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Today’s Reason to Drink: Columbus and the Mermaids

On this day in 1493, Christopher Columbus, six months into his maiden voyage of discovery, spotted three “mermaids” swimming off the port bow and wrote that they were “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” They were actually manatees, which explains the bad review and poses the question. Was Christopher drunk? Maybe. He’d loaded his ships with a year’s worth of fortified wine, which traveled better than the non-fortified variety, and at one point the voyagers’ rations were reduced to bread, wine and whatever fish they could catch. So yeah, maybe.