Ferdinand Magellan and me (77)

Magellan in the pacific

The mighty Pacific Ocean

With what elation had the captain general set his course nor-westerly upon achieving Balboa’s South Sea. By the Martellus map it was only a short sail from El Paso to Xanadu and as far as anyone could tell the course was roughly north west. Once clear of Patagonia the weather moderated and remained fair. It was so fair that he named this ocean Pacific. They sailed on, and on, and on with no storms and no sight of land. They sailed on, and on and he began to worry about their stock of food and water. They sailed on and on and food and water had to be rationed so they scoured the bilges for rats. They sailed on and on and men fell sick with some disease that covered their skin with a severe rash. They cut the leather from the yards and towed it astern to soften it until they could eat it. Men began to die and others ate sawdust. God did not listen to Magellan’s prayers and Pigafetta noticed him withdrawing into solitude.

Pigafetta had adopted one of the Patagonian giants that Magellan proposed to take back to Spain and convert to the faith. He named the giant after Saint Paul, who found enlightenment on the road to Damascus, and tutored him in the Spanish language and the scriptures. He also compiled a dictionary of the Patagonian language, especially in relation to Setebos, their god, and so they were able to conduct some kind of conversation.

He learned that Paul had left behind a wife and two sons but it seemed like a loose relationship. Once they reached manhood, sons became independent and food from the hunt was shared equally within the tribe. As far as Pigafetta could work out, Setebos was a combination of God and Satan, responsible for every mystery.

. When Paul fell sick Pigafetta bought a rat from a crew member and cut it in half and cut off little pieces for Paul, but the giant could not swallow. He died lying on his back gazing up at the billowing sails and the blue sky. He made the sign of the cross and said,’Setebos.’ Having been baptised, he was entitled to a Christian burial. The priest, Valderrama first had to consecrate the entire Pacific Ocean and then Paul was consigned to the sharks.

see:A Singular Captain

    The mighty Pacific


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Your email address will not be published.