His ships, sailors, and provisions supplied by the monarch, Columbus departed from the port of Palos in southern Spain on August 3, 1492. He was delayed at the Spanish island of Gomera for about a month repairing his ship and waiting for the winds to strengthen. A small island off the northeast coast of Africa, Gomera is often referred to as "the birthplace of America" because it served as the launching pad for Columbus's maiden voyage. Columbus selected the island because of its abundance of natural resources and its close proximity to the southern trade winds which would carry him west. The island was under Spanish control and, therefore, was a perfect place to raise the Spanish flag and set forth. He set sail from Gomera on September 6, 1492. Calm seas meant that Columbus was still in view of the island of Hierro, just west of Gomera, until Saturday, September 8, when his years of research and dedication finally paid off: the winds had picked up and the voyage had truly begun.
To follow, and included with all of the timeline information presented here, is a portion of the actual journal kept by Columbus during his voyage:
Saturday, 8 September 1492
At 3 o'clock this morning the NE wind began to blow, and I set my course to the west. The Santa Maria took in so much water forward that my progress was impeded, and I only made 27 miles last night and today.