January 26, 2023

Video Find: "Philosophy of Sailing": Solo to Hawaii and Return, 2017

Christian Williams talks sailing philosophy as he records a solo sailing journey from LA to Oahu and back in this video. On this trip Williams sails a new boat to him, one whose name, the Thelonious II, will delight jazz fans. The boat is named after pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, who in the 1940s and 1950s surprised the jazz world with new takes on harmonies and his eccentric playing style.

January 25, 2023

Sailing to Hawaii Singlehanded Between Hurricanes

Here’s a video that records a sailing journey from Newport Beach, California, to Hawaii by a lone sailor aboard a small trimaran dubbed the Free Spirit. The sailor, Dale Bowman, explains he had previously circumnavigated the Baja Peninsula from the Sea of Cortez to Newport Beach and at age 66 yearned for a bigger journey and decided to head for Hawaii.

January 24, 2023

Circumnavigation Watch: Around the World in 73 hours—A Guinness Record

Two Indian travelers just broke the Guinness World Record for circumnavigating the globe—in just 73 hours, a feat of Phileas Fogg proportions. Long-time friends and business partners Ali Irani and Sujoy Kumar Mitra have broken the Guinness World Record for crossing the world's seven continents in the fastest time ever.

January 23, 2023

Video Find: Crossing the World's Most Dangerous River Bar (Columbia River-Pacific Ocean)

"This is the world's most dangerous bar crossing. It is called the graveyard of the Pacific for a reason, as over 2,000 shipwrecks are scattered around the area. And over 700 seafarers lost their lives here."

January 13, 2023

Juan Serrano and the Santiago Shipwreck and Rescue

After the Santiago's shipwreck near Puerto Santa Cruz, two crewmen hiked over
rough winter terrain for two weeks to return to Puerto San Julián and find help.

Unlikely Profiles

Of the ships’ captains, Juan Rodríguez Serrano was the most valuable to Magellan. Serrano was the only original captain who remained loyal during the mutiny at Puerto San Julián, and his skills as a mariner helped save lives and navigate the strait.

January 01, 2023

Columbus and the Ruysch World Map: When the Vikings Reached Asia?

Johannes Ruysch world map
Johannes Ruysch world map.

If you plot Leif Erikson's voyage of discovery on Johannes Ruysch’s world map of 1508, the Viking explorer reaches not just Newfoundland but the easternmost point of the Asian continent, a land he labeled “Terra Nova” (New World).

Given the knowledge of the day—five years before Balboa found the “South Sea”—Ruysch missed the existence of North America and the Pacific Ocean. In this way the map serves as a window into the worldview of Christopher Columbus, who believed to the end that Japan and China lay not far beyond Hispaniola. 

December 21, 2022

Video Find: Indian Ocean Crossing in a Catamaran Yacht

Note: Crossing the Indian Ocean has become a lot easier and more comfortable in the past 500 years, no wind even needed. Still pirates, though.

December 16, 2022

Magellan's Ally Duarte Barbosa Killed at Cebu Massacre

Duarte Barbosa, Magellan ally.
Duarte Barbosa, Magellan's ally.

A relation of Ferdinand Magellan’s by marriage, Duarte Barbosa was a key ally on the voyage, yet also a source of trouble more than once.[1] He may also have been among the experienced travelers in the crew, possibly meeting Magellan in India around 1512.

December 08, 2022

Video Find: Sarimanok, Bali to Madagascar in Neolithic Dugout

Writer and sailor Bob Hobman set out to cross the Indian Ocean in a 20-meter-long dugout canoe. The 65-day journey went straight across the ocean from Indonesia to Madagascar instead of along the coasts of India and Africa, the normal trade routes over the centuries. Hobsman was looking at how Austronesian-speaking peoples migrated from Southeast Asia to Madagascar.

November 13, 2022

Video Find: When Ferdinand Magellan Reached Rail

The US President's Bulletproof Railcar

Thorough documentary on the Ferdinand Magellan: "US Car Number 1, the Ferdinand Magellan, sits in the Gold Coast Railway Museum in Miami. It's 120 tonnes of bulletproof, armoured railcar: a train carriage designed to move the President of the United States around the country in safety and style. At least, it was, until other transport came along to do a better job."

November 04, 2022

Video Find: The Evolution of the Galleon


A thorough documentary on the evolution of the galleon using excellent video footage and illustrations. The film covers caravels, carracks, and galleons, and how they differed/evolved.

Books on Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Columbus, and Portuguese exploration constantly mention all three types of ships, but rarely pause to assess and appreciate their differences, and what those differences meant to expeditions.

October 26, 2022

Enrique of Malacca Online Resources, Contemporary Sources

Updated 10/26/22

Contemporary Sources

Most of the contemporary writings about the Magellan-Elcano expedition are available online, translated into English and for free. These include the accounts of Antonio Pigafetta and others who survived the voyage and Maximilian of Transylvania, who interviewed survivors. Here are links to many of them. (More coming soon.)