Magellan was a portuguese sailor who wanted to go to India. He new of another sailor who had sailed around Africa and up to India, but it took him a year to do so. Magellan thought he could get to India a lot faster if he went west, hoping to find a river and cut through America (Which Christopher Columbus discovered on his attempt to go to India in 1492).
It took Magellan 18 months to get ready for this monster of a voyage. Magellan left from Spain on the 20th on September 1519. He took five ships and two hundred and eighty men with him.
The first few days of the voyage were peaceful and quiet. But when Magellan was arriving at his first destination, Tenerife, he got word that three of his captain’s were plotting to kill him. Magellan knew who the captains were and had an idea on when he thought the would attack him.
He called a meeting to talk about the next stage of the voyage, and sure enough the captains tried to start an argument. But Magellan stayed cool and agreed to every thing they said. He was quite humiliated, but he was still alive.
For a while the captains still tried to provoke Magellan. However one time one captain went too far and asked for mutiny (to start a rebellion against the boss). This was the opportunity Magellan had been waiting for. He arrested the captain, and had put in chains behind bars. Seeing what Magellan had done, the other two captains dismissed the plot.
Magellan reached the Americas and sailed down the coast looking for a river which cut through the land to the other side. However, each river he found and sailed into led to a dead end.
When Magellan was down to the very southern tip of South America he found a river which cut through the land and to the other side. However while he was in the river it was very stormy and the water was very choppy and rough. In fact, the water was so rough Magellan’s row boats had to pull the ship along the river. It took Magellan a whole three months to sail down this river. Today we call this river the “Straits of Magellan”.
When Magellan reached the end of the river, the Ocean was so calm and peaceful that Magellan named it the “Pacific Ocean” (this means calm).By this time Magellan’s sailors were over and done with the voyage and begged Magellan to let them turn the ship around and go home, but Magellan refused. He was sure that India was close by, but it wasn’t.
He and his sailors kept sailing for another three months. They ran out of food and became so hungry that they were eating sawdust!! They almost ran out of water. Then at long last they sighted land!
While his men were busy loading up with fresh food and water, Magellan realized that he had not reached India, he was in fact on a group of islands not far off China!! (Today we call these islands the Marianas.)
He and his men boarded their ships and sailed on. A few days later they sighted another group of islands. Magellan thought for sure this was India. But it wasn’t, he had reached the Philippines!
By this time Magellan was wondering if he would ever reach India. Well I’ll tell you now he never did. While gathering food and water in the Philippines, he agreed to help a village chief fight with another tribe. He and his men were out numbered and had to retreat to their boats. Well Magellan was killed during the retreat.
Magellan’s lieutenant continued on the journey. Out of the 5 ships and 280 men Magellan started out with, his lieutenant reached India with one ship and thirty-five men.
After reaching India the lieutenant continued on going west and went back up to Africa and finally reached Portugal.
All up, the voyage took three years.
Even though Magellan died before reaching India, his ship was the very first ship to have ever sailed around the world.
By Naomi McDonald 10-8-10
Info from The Story Of The World by Susan Wise Bauer, and Fredinand Magellan by Struan Reid.