General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

If there were no new world would Columbus have made it the distance to Japan?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10271points) April 9th, 2017

San Salvador is the place he landed. If I remember correctly this is because if they didn’t find land soon they were screwed.

A) when they were off the coast did they still think, ” Hey there’s the islands of the south pacific.”

B) If there were no America’s would they have made it all the way to Japan or the other pacific Islands?

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14 Answers

Sneki95's avatar

Japan is a bit up north. If he held the straight line, he’d end up somewhere in Philippines or Micronesia.

I wonder how long would it take, with his equipment…

filmfann's avatar

Without more food and water, they wouldn’t have gotten much farther.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No way to guess. Because if there hadn’t been an America (north, south, or central). then the water currents and wind currents would have been different. And remember Columbus had sailing ships.

The prevailing wind direction from the S Pacific is from west to east (or northeast) so he would have been sailing against the wind.

So from a purely technical point of view, it’s impossible to guess what ocean and wind would be like without the american continent in the middle.

Patty_Melt's avatar


ragingloli's avatar

Maybe. And then the filthy Gaijin would have hopefully been beheaded.

LostInParadise's avatar

No. The estimate that Columbus used for the size of the Earth was way too small, even though there were other estimates that were rather close. There is no way that Columbus could have crossed the part of the ocean that the New World is in plus the Pacific. Link

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

He was a pretty determined character and not much got in his way. You can read the log of his first voyage to the New World HERE in downloadable, searchable pdf format.

Columbus was the son of moderately prosperous Genovaise wool merchant and was sent to school to become a naval officer. He did some time in the Genoese Navy, going to sea for the first time when he was 10 as a midshipman’s apprentice and mustering out at 21, then became the captain of a merchantman, a business agent, and made a name for himself as a great navigator and bold adventurer searching out valuable new merchant import/export markets along the west African coast previously not on the charts.

He became very wealthy and his second wife was a 25 year-old noblewoman from the Monastery of All Saints in Lisbon who had won medals from Portugal for academic achievements. She was one of Portugal’s twelve elite Comendadoras of the Military Order of Saint James. Her name was Filipa Moniz Perestrelo, daughter of Bartolomeu Perestrelo (bear with me) a Portuguese Knight of Santiago, governor of Porto Santo, member of the household of Prince John, Lord of Reguengos de Monsaraz (Master of Santiago,) and of Prince Henry the Navigator’s household.

Through his father-in-law, Columbus had free access to Prince Henry the Navigator’s library, which was arguably the largest collection of charts, shipping and navigational notes both historic and contemporaneous in the world at the time. Not even the Pope and his emissaries had access to this library as many of the documents were held as military secrets. Henry bought this information at great expense from spies and merchantmen as far abroad as Asia.

Columbus was a very ambitious and competent sailor fired up by the fact that he had married far above his station. Men like this often would rather die nobly trying to make a name for themselves, rather than live life as failures in the eyes of their wives, their families and thus themselves.

He was making an average of 4 knots per hour per day and had moved back into the wind a week before his arrival at San Salvador. His logs and other documents show that they were under stress, but not to the point of mutiny and days away from death from dehydration or malnutrition as many people believe. Check the charts. If he hadn’t hit tiny San Salvador, he would have hit either Cat Island, Long Island, or Exuma within a few hours. If he managed to somehow accidently thread that needle without sighting land, he would have run smack-dab into Cuba within a few days and history would not have been changed.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Oops. Sorry. I got into that and forgot the actual question.

If there had been nothing but sea between him and Japan, no. There are vast areas of the Pacific which have no fish near the surface. Dropping explosives overboard to bring up fish in deep water would work until the explosives ran out. At that point the men would mutiny (if they hadn’t already) and take command of the ships, probably turn direction, resort to drinking their own urine, each other’s blood, then canabalism, madness and death.

cazzie's avatar

And the Vikings laughed and laughed.

Didn’t he think he was making it to the Indies? Which is why it is still, stupidly referred to as ‘The West Indies’. He was looking for a trade route to Indonesia (‘the spice islands) and India and China, not Japan. The land route had become too dangerous because of the fall or some other such Empire or something. (Ottoman?) He thought he landed in Japan because he wasn’t very smart. The circumference of the earth had been accurately calculated since the 2nd century, but Colombus thought he knew better. He liked to believe in his ‘alternative facts’.
They prepared only for a voyage based on a much smaller circumference of the Earth. If there had been nothing but ocean and not an island, even, to restock with fresh water and food, they would have all died. Colombus got his sums wrong. Math mistakes cost lives.

ragingloli's avatar

Columbus was also a horrible butcher and mass murderer.

cazzie's avatar

@ragingloli an all around horrible human, I think we can agree.

rojo's avatar

B). By my calculations, if there were no American continents and if they had maintained their course from Spain to San Salvador Island he might, if very lucky, have hit Pitcairn Island and if he missed that then New Zealand was his best bet for landfall followed by Australia, possibly he would not have hit Asia.

cazzie's avatar

They wouldn’t have made it. They had not put aboard enough rations. And you are going awfully diagonal, to land so far in the south latitudes.

rojo's avatar

Part A) They probably did think “Hey Look! A Pacific Island!” but since the next closest island is over 30 miles away and I don’t believer any of them have much in the way of mountains that can be seen for any distance then I don’t know whether they would have thought in the plural.

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