It is August 3, 1492 and Pedro de Salcedo has had little experience at sea or aboard a ship. But he can read and write — a rare skill for a boy of his times — and because of this, he is assigned as ship's boy to a sailing vessel bound for India. The ship's commander is a man who calls himself "Captain General of the Ocean Sea." He is a man known for leading morning prayers and for his fiery temper. He is Christopher Columbus, and Pedro de Salcedo, along with the 40 other men aboard the Santa Maria, are riding with him into history.
From August until October of 1492, Christopher Columbus and the ships under his command — the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria — sail into the great unknown, searching the seas for a western route to India. Pedro keeps a journal of the voyage. He describes the hopelessness shared by some of the men on board after so many months on the open sea, and the near mutiny that Columbus overcomes before land is finally spotted on a moonlit horizon on October 12, 1492. The beach on which Columbus steps is given the name of San Salvador. Pedro remains by his captain's side — and keeps writing in his journal — throughout the months Columbus and his men explore the Americas to claim what they find in the name of the king and queen of Spain.
Pam Conrad based her novel on extensive research of Columbus and his historic voyage. Telling her story through journal entries made by the young Pedro allows the reader a personal and unique perspective on the events that would shake worlds, both old and new, on either side of the Atlantic. When the Santa Maria finally makes it back to Spain in February 1493, after many harrowing months, storms and squalls, Pedro de Salcedo, it is said, never returns to the sea again.