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Watling Island discussion[edit]

I think San Salvador/Watling better be called Watling. Calling it San Salvador might lead to confusion with Columbus' San Salvador. Mixcoatl 14:06, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think Wikipedia style is to use official names. And anyway, this is explained in the text so the probability of confusion is lessened. And remember that this is an ongoing debate so we should not give preference to one opinion (even the majority's) by selectively using an old name. Gadykozma 14:30, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Not sure why there are "most likely," "lesser," and "unlikely" candidates. This seems to follow Pickering's opinions to[o] closely, and he's an advocate for one. It's not an encyclopedia's job to judge which candidates are "most likely" is it? If so how do you determine that officially? Can't exactly go by scholarly consensus on this one. MateoP 23:50, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

It's not Watling Island - San Salvador is the official name the Bahamian government gives it. In addition, many of these so-called "clues" fit the island of San Salvador better than any of the other candidates. Columbus says the island has "muchas aguas y una laguna en medio muy grande". Looking at a map of San Salvador, one can see that (1) about 30-35% of the island's area is covered with water, including lakes, lagoons, blue holes, etc. and (2) there is a complex system of lakes and lagoons that appears to be "one very large lagoon in the middle [of the island]". Also, it is possible to make a NNE transit of San Salvador (the main road on the eastern half of the island does this today), and looking North from the island one can see a reef that surrounds most (but not all) of that part of the island. Between the reef and the island is the rather expansive Graham's Harbour, with some "islands" of Holocene carbonate sediment that are built on top of the shallow carbonate shelf.
There is one other story that I heard while I was on the island. Columbus, in his diary, spoke of seeing "seven islands" to the southwest from his island. Most researchers to San Salvador never see these seven islands and thus discredit the island as a possible landing site. I was there on an especially clear day, and the lead researcher pointed out the seven islands while we were on a topographic high. To the uninformed observer (Columbus) these appear to be seven, distinct islands, but they are in fact five hills on nearby Rum Cay and two hills on Conception Island. They are just on the horizon and only visible on clearer days.
Columbus most certainly would have landed on the West side of the island, which makes sense if he approached it from the South. At one place along the West Side of the island is the generally accepted landing site (marked by a monument from the government of Spain). Excavations at this site revealed early Spanish coins along with a number of other artifacts that are from the same time period as Columbus.
It's obvious that I'm letting my opinion shine through, but having been to the island, I read this article and recalled my time there. I'll be there again in about two and a half months and I'll find out as much as I can while I'm there. A map of the island can be found at, so please look it up if you're interested. I also have tons of great pictures but until I figure out how to put such a great photo album on Wikipedia it'll be everyone's loss. 02:04, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the full official name is "San Salvador or Watlings Island" so Watlings is legally acceptable, and in this particular case preferable to avoid confusion (IMO) -- although perhaps that should be stated in the article.
You may be able to transit Watlings to the NNE by road, but Columbus was using a boat. And you cannot go "NNE the length of the island" by boat at Watlings. (Nor a lot of other candidates either, for that matter.) Equally importantly, Columbus did this in order to see "the other part, which was the eastern part" of Guanahani. At Watlings, the boat trip gets you to the northern part of the island, not the eastern part.
Columbus does not specifically mention seeing seven islands upon leaving Guanahani; rather, he speaks of "seeing so many islands I did not know how to decide which one to go to first." From Watlings, there is no decision to be made: even if the hilltops of Rum Cay appeared to be separate islands (which is doubtful in the first place) they all lie in the same direction.
The artifacts found on the west side of Watlings are interesting for a number of reasons: first, they were found in a non-Taino context, i.e., not associated with Taino artifacts. That suggests that the island had already been depopulated of the Taino at the time those artifacts were left there. (The Bahamas were completely depopulated of the Taino during the period 1506-1512). And second, if that really was where Columbus's anchorage was, he would not have had time to go by boat from there to Graham's Harbor (on the north end of the island) and back in the less than 12 hours required by the log. Keithpickering (talk) 15:11, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

"muchas aguas y una laguna en medio muy grande"[edit]

Shouldn't an English translation be included with this quote? Sk8a H8a 09:30, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Indeed. Although the modern English word "lagoon" is derived from the Spanish laguna, that happened long after Columbus's day. The Diccionario de la Lengua Española defines laguna as "a natural body of water, generally fresh, and commonly of smaller dimensions than a lake." In other words, a pond. Therefore the best translation would be: "many waters and a very large pond in the middle." Columbus knew and used the word lago (lake) and chose not to use it here.
There are not many candidate islands that can be much favored or disfavored by this reading.

--Keithpickering (talk) 14:51, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Candidates section[edit]

The old one, dividing them up into "Most likely," "Less Likely," etc. was too POV and worse, I don't think was very reflective of consensus opinion. I broke the islands up instead into "Prominent" and "Other suggested", which I think is a more reasonable listing. I also moved Watling up to the top, since it is historically the most prominent suggested Guanahani, and in fact is the only one enough people have ever felt confident in to have it named after Columbus's island. 15:02, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

"If erratic steering and the fact that no one knows whether the compass card was fixed to the needle accurately is taken into account all attempts at reconstructing the track from the "Diario" turn out to be meaningless." I think it was Newfoundland. TrekphilerCanada 02:52, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

I've just corrected references to "Egg Island" to "Royal Island". I live 20 miles from both these islands, and they've been confused in academic and navigational texts for centuries, although it's not clear when or why this mistake originated. As can be easily confirmed using Google Earth, Royal Island is an east-west island which is five miles long, has a large, natural harbor, and is surrounded by reefs (as per Columbus' description of Guanahani). In contrast, Egg Island is a small, round island adjacent to Royal Island which has no harbor of any kind, is not surrounded by reefs on any side, and which is separated from Royal Island by a narrow channel. Mollander's original site, cited in the External Links section, appears to be gone, but this corrected attribution of Mollander pointing to Royal Island is confirmed by Robert Carr's discussion of Royal Island on page 7 of the July 1991 publication "An Archaeological Survey of Spanish Wells and Northern Eleuthera, Bahamas (Bahamas A.H.C. Technical Report #1"). Thewumpus (talk) 15:41, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

It would be nice to add a tick-box table which shows which of the candidates fit the proposed clues and which don't, or where it is unclear whether they could fit. That way, the reader could gauge at a glance how well each candidate conforms to the picture, without the article needing to single out any particular candidate explicitly. Instead, this would emerge from the table naturally. Or would that already be too much synthesis? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:07, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
I've noticed that Keith Pickering's website includes exactly what I was thinking of. Very neat. It also confirms my initial impression from reading the "Clues" section: Plana Cays is the best fit, Samana Cay a strong contender, but Watlings just doesn't work. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:18, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
I've undone your change, Thewumpus. I just saw that you just mechanically replaced "Egg" with "Royal" throughout the article, whether it makes sense or not. What you'd done is essentially OR, namely adding your own candidate, and misleading the readers. The researchers clearly meant Egg Island. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:33, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
I've noticed two problems in the article. First, I've tagged the claim that Cat has a reef that doesn't completely surround the island, because the claim clearly conflicts with the claim preceding it in the same sentence that Cat is an exception to the rule that all candidates have a reef.
Second, in this edit, an IP user has added the unreferenced claim that the Juan de la Cosa map and recent facsimiles do not really show a string of islands. I've tagged that one as well. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:42, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for catching this. Cat definitely has a reef, but only on the east side (and a bit on the south. And I've removed the uncited reference, see below for further comment. Yes, that was me making the edit, sorry but my login inadvertantly lapsed. Keithpickering (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 07:05, 21 November 2011 (UTC).

Thank you for taking care of the problems! --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:19, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Transatlantic Track section[edit]

Current version is poorly written, confusing, and inaccurate, so I'm going to re-write it.--Keithpickering (talk) 15:35, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Island or Islands[edit]

I removed the uncited claim that the actual Juan de la Cosa map does not show multiple islands, contra unnamed reproductions. The map on display at the Museo Naval in Madrid is rumored to be a reproduction, as the original is too valuable and fragile for public display. However, I believe the color photographs in Nebenzahl (Atlas of Columbus and the Great Discoveries) is of the genuine article. The details seem too perfect (and perfectly aged) otherwise. As a noted scholar working with a noted publisher, Nebenzahl if anyone would have been allowed access to the original. The Nebenzahl photograph definitely shows Guanahani as multiple. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 07:01, 21 November 2011 (UTC).


This seems like a minor point, but I am surprised that the article does not even mention the accent usually seen over the final i of Guanahaní in Spanish. Do the original sources not have it? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:16, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Hm, it seems that wherever I saw the spelling Guanahaní whoever spelled it like that simply had it wrong. At least es:Guanahani insists that there is no accent and that the word is oxytonic. If I correctly understand the phonology and orthography of 15th century Spanish, <guanahani> or <Guanahani> is the attempt to render something like wana'áni [wanaˈʔani] in Taíno or whatever language the natives spoke. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:48, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Per Early Modern Spanish#Phonology, it's entirely possible that at the end of the 15th century, which is the beginning of the Early Modern Spanish period, the letter ⟨h⟩ was still pronounced as [h] (as it was definitely pronounced as [f], [ɸ] or [h] in Old Spanish, i. e., until the early 15th century, where usually ⟨f⟩ was used for the phoneme), and that Guanahani was hence used to render [wanaˈhani]. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 23:30, 7 November 2014 (UTC)