History | Culture | Science

A “Fiery” Eclipse Saved Columbus From Starvation

Columbus and his crew were running out of options — so they turned their eyes to the sky.

Sean Kernan
5 min readMar 12, 2023


A recreation of the types of ships Columbus used. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

June 25, 1503

Two large ships hobbled around the bend of St Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. One had a broken sail.

The other lurched to its side. Both were infested with termites and summer storms in the Caribbean had ravaged their hulls. The men aboard were bruised and battered, and eager to escape the wooden coffins. Most cursed themselves for having taken this mission.

The ships limped to shore and beached in the sand, doomed to never set sail again.

Their fleet captain, Christopher Columbus, stepped onto the chalky white sand and surveyed the damage — and their predicament.

He knew they’d be stranded for some time and his men knew too. Their faces said as much.

He ordered them to make camp. They dismantled parts of the ships and used them to build shelters.

Within two weeks, they were approached by the local Arawak tribe who were drawn in by their fires. The sailors had limited supplies and quickly made friends with the tribe. They dined together and exchanged goods…



Sean Kernan

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