May 14th, 2014
12:58 PM ET

Has Columbus' Ship Been Found? Here are the Clues

After almost 500 years, the Santa Maria, the flagship vessel of Christopher Columbus' fleet, may have been found off the coast of Haiti.

While archaeologists will have to excavate and examine the ship to determine authenticity, underwater explorer Barry Clifford – the man who led the team that says it found the vessel – said several things makes him certain of the discovery.

THE CLUES: Columbus' diary, Spanish stones, and 15th century artifacts.

finding santa maria


On "New Day" Wednesday, Clifford said Christopher Columbus left many hints in his diary.

The first detail is a rough map Columbus drew in his journal that includes a fort he built, Navidad.

That's how Clifford's team knew the area to search was around Haiti.

From there, Clifford said Columbus wrote in his diary that the day after he wrecked his ship, they built a fort on land that was a league and a half, or 4.7 miles, from it.

"Somebody is telling me exactly where to look," Clifford said.

The major mistake in the past, however, was other explorers incorrectly mapped where Navidad was located.

Clifford said it wasn't until 2003, when the University of Florida's Dr. Kathy Deegan discovered the actual location of Navidad two miles further west than originally thought, they landed on the correct area.

Watch the video above to see how Clifford's team used this map to locate the ship.

This map gives a wider view of Clifford's search area, highlighted in red.


Once they located the site, Clifford said Spanish stones at the location let them know they were right.

Clifford said the ship was built in Spain and several tons of stones from the Iberian peninsula were put in the bottom for balance.

On the ship site, Clifford said "we're looking for a big pile of stones that look like they fell out of a dump truck."

Clifford said his team found rocks that spanned the size of about "two football fields."

"Stones from the Iberian peninsula do not belong on a coral reef," he said.

Clifford said he found Spanish stones and 15th century artifacts with clues from Columbus' diary.

Clifford said he found Spanish stones and 15th century artifacts with clues from Columbus' diary.



Sometimes all a discovery takes is circling back to a location you've visited before.

Clifford said they had previously searched the same site in 2003, but were lead off-track because they misidentified an artifact as a tube in the water.

In 2012 he had a "revelation in the middle of the night" that the object was indeed a 'lombard,' or a canon, from the 15th century. He said they also found three wheels that were made to transport a canon on land.

With that realization, he felt more certain about his discovery.

Clifford said: "There's been less than a dozen of these lombards found in the Western hemisphere. What are the chances that the 8th lombard found ... is going to be exactly the distance that Columbus described?"

Clifford plans to go back to Haiti next month to meet with authorities and decide what steps to take next.


Watch the clip above and weigh in below – are you convinced Clifford's team found the Santa Maria? 


READ: 500-year-old mystery: Wreck off Haiti may be Columbus' flagship Santa Maria


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