Caicos Islands landfall theory


Map of the Caicos route (Verhoog 1947)

The Caicos theory was proposed in 1947 by Pieter Verhoog, a Dutch sea captain, and later gained support from Edwin Link, inventor of the Link trainer. Verhoog's theory has Caicos as Island I, Mayaguana as Island II, Acklins as Island III, and Inagua as Island IV.

Commodore Verhoog's personal papers are archived at Georgetown University.

Unresolved problems with the Caicos theory:

  1. There are no references on old maps to Caicos as Guanahani.
  2. Caicos comprises five islands. Columbus does not specifically say that there are five islands in the log.
  3. Unchallenged historical research indicates that the population of Guanahani as seen by Columbus was in the 500-1100 range. But extensive archaeological sites on Caicos suggests a pre-contact population several times this large.
  4. The distance from Island I to Island II is reported as five or seven leagues. The distance from Caicos to Mayaguana is 40 nautical miles, or at least 13 leagues.
  5. Island II has a coast running N-S for five leagues. No such coast at Mayaguana.
  6. The distance from Island II to Island III is 8 or 9 leagues. The distance from Mayaguana to Acklins is nearly twice this.
  7. Columbus reports seeing Island III from Island II. Acklins cannot be seen from Mayaguana.
  8. Island III had a coastline more than 20 leagues long. Acklins is shorter than this.
  9. The coast of Island III runs NNW-SSE. No such coast on Acklins.
  10. The harbor at Acklins is not two leagues from the end of the island.
  11. The harbor at Acklins does not have two very narrow entrances.
  12. Columbus sails NW after leaving the harbor at Island III. This course makes no sense at Acklins, since the harbor is at the NE corner of the island.
  13. From the east-west coast of Island III, Columbus steered ESE on the night of October 17. At Acklins, this course puts him aground on the Plana Cays.
  14. Columbus continued his attempted circumnavigation of Island III on October 18. Theory has Columbus sailing away from Island III to an unlogged anchorage at Hogsty Reef.
  15. Columbus sighted Island IV to the east after sailing SE from island III. Inagua comes into view in the south.
  16. From within the bight at Island IV, there was a way southwest that was "very roundabout." There is no such roundabout route in this theory.
  17. Columbus's initial course from Island IV was WSW. The theory requires that Columbus sailed west and WNW to make the Ragged Islands landfall.
  18. After leaving Island IV, the theory requires a course change from WSW to NW not recorded in the log.
  19. After passing 7 leagues SE of Cabo Verde on Island III, the Ragged Islands were then 16 leagues farther west. On Verhoog's route, the Ragged Islands are about 30 leagues from this point, on a course West by North.


The quote:

"I have never found a single serious objection against Caicos as the landfall of Columbus in 1492."
-- Commodore Pieter Verhoog


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