We’re rewarding the question askers & reputations are being recalculated! Read more.
123

There's a lot in the question that seems to be assuming modern knowledge that Columbus most likely did not possess. There is no good evidence the Iberian maritime community in the late 15th century had any knowledge of Greenland. The European settlement there did not exist by the time the printing press was invented, so any knowledge of it (unlike Portugal'...


123

By and large new uninhabited landmasses were discovered in one of three ways: By hunter-gatherers, walking there when the sea level was much lower at the end of the last glaciation. By hunter-gatherers hopping there from nearby islands or landmasses using their small coastal craft. By farming people with ocean-going vessels (usually Austronesians). So let'...


31

While researching for this question, I found more details about what could be this (possible) adventure. Necho II hired a fleet of Phoenicians, who supposedly sailed from the Red Sea around Africa back to the mouth of the Nile in in three years. The voyage was related by Herodotus as a complete circumnavigation of Africa in his History: According to ...


29

In 1460, at the time of the death of Prince Henry, the Navigator, the Portuguese had mapped the western coast of Africa down to the 8 N parallel. The Southern Cross is well seen at this latitude. Really, all stars can be seen between the tropics, and the Northern Tropic was reached even earlier. In 1471, they crossed the Equator and began to be guided by ...


22

Let's suppose that Columbus knew about Greenland. European colonies in Greenland were abandoned by that time. Therefore sailing there was actually useless, because it would be impossible to get supplies (except for fresh water) or guides there. It was just an empty island. He thought that east Asia was closer, so the estimated distance between Asia and ...


20

Because New Zealand is an isolated archipelago a long way from anywhere; and everywhere: Here is the North Atlantic at the same scale: One might as well ask why it took so long for the Americas or Bermuda to be discovered.


16

The book The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S Bounty by Sir John Barrow includes a chapter on the remarkable voyage of Bligh and his 18 companions in their 23-foot boat, drawn from Bligh's description of the voyage. Unfortunately, Barrow concentrates on the hardships of the men and includes few details on how navigation was ...


14

You can't just go sailing to nowhere. You need to know where you're going, what you expect to find, and how long it'll take to get there. Imagine for example you're a native on Australia. You look across the sea and don't see anything. If you set off now, how much food should you bring? What if your food spoils? If you find something, you might meet hostile ...


13

This story depends entirely on Herodotus 4,42. The passage in question reads: I wonder, then, at those who have mapped out and divided the world into Libya, Asia, and Europe; for the difference between them is great, seeing that in length Europe stretches along both the others together, and it appears to me to be wider beyond all comparison.[2] For Libya ...


13

In response to question (1), very much so. You could row the boat, you could pole it, you could have it towed by people or beasts of burden, or if the wind was in your favor, you could sail up the river. Poling and towing, in particular, could be used on any navigable river regardless of how strong the current was.


12

Latitude can be calculated from observations of stellar objects (typically using something like an astrolabe) and a bit of math. The Greeks could do this as early as 150BC, but only on dry land. The mariner's astrolabe wasn't invented until around 1300 CE. Nobody had a good way to determinte longitude in real-time aboard a ship before the invention of the ...


12

The waters around Mount Athos were known to be dangerous.[Note] It was here that an earlier Persian fleet met its demise during the invasion of 492 BC. According to Herodotus in his Histories (VI. 45): Crossing over from Thasos [the Persians] travelled near the land as far as Acanthus, and putting out from there they tried to round Athos. But a great and ...


11

The strongest evidence that this voyage really happened is the sentence in Herodotes: For my part I do not believe them, but perhaps others may-that in sailing round Lybia they HAD THE SUN UPON THEIR RIGHT HAND. If the story is invented why anyone would invent such a weird detail? As we see, this was weird for an educated Greek in 5th century. Only ...


11

Well, the potential for using time to measure longitude was certainly understood by Hipparchus in the second century BC. He proposed that longitudes of distant places could be calculated by measuring the local solar time of lunar eclipses, which are visible over half the Earth's surface. However, the available means of timekeeping weren't sufficiently ...


9

As Mark has noted above, Bligh was denied charts when he was set adrift by Fletcher Christian and the other mutineers. He was, however allowed to take a copy of John Hamilton Moore’s Practical Navigator in addition to the sextant that Mark mentioned. Bligh knew his initial position and his (approximate) destination. With the sextant and Hamilton-Moore's ...


7

Yes. Punts, Barges and Hulks were poled or towed up river. Here's a book with multiple chapters focused on Southern Northern Europe: Medieval Boat and Ship Finds of Germany, the Low Countries, and Northeast France


6

Latitude To find the latitude of a point on the land, one would simply have to measure the elevation of Polaris above the horizon. Therefore the question of the precision of (land-based) latitude determinations in this period reduces to the question of how accurately people could measure angles in the sky. The Almagest was the state of the art during this ...


5

The question seems to be based on something of a false premise. Although the great circle routes from Europe to north American cities do often pass close to or over Greenland, Columbus was starting from close to the southern tip of Europe and he ended up in the Caribbean. His first voyage was from Palos de Frontera and he initially made land on Plana Cays, ...


5

The statue/monument to Drake is modern, and apparently was commissioned by the municipality of Coquimbo sometime in the last 30 years. The nearby City of La Serena was opposed to building a statue to honor a "pirate", but Coquimbo credits him with visiting the bay (there are hundreds of bays/beaches named Herradura in South America - it just means "...


5

Ben Crowell says 15 minutes of latitude in the Almagest of Ptolemy according to Goldstein. Along these lines I examined some ancient sources and have the following findings: In the Geography of Ptolemy, it reads "The fourth parallel is distant one hour [from the equator] and is 16°25'. This is parallel [latitude] through Meroe. Actually Meroe lies between ...


4

First, a spot of background science. The Longitude Problem is exactly identical to the problem of establishing simultaneity on widely separated locations on the Earth's surface, and both prerequisite the existence of a reliable estimate of the Earth's diameter. Certainly Eratosthenes calculated the Earth's diameter in the 3rd Century BC, and other ...


4

I will add following reasons to sds answer: Ability to move back If your sails only allow courses before the wind, relying on wind alone is a death trap. Noone wants to be pushed away from the safe coasts into unknown waters. So the first ships were galleys which were able to move in any direction, but had virtually no resistance against bad weather. So ...


4

On this page it describes the bay thusly: The city of Coquimbo is a source of legends of hidden treasures, due to that in the past centuries was assaulted by pirates and corsairs. In the year 1578 the English corsair Francis Drake discovered La Herradura (horse shoe) bay and called this way for its shape. Since that very same moment, the bay became a ...


4

General navigation practice of the time was to find your latitude, and then sail along that parallel until you reached your destination, as determining longitude was problematic at best. It also happened to give him the best use of the direction of the trade winds (blowing west from his departure point)


4

Essentially when they understood that the Earth is round, and the Sun rotates about it with a period one day. Ancient Greeks credited this discovery to Pythagoras. Modern scientists consider Pythagoras a somewhat legendary figure, so the name of the first person who said this is unknown. Anyway this was a common knowledge in the (educated) Hellenistic ...


3

It is an exaggeration that in 16th century the crossing took months. Columbus's first voyage took 6 weeks (I subtracted the stop on Canary islands). This was not the shortest route, and this was his first voyage ever! Return crossing took 1 month and 2 days. You can check Wikipedia for his other voyages, and for some subsequent 16th century voyages. But it ...


3

Careful examination of the Google Earth photos led me to the following conjecture. The difference between the Mount Athos peninsula, and the other two is that there are no beaches on the Mount Athos peninsula. The mountain rises steeply from the water. This means that one has no landing for about 70 miles if one tries to sail round it. The other two ...


3

Nick Szabo describes in this series of recent articles on the sandglass and mechanical clock, traverse-board, and dead-reckoning maps and errors the four significant advances in navigational technology that were unique to Europe during the Age of Discovery. Invented in Europe during the late 13th or early 14th century, the sand glass complemented a ...


3

I understand the scope of the question as Long-distance travel (e.g., crossing the ocean) ... on purpose (as opposed to a random loser accidentally being carried far away on a raft) ... roundtrip (i.e., coming home eventually) ... profitably Ship Size The main issue here is building a sufficiently big ship to carry enough food/water for the crew goods ...


2

The development that enabled the crossing of the oceans was the caravel with its so-called Lateen sail, running fore to aft, that enabled a ship to sail by catching practically any wind. Prior to that, ships were largely at the mercy of currents. For instance, it's quite easy to sail from the west coast of South America to Tahiti using prevailing currents, ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible