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Big Mistake

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1. The Big Mistake: Christopher Columbus thought that the world was pear-shaped

Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain with the hope of finding a shorter route to The East Indies (an important trading center), which was located in Asia. The problem? Columbus thought the earth was pear-shaped, not shaped like a ball. He thought that the distance from East to West was shorter than it actually is. This miscalculation caused him to take the wrong route, which landed him in the wrong country. Unfortunately for him, Columbus never did find a faster route to the East Indies. Fortunately for us, the newly discovered land he reached was the land of America.

2. The Big Mistake: The captain of the Titanic wasn’t given the keys to the storage room

The Titanic, a massive luxury ship dubbed “unsinkable,” set sail in April in the year 1912. The “unsinkable ship” sank, and the tragedy became known as one of the greatest maritime disasters in history. But historians say that it could have been easily avoided, if only a captain would have handed over some keys.

Just before the Titanic set sail to New York, the operators of the ship decided to replace the captain of the ship, David Blair, with someone else by the name of Lightoller. When Blair handed over his post to Lightoller, he forgot to hand over another important item along with it: the keys to the storage room that contained the ship’s binoculars.

Four days into the Titanic’s voyage, a lookout spotted an iceberg in the ship’s path and alerted the ship’s staff. The captain immediately ordered the staff to stop the engines and steer the ship around the obstacle. But they were too late. “Without access to the glasses, the lookouts… were forced to rely on their eyes and only saw the iceberg when it was too late to take action,” says an article in The Telegraph. The ship crashed into the iceberg, creating a gaping hole on its hull. The ship sank less than three hours after the collision.

It was a tragedy of epic proportions. Because they ship’s owners were so sure it was unsinkable, they did not equip it with enough lifeboats to allow all the passengers to escape. Out of the 2,224 passengers and crew aboard the ship, over 1,500 lost their lives. Sadly, the lookout who initially spotted the iceberg admitted that if  he would have had his binoculars, he would have spotted the iceberg sooner, and the ship would have had enough time to steer away from it.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 761)

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