Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20

On September 20, 1519, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan set sail from Spain to find a western sea route to the Spice Islands (Indonesia), commanding five ships and 270 men. He sailed to West Africa, then the South American coast, seeking a strait leading to the Pacific. In October 1520, he discovered a treacherous passage near the tip of South America, which took him 38 days to navigate. He wept with joy when ocean was sighted at the far end. His fleet navigated that ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that it was named "Pacific," from the Latin “pacificus” ("tranquil”). Magellan was killed in the Philippines, but one of his ships, the Victoria, became the first to circumnavigate the globe (1522), having sailed 42,000 miles. Pictured: the Victoria, from a 1590 map.

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