Ferdinand Magellan sets sail to Spice Islands

The fleet left Seville on August 10, 1519, but waited until September 20, 1519 to sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, with a crew of 237 men from several nations, including Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, Greeks and French, on five ships: the Trinidad flagship commanded by Magellan, the San Antonio commanded by Juan de Cartagena, Concepcion commanded by Gaspar de Quesada, Santiago commanded by Juan Serrano and the Victoria, commanded by Luis Mendoza.

On August 10, 1519, five ships under Magellan's command – Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepción, Victoria and Santiago – left Seville and travelled from the Guadalquivir River to Sanlúcar de Barrameda at the mouth of the river, where they remained more than five weeks.
Spanish authorities were wary of Magellan, who was originally Portuguese. They almost prevented the admiral from sailing, and switched his crew from mostly Portuguese men to mostly men of Spain. Nevertheless, Magellan set sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda on September 20 with about 270 men, of which about 40 Portuguese including is brother in law Duarte Barbosa and João Serrão, brother or cousin to Francisco Serrão. King Manuel I ordered a Portuguese naval detachment to pursue Magellan, but Magellan avoided them. After stopping at the Canary Islands, Magellan arrived at Cape Verde, where he set course for Cape St. Augustine in Brazil. On November 27 the expedition crossed the equator; on December 6 the crew sighted South America.

In September of 1519, my crew and I said our prayers and set sail for southern Spain with five ships—the Santiago, the San Antonio, the Conception, the Trinidad, and the Victoria. At first, all went well. Our small fleet sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and reached South America. We stocked up with goods and sailed down the coastline looking for a passage through this great continent. We just couldn’t find a route through South America! We sailed further and further south, sailing into every river and bay we came upon. The weather was getting colder, and we were running out of supplies. The crew revolted against the other captains and me. I had the men who started the mutiny hanged, and then we continued our journey.

Since Magellan was a Portuguese explorer in charge of a Spanish fleet, the early part of the voyage to the west was riddled with problems. Several of the Spanish captains on the ships in the expedition plotted to kill him but their plans were never realized and many of them were held prisoner and/or executed. In addition, Magellan had to avoid Portuguese territory since he was sailing for Spain.
After months of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, the fleet anchored at what is today Rio de Janeiro to restock its supplies on December 13, 1519. From there, they moved down the coast of South America looking for a way into the Pacific. As they sailed farther south however, the weather got worse so the crew anchored in Patagonia (southern South America) to wait out the winter.

As the weather began to ease in the spring, Magellan sent the Santiago on a mission to look for a way through to the Pacific Ocean. In May, the ship was wrecked and the fleet did not move again until August 1520. Then, after months of exploring the area, the remaining four ships found a strait in October and sailed through it. This portion of the journey took 38 days, cost them the San Antonio (because its crew decided to abandon the expedition) and a large amount of supplies. Nevertheless, in the end of November, the remaining three ships exited what Magellan named the Strait of All Saints and sailed into the Pacific Ocean.

Spanish authorities were wary of the Portuguese admiral and almost prevented Magellan from sailing, but on September 20, Magellan set sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with 270 men.

Upon hearing of his departure, King Manuel ordered a naval detachment to pursue him, but Magellan eluded the Portuguese. After a brief stop at the Canary Islands, Magellan arrived at the Cape Verde Islands, where they set course for Cape St. Augustine in Brazil. On November 20, the equator was crossed; on December 6, the crew sighted Brazil.

Since Brazil was Portuguese territory at the time, Magellan avoided it, and on December 13 anchored near present-day Rio de Janeiro, where the weather and the natives were generally friendly. There the fleet was resupplied, but these good conditions caused them to delay. Afterwards, they continued to sail south along South America's east coast, looking for the strait that Magellan believed would lead to the Spice Islands.