Originally Posted by hpeer
Just to season the sauce a bit, I'll throw this tid bit out there....
I was reading a bio of Maggellen that had some translated quotes from his log. He was discussing his decision to hole up for the winter in the bay where the mutiny occurred. He noted that he wanted to set out the winter in this bay and then proceed through the strait in the spring.
How did he know there was a strait ahead of him?
Instead of reading a Bio you should read the original story written by Pigafetta (great read), one of the few that survived that voyage. He explains that (translated): "...If it was not been the Captain General (Magalhães) we would not be able to find this strait because we all thought it had no way out. But the Captain knew that he should pass by a hidden strait because he had seen it on a map...that was kept in the treasure house in Portugal."
Several Portuguese maps included that Passage
before Magalhães passed there and those waters had been explored even if the state secrecy of the time does not allow it to know exactly who were the Captains.
Maybe Tristão da Cunha or João de Lisboa that mapped the passage
before Magalhães passed there. Some say that João de Lisboa was sailing with Magalhães and in that case it was probably him that found that passage for Magalhães, assuming he had not been there before.
Anyway the biggest discovery and the more difficult feat in what regards navigation
is not well understood and in fact only sailors can have an easy perception of that: It was the trade route
to go to India following and mapping the trade winds.
Going to America was easy, from Iceland
or Portugal/Spain. All it was needed was going to Iceland
and then go West following the wind
. You want to go west, you sail to West.
To go to India rounding Africa
they had to leave the coast of Africa
at Cabo Verde and actually go on the opposite direction
for thousands of miles reaching almost Brazil
before turning East again. Seems simple today after they have mapped those winds and that route
but there was nothing logical about going on the opposite direction for going East. It was needed brave sailors and lots of perseverance to find out how to manage to pass the Southern point of Africa.
The ones that managed that were the best sailors and navigators and the one that was considered by all as the best was the one that succeeded that, Bartolomeu Dias, the best sailor from the XV century. But that was only possible due to the work of many other great sailors that are not well known. Just look at this list and you will be surprised with the size of it: