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I went to sea at the age of fourteen. In 1476, the ship on which I was aboard was attacked off the coast of Portugal. I managed to swim six miles to Lisbon. There I joined my brother Bartholomew, who was a chart maker. I also became a chart maker for a short period of time. I worked as a sugar buyer in the Portuguese islands off of Africa. From 1477-1482, I made merchant voyages as far as Iceland and Guinea. During this time I met pilots and navigators who believed in the existence of islands farther west. I settled in Lisbon and married the daughter of a Portuguese nobleman. By the time I was 32, I had become a master mariner in the Portuguese merchant service.
Influenced by my brother and Alonso Pinzon, I believed that I could reach land by sailing farther west. I began seeking support for a voyage to the west. After being turned down several times, I finally gained the
support of Ferdinand and Isabella after they conquered Granada. On August 3, 1492, I left Palos, Spain for my trip to the new world. I left with three ships, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, which I commanded. I first stopped in the Canary Islands and then sailed west until October 7th, when I change my course to Southwest. On October 12, I landed on a small island in the Bahamas. I found Cuba on October 27 and reached Hispaniola on December 5. Leaving some men to found a colony, I returned to Spain on the Nina. In October 1493, I set out on a second expedition and discovered Puerto Rico before arriving at Hispaniola to find the colony destroyed by Native Americans. I left in 1494 to explore the southern coast of Cuba. I left my brother in charge of the colony and returned to Spain in 1496.
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