Shipping Lessons from Christopher Columbus

columbusColumbus Day is approaching soon. And while US workers in the international freight shipping industry may or may not have this holiday off, there is certainly great importance from the journey of Christopher Columbus. And even though there is still some controversy regarding Christopher Columbus and his explorations, it is still a vital story in the history of shipping. As it is well known, one of the main purposes of Columbus’ journey across the Atlantic Ocean was to sail west for the purpose of discovering a new trade route to India. Europeans wanted to trade for items in India like silks and spices, and with the traditional routes cut off by the Ottoman Empire, Columbus seized an opportunity.

The three vessels that Columbus famously sailed on during his journey – the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria – helped bring immense popularity and recognition to maritime shipping. These vessels were said to hold only about 200-600 tons of cargo. Although these vessels were a far cry from today’s immense vessels, which can hold more cargo for ocean freight shipping, they were impressive for the standards of 1492. Columbus used these Caravel ships that were popular during the 15th century.

Finally, an important lesson for shippers, carriers and freight forwarders to understand from the Columbus story: overcoming obstacles. Financiers in Italy and Portugal rejected Columbus’ proposal before Spain finally agreed to his terms. Although Christopher Columbus clearly made mistakes in regards to underestimating the journey at sea, he did learn from his mistakes. He is regarded as the individual who discovered the New World and we have a federal holiday in his honor. This story is inspiration for shippers to also overcome their obstacles as well.

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