The Renaissance was a time of renewed interest in learning and technology. As a result of this "rebirth" in learning, a number of technological developments long known to Islamic sailors came into use in Western Europe. Among them were the Compass, which aided in navigation, and the Astrolabe, which enabled ships to navigate by the stars. Previously, they had navigated by the position of the sun in the sky. The adoption of the lateen sail enabled ships to tack against the wind, rather than wait on favorable winds. These developments allowed ships to navigate and sail long distances outside the sight of land and not lie idle during contrary winds.
Much of the renaissance learning regarding navigation and sailing was the work of the school of navigation founded by Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King John of Portugal. Henry had an intense interest in exploration and in spreading Christianity. His school of navigation led to the first explorations of the African Coast below the Cape.