Navigation and Voyage
which Fernando de Magalhāes Made
from Seville to Maluco in the Year 1519.

(By a Genoese Pilot.)

This page provides the Genoese pilot's account of the voyage from its departure from Seville until they reached the entrance to the Pacific Ocean. The pilot is thought to be Mestre Bautista. The ship Concepción, spelled Conception throughout, is here restored to its original form. The Lisbon Ac. note found in numerous footnotes is Lisbon Academy note, presumably a document, or documents, at the Lisbon Academy of History (Academia Real da Historia Portugueza), but the Hakluyt editor offers no explanation, nor is there a bibliography. Some footnotes citing minor variations between Madrid and Paris manuscripts are omitted in this online version.

See the Lord Stanley entry on the Notes page for comments on the Genoese Pilot's account (item 1).

In this online edition, parenthetical phrases are as follows:

(phrase):  As printed in original,
[phrase]:  An insertion by the Hakluyt editor,
{phrase}: An insertion in this online edition.

Icons in the text below are links to Google Earth 3D views of:
Placename or position mentioned in Albo text Same, mentioned in both Albo and Pigafetta texts
Same, mentioned in Pigafetta text Placename mentioned but not visited.
Same, mentioned in Bautista text Modern placename displayed for reference purposes
Same, mentioned in Anonymous Portuguese text Anchorage
Same, mentioned in Magellan text   
In Google Earth's Places column, a misplaced placename. 3D view shows misplaced position (red bullet) and correct position (blue or green bullet)
  • Click any icon within the text to open Google Earth. Then double-click any placename in Places column or 3D view to zoom in on that location. Zoom has no effect for offshore locations, since it would simply display the water surrounding that location.
  • Both Albo and Pigafetta give latitude but—with one exception (in Albo) —not longitude data. Therefore, the latter values have been assigned based on other information; bearings, distance, landfall description, etc.
  • An un-named location is identified by the date it was written, or by latitude mentioned.
  • View the fleet's track from Seville to the western mouth of the Strait of Magellan.
Key to Footnotes
*, †, ‡, ^from Hakluyt printed edition
§, §§, Δadded to this online edition

He {Magellan} sailed from Seville on the 10th day of August of the said year [1519], and remained at the bar until the 21st day of September, and as soon as he got outside, he steered to the southwest to make the island of Tenerife, and they reached the said island on the day of St. Michael, which was the 21st of September.* Thence he made his course to fetch the Cape Verde islands, and they passed between the islands and the Cape without sighting either the one or the other. Having got as far as this neighbourhood, he shaped his course so as to make for Brazil, and as soon as they sighted the other coast of Brazil, he steered to the southeast† along the coast as far as Cabo-frio, which is in twenty-three degrees south latitude; and from this cape he steered to the west, a matter of thirty leagues, to make the Rio de Janeiro, which is in the same latitude as Cabo-Frio, and they entered the said Rio on the day of St. Lucy, which was the 13th of December, in which place they took in wood, and they remained there until the first octave of Christmas, which was the 26th of December of the same year.

* Pigafetta says the fleet went out of Seville on the 10th of August, 1519; that it sailed from S. Lucar on the 20th of September, and reached Tenerife on the 26th, and continued its voyage thence on the 3rd of October, navigating to the South. Lisbon Academy note.

† The Paris MS. has “southwest.” This must be the true reading. Lisbon Ac. note. The Madrid MS. also has southwest.

They sailed from this Rio de Janeiro on the 26th December, and navigated along the coast to make the Cape of St. Mary, which is in thirty-four degrees and two-thirds; as soon as they sighted it, they made their course west-northwest, thinking they would find a passage for their voyage, and they found that they had got into a great river of fresh water, to which they gave the name of river of St. Christopher, and it is in thirty-four degrees, and they remained in it till the 2nd of February, 1520.*§

* Pigafetta mentions this river, which is the Plata, in 34 deg. 20 min. Lisbon Ac. note.

§ Now, Rio de la Plata. See “Placenames” file for a few more details.

He sailed from this river of St. Christopher on the 2nd of the said month of February; they navigated along the said coast, and further on to the south they discovered a point which is in the same river more to the south, to which they gave the name of Point St. Anthony { Cabo San Antonio}; it is in thirty-six degrees, hence they ran to the south-west, a matter of twenty-five leagues, and made another cape which they named St. Apelonia { Cabo Santa Polonia} , which is in thirty-six degrees; thence they navigated to the west-south-west to some shoals, which they named Shoals of the Currents,§ which are in thirty-nine degrees; and thence they navigated out to sea, and lost sight of land for a matter of two or three days, §§ when they again made for the land, and they came to a bay, which they entered, and ran within it the whole day, thinking that there was an outlet for Maluco, and when night came they found it was quite closed up, and in the same night they again stood out by the way which they had come in. This bay is in thirty-four degrees; they named it the island [sic, Bay] of St. Matthew. Δ

§ Thought to be the current Cabo Corrientes.

§§ The “lost sight of land” remark agrees with Albo's log entries for 21-23 February, which place the ship some 250 miles from the shore.

Δ Actually, Bay of St. Matthias. See footnote in Albo's log-book for details.

They navigated from this island of St. Matthew along the coast until they reached another bay, where they caught many sea-wolves and birds; to this they gave the name of “Bay of Labours;”* it is in thirty-seven degrees; here they were near losing the flag-ship in a storm. Thence they navigated along the said coast, and arrived on the last day of March of the year 1520 at the Port of St. Julian, which is in forty-nine and one-third degrees, and here they wintered, and found the day a little more or less than seven hours.†

* We have not found mention of this name of “Bahia dos trabalhos” in any other writer. Lisbon Ac. note

§ “Bahia dos trabalhos” is an odd name, and is here thought to be an error in translation. Given the “sea wolves,” this may be the Lupi Marini of the Anonymous Portuguese.

Pigafetta puts this port in 49 deg. 30 min. The Transylvan in 49 and 1⁄3, Barros in 50 deg., and says they arrived there on the 2nd of April. Lisbon Ac. note. {Note: Puerto San Julián is at 49° 20' 00" S, 67° 45' 00" W. (-49.3333° & -67.75°, respectively).}

In this port three of the ships rose up against the Captain-major, their captains saying that they intended to take him to Castile in arrest, as he was taking them all to destruction. Here, through the exertions of the said Captain-major, and the assistance and favour of the foreigners whom he carried with him, the Captain-major went to the said three ships which were already mentioned, and there the captain of one of them was killed, who was treasurer of the whole fleet, and named Luis de Mendoça; he was killed in his own ship* by stabs with a dagger by the chief constable of the fleet, who was sent to do this by Fernando de Magalhāes in a boat with certain men. The said three ships having thus been recovered, five days later Fernando de Magalhāes ordered Gaspar de Queixada to be decapitated and quartered; he was captain of one of the ships,† and was one of those who had mutinied.

* The Ship Victoria.

† The Ship Concepción.

In this port they refitted the ship. Here the captain-major made Alvaro de Mesquita, a Portuguese,* captain of one of the ships the captain of which had been killed. There sailed from this port on the 24th of August four ships, for the smallest of the ships had been already lost;† he had sent it to reconnoitre, and the weather had been heavy, and had cast it ashore, where all the crew had recovered along with the merchandise, artillery and fittings of the ship. They remained in this port, in which they wintered, five months and twenty-four days‡ and they were seventy degrees less ten minutes to the southward.^

* Alvaro de Mesquita was a cousin of Magellan.

† The ship which was here lost was the Santiago, the captain of which was Joāo Serrāo. Lisbon. Ac. note.

‡ There seems to be some mistake or transcriber's error. It is seen by the narrative that the navigators, having arrived at Port St. Julian at the end of March, or beginning of April, and going out of it on the 24th of August, they wintered there for the space of four months and twenty-four days, and this is what Pigafetta says: “they passed there nearly five months.” Lisbon. Ac. note.

^ “E havia delles ao sull 73 gr. menos 10 minutos.” It has been impossible for us to understand the calculations of the writer in this place. Lisbon. Ac. note. A possible explanation of this passage may be found in a passage of Castanheda, lib. 6, cap. 13, which describes St. Julian as distant from Seville 71 deg. from North to South, and this calculation would refer to the distance from Seville.

They sailed on the 24th day of the month of August of this said year from this port of St. Julian and navigated a matter of twenty leagues along the coast, and so they entered a river which was called Santa Cruz, which is in fifty degrees,* where they took in goods and as much as they could obtain; the crew of the lost ship were already distributed among the other ships, for they had returned by land to where Fernando de Magalhāes was, and they continued collecting the goods which had remained there during August and up to the 18th September, and there they took in water and much fish which they caught in this river; and in the other, where they wintered, there were people like savages, and the men are from nine to ten spans in height, very well made; they have not got houses, they only go about from one place to another with their flocks, and eat meat nearly raw: they are all of them archers and kill many animals with arrows, and with the skins they make clothes, that is to say, they make the skins very supple, and fashion them after the shape of the body, as well as they can, then they cover themselves with them, and fasten them by a belt round the waist. When they do not wish to be clothed from the waist upwards, they let that half fall which is above the waist, and the garment remains hanging down from the belt which they have girt round them.†

* The anonymous Portuguese, the companion of Duarte Barbosa, says they gave it the name of “Santa Cruz,” because they arrived there the 14th of September, the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.§ Lisbon Ac. note.

§ In the Hakluyt edition account, the Anonymous Portuguese simply states that “we found a river to which we gave the name of Santa Cruz” and gives neither the date nor the reason for the name.

† In the Illustrated {London} News of March 27th, 1869 {p. 305}, there is a drawing of some Patagonians: these are represented almost exactly as they are described in the text, for some of them have their shoulders bare, and the skins let down below the waist as here described.

They wear shoes which cover them four inches above the ankle, full of straw inside to keep their feet warm. They do not possess any iron, nor any other ingenuity of weapons, only they make the points of their arrows with flints, and so also the knives with which they cut and stitch their shoes and clothes. They are very agile people, and do no harm, and thus they follow their flocks: wherever night finds them there they sleep; they carry their wives along with them with all the chattels which they possess. The women are very small and carry heavy burdens on their backs; they wear shoes and clothes just like the men. Of these men they obtained three or four and brought them in the ships, and they all died except one, who went to Castile in a ship which went thither.*

* Probably in the ship which fled away, as will be mentioned later. Lisbon Ac. note.

They sailed from this river of Santa Cruz on the 18th of October:* they continued navigating along the coast until the 21st day of the same month, October, when they discovered a cape, to which they gave the name of Cape of the Virgins, because they sighted it on the day of the eleven thousand virgins; it is in fifty-two degrees, a little more or less, and from this cape a matter of two or three leagues distance, we found ourselves at the mouth of a strait.†

* Amoretti, the editor of Pigafetta, observes, they whilst the fleet was in the river of Santa Cruz, between 50 deg. and 40 deg. South latitude, there was, on the 11th of October, an eclipse of the Sun, “which (he says) the Portuguese and Spanish writers mention, and which is registered in the astronomical tables;” and he judges it to be an error of Castanheda putting this phenomenon on the 17th of April, and his attributing to Magellan the calculation of longitude of which he speaks. Barros also mentions an eclipse of the sun in April. It is noteworthy that neither our pilot's narrative nor Pigafetta mentions a phenomenon which still in those times did not happen without causing some impression on men's minds, or at least without exciting public curiosity. Lisbon Ac. note.

   I am indebted to the courtesy of the Astronomer Royal, Mr. G. B. Airy, for the following information, which confirms Castanheda and Barros: “1520, April 17. There was certainly (from our own calculations) a total solar eclipse about 1.20 p.m. Greenwich time. But in the Art de verifier les dates, in which the extreme Southern eclipses are not included, none is mentioned for April 17: consequently the eclipse was a Southern eclipse, crossing the South Atlantic.”

† This is the famous strait which till this day is named the Strait of Magellan, for the eternal and glorious memory of the famous Portuguese who discovered it. Castanheda says that Magellan, on account of arriving there on the 1st of November,§ gave it the name of All Saints' bay, and in the answer which André de S. Martin gave to the inquiries made to him about that navigation, he also names the channel that of All Saints' (Barros, Dec. 3, liv. 5, cap. 9). The anonymous Portuguese, the companion of Duarte Barbosa, whom we have quoted above, and who sailed in the “Victoria,” says that at first the navigators called it the Strait of the Victoria, because that ship was the first which sighted it. (Ramusio, 3rd edition, tom. i. page 370). Lisbon Ac. note.

§ Note however, that both Pigafetta and the Genoese pilot (ie, author of this page—see below) state they were already in the strait in October. The “All Saints bay” {note: Bay, not Strait} is from Magellan's Order of the Day, written on November 1—that is, All Saints Day—while anchored in a place to which he gave the name of Channel of All Saints {emphasis added}. In context, it is clear that he gave the name to the place of his anchorage, not to the entire strait.

We sailed along the said coast within that strait to discover what there was further in, and they found three channels, that is to say, two more in a southerly direction, and one traversing the country in the direction of Maluco, but at that time this was not yet known, only the three mouths were seen.§ The boats went thither, and brought back word, and they set sail and anchored at these mouths of the channels, and Fernando de Magalhāes sent two ships to learn what there was within, and these ships went: one returned to the Captain-major, and the other, of which Alvaro de Mesquita was captain, entered into one of the bays which was to the south, and did not return any more. Fernan de Magalhāes seeing that it did not come back, set sail,* and the next day he did not choose to make for the bays, and went to the south, and took another which runs north-west and south-east, and a quarter west and east.

§ Possibly, the mouths on either side of Isla Dawson, or others to the south of the island.

* Alvaro de Mesquita, a Portuguese, and cousin of Magellan, was captain of this ship which went to explore the passages of the Straits, and did not return, and its pilot was Estevan Gomes, also a Portuguese. This Estevan Gomes had been requesting the Emperor Charles V. to confide in him a few caravels to go and discover new lands; but as the proposal and enterprise of Mazellan [sic, Magellan] then interposed itself, and was preferred and accepted, Estevan Gomes continued after that to be a great enemy of the illustrious captain, and now profited by the opportunity to revenge himself on him, and to give vent to his rabid envy. He conspired, therefore, with others against the captain of his ship, Alvaro de Mesquita; they put him in irons, and brought him thus to Spain with the ship, telling the Emperor that Magellan was crazy, and had lied to His Majesty because he did not know where Banda was, nor Maluco. Besides this, they brought accusations against Mesquita of having counselled and persuaded Magellan to use the severity and cruelty with which he punished the first conspirators, etc. (V. the Letter of Transylvanus and Castanheda, liv. 6, cap. 8). Lisbon Ac. note.

He left letters in the place from which he sailed, so that if the other ship returned, it might make the course which he left prescribed. After this they entered into the channel, which at some places has a width of three leagues, and two, and one, and in some places half a league, and he went through it as long as it was daylight, and anchored when it was night: and he sent the boats, and the ships went after the boats, and they brought news that there was an outlet, for they already saw the great sea on the other side; on which account Fernando de Magalhāes ordered much artillery to be fired for rejoicing;* and before they went forth from this strait they found two islands, the first one larger, and the other nearer towards the outlet is the smaller one: § and they went out between these islands and the coast on the southern side, as it was deeper than on the other side. This strait is a hundred leagues in length to the outlet; that outlet and the entrance are in fifty-two degrees latitude. They made a stay in this strait from the 21st October to the 26th of November,† which makes thirty-six days of the said year of 1520, and as soon as they went out from the strait to sea, them made their course, for the most part, to west-north-west, … .

§ Possibly, Isla Desolación (the larger one) and Isla Narborough (the smaller one)—both unnamed at the time.

* The ships S. Antonio and Concepción were sent on this exploration of the Straits; they were with difficulty able to double the Cape Possession, named thus in Bougainville's map, and in others. They at length entered a narrow opening, which in the maps is named the first gut,§ and they proceeded thence to another bay, which is named Boucant bay, or Boucam. At the end of this they entered into another strait, named the second gut, and having passed that, they came out into another bay larger than the former ones. Then, seeing that the strait was prolonged and offered an outlet to the ships, they returned with the good news to Magellan, who was waiting for them, and on seeing him, they fired off all their artillery and shouted for joy. The fleet then sailed together as far as the third bay, and as they found two channels, Magellan despatched the two vessels, S. Antonio and Concepción, to examine whether the channel, which took the S.W. direction, would issue into the Pacific sea. Here it was that the ship S. Antonio deserted, going ahead of its companion for that purpose. The other two ships, Victoria and Trinidad, meanwhile entered the third channel, where they waited four days for the explorers. During this interval, Magellan despatched a well-equipped boat to discover the cape with which the strait ought to terminate: this having been sighted, and the boat returning with the news, all shed tears of consolation, and they gave to this cape the name of Cape Desire; it is that which is at the outlet of the strait on the South side. They then turned back to seek for the ships Concepción and S. Antonio, and leaving marks by which this one might steer, in case of its having lost the way (for they were still ignorant of its desertion), they sailed forward until they came out into the Pacific Ocean. Lisbon Ac. note.

§ The “first gut” and “second gut” are the first and second narrows (Angosturas Primera y Segunda ).

Pigafetta remarks: In the strait in which they were, in the month of October, the night was only of three hours; and Transylvan [Maximilianus] says that, In November the navigators found the night of little more than five hours; and that on one night they saw to the left hand many fires. It is from this that that country came to be called Terra do fogo. Lisbon Ac. note.

• • • • •

“… one Joam Lopez, who was the chief treasurer, should be captain of the fleet, and the chief constable of the fleet should be captain of one of the ships; he was named Gonzalo Vaz Despinosa.