Magellan’s Voyage
by Daryl E. Vogel

A full size replica of the Victoria, one of Magellan's five original ships and the only one to make it back to Spain

Ferdinand Magellan was the first person to circumnavigate the world. He was also the person to find a way through South America and to establish trade routes to the Spice Islands. He was Portuguese for most of his life until he decided to become Spanish. A while after that he set out on a journey that would change the world.

The timeline

In August 1519 Magellan set out with five ships and around 200 crewmen to sail around the world and establish connections with the Spice Islands. The ships were called:

  • Trinidad (captain: Magellan)
  • San Antonio (captain: Juan de Cartagena)
  • Concepcion (captain: Gaspar de Quesada)
  • Santiago (captain: Juan Serrano)
  • Victoria (captain: Luis Mendoza)

September, 1519 - they left the continent of Europe

November, 1519 - they crossed the equator

December 1519 - they saw South America

April 1520 – there was a mutiny involving Gaspar Quesada and Juan de Cartagena. They were both kicked off the voyage one way or another. Duarte Barbosa became the captain of the Victoria. Gomez became the captain of the other one. At some point, the Santiago was sent on an exploring mission and crashed. All the crewmen made it back alive.

October, 1520 - the passage through South America was found.

November, 1520 - they traveled through the stretch then called All Saints Channel. Now it is called the Strait of Magellan. The San Antonio deserted the voyage after the crew forced the captain to turn around and return to Spain. The remaining ships arrived onto the western side of South America proving that the All Saints Channel did work. Magellan named the Pacific Ocean after the Latin word pacificus (meaning tranquil) after the stillness of it.

February, 1521 - they again reached the equator.

April, 1521 - Magellan went with a small attack force of 60 to kill the enemy tribe of a tribe he had befriended in the Phillipines. They walked through water for a long way to reach the ground; the boats didn’t go farther because of rocks. The other eleven sailors stayed behind to guard the boats. When the group got close enough to the enemy island, they saw the tribe had three teams on the coast waiting for them. In all there were over 1,500 people there. The musketeer and crossbow men shot at them uselessly. The locals came down immediately. Seeing that Magellan was their leader the locals attacked him. He died and the Spaniards lost the battle.

May, 1521 – With too few people to manage the boats, they burned the Concepcion so others could not use it.

November, 1521 - they reached the Spice Islands. The Trinidad started to leak shortly thereafter and went back to the Spice Islands to be fixed. The Victoria continued on. Some weeks later the Trinidad left port and was captured by the Portuguese. It was later wrecked by a storm while in a Portuguese port.

May, 1522 - the Victoria reached the Cape of Good Hope.

September, 1522 - the Victoria made it back to Spain. It only had 18 people left onboard.

Click here to read more things we've learned on our trans-America bike ride



Not all the people on the ships were sailors, many were missionaries


A priest



An explorer


A native of Patagonia



One of the staples they relied on was dried fish


Daryl talks with Magellan