Vicente Yáñez Pinzón

Spanish Navigator

Born: 1463

Died: 1514

A native of Palos, in 1492 Pinzón sailed with the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the West Indies as captain of the Niña.

In 1499 he undertook a voyage to Brazil and the Caribbean, possibly following up a pre-Columbian voyage to Brazil by his brother. Sailing from Palos with four caravels, he skirted the Cape Verde Islands and struck the Brazilian coast at Cabo Santa Maria de la Consolacion (Cape San Agostinho, near Cape São Roque) on 26 January 1500.

Sailing west along the coast of Brazil, on which he spent four months, he entered the mouth of the Amazon. Thinking at first that it was the Ganges he named it Rio Santa Maria de la Mar Dulce. Apart from the claims of Vespucci, this is regarded as the official discovery of the river. Sailing between Trinidad and the mainland, Pinzón reached the Gulf of Paria (in Venezuela) (1 May 1500) and turned north, passing the Windward and Leeward Islands to the west, and coasting Puerto Rico and Hispaniola to the north. After having touched at Hispaniola, he steered northwest through the Bahamas, where he lost two ships, and returned to Palos in September 1500. A further proposed expedition of 1506, fitted out by Amerigo Vespucci, was abandoned in March 1507. In 1505 Pinzón was made governor of the colony in Puerto Rico.

In March 1508 Pinzón was commissioned to explore the coast to the west of the Antilles. Leaving Santo Domingo in Espanola with Juan Díaz de Solís, he appears to have sailed directly to the north coast of Honduras. He then coasted past present Belize, possibly as far as Cabo Catoche and beyond (the precise extent of the voyage is uncertain).

He returned to Santo Domingo, then afterwards to Spain in Aug 1509. The route is largely conjectural but could account for the appearance of the Yucatan Peninsula on Peter Martyr's map of 1511. Pinzón and de Solis are regarded as the first Europeans to see the coastline of what became known as Mexico, but they did nothing about what they had seen.

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