hours flying time, including 1,600 hours in jet aircraft.

SPACE EXPERIENCE:
Flew on Apollo 17. Cumulative hours of space flight are more than 301. Cumulative EVA time is more than 22 hours.

COMMAND MODULE PILOT
Ronald E. Evans
(right background)

PERSONAL DATA:
Born November 10, 1933, in St. Francis, Kansas.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
Brown hair; brown eyes; height: 5 feet 11 inches; Weight: 170 pounds.

EDUCATION:
Graduated from Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kansas; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1956 and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1964 .

EXPERIENCE:
When notified of his selection to the astronaut program, Evans was on sea duty in the Pacific, assigned to VF-51 and flying F8 aircraft from the carrier USS TICONDEROGA during a period of seven months in Vietnam combat operations. He was a combat flight instructor (F8 aircraft) with VF124 from January 1961 to June 1962 and, prior to this assignment, participated in two WESTPAC aircraft carrier cruises while a pilot with VF-142. In June 1957, he completed flight training after receiving his commission as an Ensign through the Navy ROTC Program at the University of Kansas. Total flight time accrued during his career is 5,500 hours, 5,000 hours of which is in jet aircraft.

SPACE EXPERIENCE:
Flew on Apollo 17. Cumulative hours of space flight are more than 301. Cumulative EVA time is more than 1 hour.
Died April 6, 1990, in Scottsdale, Arizona, of a heart attack.

Questions
1. How old does Columbus appear in the composite morph painting shown above? What period of his life would this have been?

2. Compare the ages of the Apollo 17 crew with the age of Columbus when he set forth to find a route to Asia by sailing westward.

3. What characteristics do the paintings of Columbus have in common? Why do the paintings have these traits in common if none of the artists had seen Columbus or a photo or posed portrait of him?


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