Ferdinand Magellan and me (52)

Under weigh for Tenerife

Our yacht Wathara
How it began

    Magellan and me under way

    We had a great ride in Wathara from San Lucar to Madeira and Tenerife– flying fish weather. We picked them up off the deck every morning and grilled them in butter for breakfast. Delicious but bony. We also towed a trolling line but never had much luck out of sight of land.

    On the same route, Pigafetta found his sea legs after a couple of days spewing over the side. He also was entranced by flying fish and painted a water colour sketch that looks as if Trinidad is being attacked by flying fish. No doubt he was astonished by the notion that fish can fly. It was the kind of nonsense spread about by John de Mandeville, so maybe there was some truth in all those tall tales of the unknown world.

    Pigafetta was also inspired by the sight of a brave fleet under full sail in line astern with a white moustache at each bow. Flying from each masthead was the royal standard.– the Habsburg eagle. Trinidad also displayed Magellan’s coat of arms on the poop: on a field argent three bars checky, gules and argent quartered with the five wounds of Christ, crest an eagle with spread wings. It was nearly the same as the arms of the Portuguese royal family and it irritated the captains of San Antonio, Concepción and Victoria.

    Magellan had concerns not only about the loyalty of his captains but also their competence. Captains in the Spanish service had no need to understand navigation, which was left to the pilot who ranked below the master. Captains were appointed according to their political affiliation rather than their competence, and that was certainly the case in the Armada de Maluku.

    Magellan had two loyal followers: his brother-in-law, Duarte Barbosa, who was a supernumerary like Pigafetta, and Juan Serrano, captain of Santiago. No one would ever describe Magellan as a shrinking violet but he must have had moments of loneliness. His staunchest supporter was Pigafetta despite certain ideological differences. In the coming months Magellan would need all the support he could get.
    As for me, 500 years later, I was having difficulties too.


Published by


Sailor from wayback with a Master's degree in Technology Management. Prefer classical music to rap and chicken curry to steak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.