Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Christopher Columbus' fourth ship

The following are the only remaining pages from the personal journal of Juan Guillermo Hector Maria Conchita Jose Rojas DeGallardo, long forgotten Spanish liberal and Master of the Spanish bark Santa Ihop, the tragic fourth ship in Christopher Columbus' first expedition to the New World. These moldy old pages were found in a drifting wine bottle off the coast of NewFoundland by a Scandinavian trawler in 1903 and were forgotten....until now.

This second day of August, in the year of our deity of choice, as long as the mention of a generic deity offends nobody except christians, Four-teen Hundred and Ninety-Two.

Port of Palos, Spain.

The crew has been fitting the Santa Ihop for weeks, in preparation of the voyage. The ship's stores were loaded last as I found a distressing preponderance of salt pork in the casks and had to return it all to the merchants in exchange for fresh vegetables. It is well that I have done this as certain members of the crew are gluttonous and cannot be trusted to stay in conditioning.
From this day onward, squash and lettuce will be our fare! No man or woman can say that any swine had to die because of the unhealthy eating habits of the crew of the Santa Ihop.
I can't wait to see the joy on the men's faces when they hear the good news.

I have just had a conference with Admiral Columbus and the other ship's captains. Just another bunch of rich brats, probably never had an original thought in their heads.

This evening I found it judicious to replace my experienced First Officer, Boatswain, Coxswain and various able-bodied seamen with Moors. None of these Moors are experienced mariners; I doubt if more than one in the lot of them has ever put to sea before, but I demand diversity on my vessel and, anyway, I pity them as Spain has, just months ago, vanquished the poor fellows in a very unjust war. NO BLOOD FOR SPICES!!! (Hmm...Moors. Good thing I got rid of the salt pork!)

The Third Day of August, In the Year of....um....Grace (Yes, that sounds less offensive), Four-Teen Hundred and Ninety-Two.

We have set sail with the morning tide and have been under-weigh for twelve hours now.

The crew seemed rather upset during their supper. I would have thought the sight of all that fresh squash and lettuce would put anybody in a grand mood. Do the ingrates not know that other sailors do not eat this healthy? Oh well, the uneducated rabble are lucky somebody who knows better is looking out for their best interests.

I caught my First Mate berating a foc'sil hand for being drunk on his watch. He might have used him rather harshly had I not intervened. None of that heavy-handed discipline while i'm in command. Men are inherently good, and will always do the right thing when you trust them, I will give the men a lot of latitude, it's the enlightened thing to do.

The Fourth Day of August, In the Year of.......Oh, Never mind!.....1492.

NONE OF THE MEN WILL WORK!!!!

They are all drunk. Nobody is manning the helm, we are against the wind. What is more, the vegetables are starting to turn. What will we eat?

The Pinta has transferred one of her sailors to us this morning. A man named Miguel DeMoore. He is HUGE! Captain Pinzon of the Pinta said he couldn't stand him any longer. I personally cannot see why. Sure, he doesn't work at all, but he is very wise. He shows the crew wood engravings of the Pope eating little brown babies, and decries the white man's imperialist aggression.

Maybe I will Turn this ship around and head back for Spain, I can make up stories of atrocities perpetrated by me and my crew in the new world, then run for high office.

Miguel DeMoore is eating all of our rotten squashes and lettuces. Now the ship does not reek. well.....it doesn't reek of bad vegetables anymore.

This evening one of the sailors pinched my rear end and winked at me as I was passing. I try and stay open-minded, but that was just creepy.

August 5th, 1492.

We are still foundering aimlessly in the middle of this damned ocean. Almost all hands are drunk. Nobody listens to me.

That Miguel DeMoore fellow is less popular than I thought he would be. This might explain the general despondancy and demoralization of the foc'sil hands.

Since the food went bad, there have been no rations and the men look gaunt. Actually I thought that there were more men on board than this. I could swear some are missing. Anyway, DeMoore is the only one that doesn't look underfed....and he has the peculiar habit of picking his teeth with the jagged end of a human femur.

The Moors that I hired on are roaming about the ship in pairs with shifty looks on their faces. I know that some Moors have been known to smuggle bombs onboard ships and detonate them, but it's not right to racially profile unless they are older white ladies. Besides, they wouldn't hurt me....I am sympathetic to their cause......

Thus are recorded the very last known words of Captain DeGallardo, Master of the only one of Columbus' ships to not make it to the New World.