It's holiday time, folks. So while I'm busying boxing it up on Boxing Day, it's time for another edition of Great Capstans in History!
As I'm spending Christmas at home in Newfoundland, I thought I'd give a local shout-out. This all-natural looking number is the spinning heart of the replica Matthew, a 15th century caravel famously sailed to Newfoundland by John Cabot when he discovered it in 1497.
Caravels were popular amongst 15th century explorers due to their very shallow draught. That is to say, they didn't go very deep under the water while sailing. This made them ideal for exploring the unknown shores of the new world, but not very ideal for weathering the crossing of the Atlantic. Oops.
The legend (read, Canadian Heritage Minute) goes that as the Matthew entered the waters off Newfoundland, its progress was stayed due to the unimaginable numbers of codfish in the ocean. Upon his return to England, Cabot recommended Newfoundland as a limitless fishing ground that would last "until the end of time", which history shows occurred around 1992.
Other famous caravels include the Pinta and Niña which sailed with Christopher Columbus. Columbus himself sailed on the larger carrack Santa Maria, cause what a jerk.