Savor the world


    ‘Your successors are back: the training ship ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ on her 93rd Training Cruise, which includes a round-the-world trip as one of the events to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the globe…’

    WELCOME to the Philippines!”

    “On Saturday, March 16, 1521, a notable sight appeared in the dawn of the morning. It was a high bluff, some 300 leagues distant from the Thieves’ Islands. The island was named Zamal, now called Samar. Magellan saw another island near. It was inhabited by a friendly people. He determined to land there for the sake of security, as he could there gather sea food and care for the sick. He planted his tents there, and provided the sick with fresh meat. Where was he? Here surely was in a new archipelago which had found no place on a map. March 16, 1521, was to be a notable date of the world.” [Hezekiah Butterworth.

    Chapter XV. The Story of Magellan and The Discovery of the Philippines. New York: D. Appleton And Company, 1899]

    Boy, were you thankful. You are one of the 237 men in five ships who had set sail from the mole of Seville on 10 August 1519, calmed by apparitions of St. Anselme during dark and bad storms, shocked by the human-flesh eaters of Verzin, aggrieved by the death of a comrade at the hands of giants, drank water that was yellow and stinking, endured a deadly encounter with scurvy, saw a cross of five stars, and robbed by natives from a cluster of three islands.

    Who were you? Francisco Albo of Chios, Pilot? Martín de Judicibus of Savona, Master-at-arms? Juan de Arratia of Bilbao, Apprentice Seaman? Your story was told by Anthony Pigapheta, Patrician of Vicenza, and Knight of Rhodes.

    Your saga of deprivation and discovery inspires science fiction writers like Patrick S. Tomlinson whose “Gate Crashers” is about the crew of the American/European Union Starship Magellan: “The year was 2345, and Magellan’s 157 people-cicles were just a sliver over 30 light-years from Earth. As they slept, Magellan was hard at work. She balanced the deuterium flow to the beach-ball-sized star in her stern, which was the source of her power, extrapolated the trajectories of thousands of bits of stellar dust no bigger than a flake of crushed pepper, and then used her battery of navigational lasers to vaporize those flakes on intercept courses.” []
    “Welcome to the Philippines!”

    “Saturday, the 16th of March, 1521, we arrived at daybreak in sight of a high island, 300 leagues distant from the before-mentioned Thieves’ island. This isle is named Zamal. The next day the captain-general wished to land at another uninhabited island near the first, to be in greater security and to take water, also to repose there a few days. He set up there two tents on shore for the sick, and had a sow killed for them.” [The First Voyage Round the World by Antonio Pigafetta, translated by Lord Stanley of Alderley]

    You survived plots and mutinies. Learned to tolerate the taste of sawdust as sustenance in the high seas. Saw sharks and flying fish. And unwittingly left a legacy for scientists:

    “While crossing the Magellan Strait, the explorer and his crew observed two galaxies visible to the naked eye from the southern hemisphere, now known as the Magellanic Clouds.”

    [Agence France-Presse, August 05, 2019;]

    “Welcome to the Philippines!”

    “At dawn on Saturday, March sixteen, 1521, we came upon a high land at a distance of 300 leguas from the islands of Latroni—an island named Zamal [i.e., Samar]. The following day, the captain-general desired to land on another island which was uninhabited and lay to the right of the above-mentioned island, in order to be more secure, and to get water and have some rest. He had two tents set up on the shore for the sick and had a sow killed for them.” [Chronicle of Antonio Pigafetta of Vicenza, Supernumerary of the Magellan Expedition. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898, Volume XXXIII, 1519-1522. Explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the close of the 19th century. Edited and annotated by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson with historical introduction and additional notes by Edward Gaylord Bourne. Cleveland, Ohio: The Arthur H. Clark Company, MCMVI]

    You crossed a great body of water. Five centuries later, that ocean is a marker of the tragedy of the commons: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. “The name ‘Pacific Garbage Patch’ has led many to believe that this area is a large and continuous patch of easily visible marine debris items such as bottles and other litter—akin to a literal island of trash that should be visible with satellite or aerial photographs. This is not the case. While higher concentrations of litter items can be found in this area, much of the debris is actually small pieces of floating plastic that are not immediately evident to the naked eye.”


    You served aboard the flagship “Trinidad” and here’s your flotilla: “The two largest vessels were slightly bigger than Columbus’ Santa Maria, which had the measurement from stem to stern, 78 ½ feet; length of keel, 55 ½ feet; breadth, 26 feet. The largest from these five ships was 120-ton, the second largest was 110-ton caravel, followed by a 90 ton, one of the two smallest vessels was 85-ton, with the smallest registered with 75 ton. These came to be known in the official records as the Armada de Maluco or the Moluccas Fleet.”


    Your descendants now boast of the frigate of the 21st century: “The F110 is a multipurpose battleship that represents a substantial step forward towards the Smart Ship concept. The vessel integrates the best of industry 4.0 technologies, that will improve her construction, operation and life cycle management.” []

    Your successors are back: the training ship ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ on her 93rd Training Cruise, which includes a round-the-world trip as one of the events to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the globe…The ship’s main task is to contribute to the comprehensive training of the current graduation class of 62 midshipmen, future officers of the Spanish Navy.”


    See you in Mactan.


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