Blown off course

To be blown off course in the sailing ship era meant be to diverted by unexpected winds, getting lost possibly to shipwreck or to a new destination. In the ancient world, this was especially a great danger before the maturation of the Maritime Silk Road in the Early Middle Ages, finding expression in the writing of Cosmas Indicopleustes.[1] Even in later eras, the ship could attempt to limit its divergence by tacking or heaving to, but it was often difficult to keep track by mere celestial navigation[2] before the invention of the marine chronometer in the late 18th century.[3]

A number of "discoveries" during the Age of Discovery were accidentally found in this way,[4] and the serendipity of being blown off course is also a common trope in fiction. Accidental discovery may have played a larger role than previously acknowledged in early European colonialism in contrast to the idea of a centrally-planned program as by Prince Henry the Navigator, but it is also thought that the Austronesian expansion was more directed and purposeful than once thought.