Aurelio Tió, the author of this monograph, has spent many years advocating a particular site as the landing place of Columbus on the island of Puerto Rico during the course of the Admiral’s second voyage. Columbus, according to his son Ferdinand, kept a journal on this voyage. Unfortunately for historians, it has disappeared and we are dependent upon the fleet physician and historian, Dr. Diego Alvarez Chanca, and others, more or less reliable, for the details of the second voyage. Unlike the first, it was undertaken with a veritable armada of seventeen ships and fifteen hundred men who crossed the Atlantic (from the Canaries) in the remarkably fast time of three weeks.
No historian has given much attention to the Puerto Rican landing, and with good reason; it was a short stopover of a few days. Samuel Eliot Morison, in 1939, wrote that the landing place was “probably Boquerón Bay” and “might have been Salinas Bay.” In 1963, Morison wrote that “the fleet called either at Añasco Bay or Mayagüez Bay.” One year later, after conversations with Tió, Morison decided that the argument for Añasco “is clinched by the fact that Ponce de León, who was with Columbus in 1493, landed there thirteen years later.”
Tió has determined to settle three chief areas of controversy in identifying Columbus’ landing in Puerto Rico: the route along which the fleet sailed between the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the date of the landing, and the identity of the landing site. There is no real controversy about the route; similarly, the second point at issue, the landing date, does seem to have been the 19th of November. (However, before an official holiday is proclaimed, the discrepancy between the Julian and Gregorian calendars had better be resolved.)
The landing site has traditionally been known as “Aguada” (the watering place). Utilizing oral traditions, the voyage of Ponce de León who landed there in 1506, and especially the record of a 1526 lawsuit, Tió maintains that “the controversial aspects of this problem. . .,” have been resolved “by mathematical data of such uncontrovertible nature that no further discussion can be seriously countenanced.” The landing place was in Añasco Bay, close to Punta Cadena and near the mouth of the Calvache River, in the center of a cove called Ensenada de Rincón. However, those who advocate other landing sites will probably remain unconvinced, Tió’s “mathematical solution” notwithstanding.