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On the Vessel Sailed by Bartholomé Ruiz in 1526: Characterization and Significance for the Pre-Columbian Archaeology of Northwestern South America
Terrae Incognitae (2008)
  • Cameron M. Smith, Portland State University
  • Greg Baker, Portland State University
  • John F. Haslett
  • Iliana Lopez, University of Texas at Austin
Abstract
What sort of vessel was Bartholomé Ruiz sailing, and how was his ship rigged (with regards to sail type) on the day of his October 1526 encounter with an aboriginal Ecuadorian sailing vessel off the coast of northern Ecuador? The answer to this question is significant because one of Ruiz’s crew members later commented that the native sailing vessel "carried masts and yards of very fine wood, and cotton sails of the same form as those of our ships…." Therefore, if we can identify whether the Ruiz vessel was lateen-rigged or square-rigged we can be reasonably certain how the native sailing raft was rigged; if not specifically stating that the native vessel was lateen rigged, it can be determined whether or not the native vessel was fore-and-aft rigged (e.g,. as a lateen sail would have been) versus transverse-rigged (in the manner of a square sail). This aids in understanding native Ecuadorian maritime options and constraints.

The question of square or lateen rigging on these native vessels has been addressed before, most notably by Edwards, who concluded that they were fore-and-aft rigged, probably lateen, but his conclusion rested on less evidence than is available today. In this paper we use additional evidence to characterize the Ruiz vessel and its rigging in order to evaluate Edwards' conclusion.
Disciplines
Publication Date
June, 2008
DOI
10.1179/tin.2008.40.1.47
Citation Information
Cameron M. Smith, Greg Baker, John F. Haslett and Iliana Lopez. "On the Vessel Sailed by Bartholomé Ruiz in 1526: Characterization and Significance for the Pre-Columbian Archaeology of Northwestern South America" Terrae Incognitae Vol. 40 Iss. 1 (2008) p. 47 - 59
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/cameron-smith/10/