The Grand Turk theory


This is a very old theory, going back to Navarrete in 1825, and regularly revived since then. Grand Turk is the easternmost island in the Lucayan archipelago (although it is not part of the Bahamas politically). In recent years, Grand Turk has been advocated by H. E. Sadler and Robert H. Power. Power proposes: Island I = Grand Turk; Island II = Caicos group; Island III = Mayaguana / Acklins; Island IV = Great Inagua. Sadler doesn't do any better with Island III = North Caicos.

The biggest problem here is with Island III, since Mayaguana and Acklins are separated by over 40 nautical miles of ocean. Power proposes that Columbus mistook this ocean for a coastline. OK, I know it sounds ridiculous, but at least Power recognized the deficiency. That doesn't make it any easier to swallow, however. Below, I evaluate Power's route from Grand Turk. Sadler's is just as bad, if not worse.

Unresolved problems with the Grand Turk theory:
  1. There are no references on old maps to Grand Turk as Guanahani.
  2. Columbus saw a light on the night of October 11. Theory has no place for such a light to be.
  3. There was a peninsula with a very narrow neck at Island I. The peninsula proposed at Grand Turk has a very wide neck.
  4. After a slow morning sail, the theory requires Columbus to sail 58 nautical miles in 6 hours on the afternoon of October 15, at an impossible speed of 10 knots. (These ships could make 8 knots at most.)
  5. Columbus reported seeing Island III from Island II.
  6. Columbus reported sailing on an E-W course from Island II to island III. Sailing direction from Caicos to Mayaguana is NW.
  7. Columbus reported distance from Island II to Island III as 8 or 9 leagues. Distance from Caicos to Mayaguana is about 14 leagues.
  8. Columbus reported coastline of Island III ran NNW. No such coastline at Mayaguana. Further, Columbus reported sailing NNW along this coast. At Mayaguana, this puts him aground.
  9. Island III had a coastline more than 20 leagues long. Mayaguana is much shorter than this.
  10. Columbus reported an isleo in harbor's mouth on Island III, forming two narrow entrances. No such isleo at Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana.
  11. After leaving the harbor at Island III, Columbus sailed NW. At Mayaguana, this course again puts him aground.
  12. Theory supposes Columbus mistook open sea for a coastline. (!)
  13. 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.
  14. Columbus sighted Island IV to the east after sailing SE from island III. Inagua comes into view in the south.
  15. 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.
  16. Columbus's initial course from Island IV was WSW. The theory requires that Columbus sailed west and WNW to make the Ragged Islands landfall.
  17. After leaving Island IV, the theory requires a course change from WSW to NW not recorded in the log.
  18. After passing 7 leagues SE of Cabo Verde on Island III, the Ragged Islands were then 16 leagues farther west. On the Grand Turk route, the Ragged Islands are about 30 leagues from this point, on a course West by North.
  19. Columbus reports that Island IV is 8 leagues from Island I. The theory's distance is about 5 times greater.


The quote:

"With this single exception, this route of discovery through the Bahamas from Grand Turk to the Ragged Islands north of Cuba has a better fit with Columbus's Journal than any route yet identified."
-- Robert H. Power


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