The Patagonians.

One morning, however, the sailors noticed a giant-sized man on the beach; he danced and sang and sprinkled sand on his head as a sign of friendship. Magalhães sent a sailor ashore to imitate the same tricks and seek to befriend the giant. It was successful and the strange guest was brought to the captain general. It is difficult to say on which side the astonishment was greater. The giant showed astonishment that there could be such small men in such large ships, and seemed to think that they had appeared in it from heaven. The Spaniards thought that the man was so big that he must have been a race of giants. Pigafetta asserts that he was so large that they reached no more than his waist. The morgue was beautiful, the face broad, painted red, a yellow ring around the eyes and two heart-shaped spots on the cheeks. The hair was short and dyed white. The clothes were skillfully knitted from the skins of animals, undoubtedly guanaco. From the skins of the guanaco there were also lumps, which were so clumsy and large that Magalhães began to call this people “Patagonians”, i.e. big-footed.

The man looked very friendly, although he did not give up his weapons, a short stiff bow and reed arrows tipped with black and white stones. He was shown all kinds of objects, including a mirror, but when he saw his image in the mirror, he was startled and jumped backwards so violently that he knocked down the four nearest men. Despite that, he agreed to take a small mirror as a gift, and lots of pearls and beads. after which four armed men rowed him ashore.

There was a comrade waiting on the land, and when things were like this in a good start, soon more natives arrived, with their wives. The women carried all the goods like a load party, and the Portuguese marveled at the greatness of their burdens. They were not as big as the men, but much fatter, and their chests were half the length of a man’s arm. There were small animals, probably tame guanacos, which were tamed on a leash. These animals were used to attract others of their kind within shooting range, it was understood from their antics. The Spaniards set up a guanaco hunt at the port, in order to get a few of these strange deer-like animals.

Collected Patagonian words and phrases; one of them in particular became so familiar that he stayed on the ships for many days. He was taught the Pater noster and the Ave Maria, and he pronounced the words quite well, though with an unusually powerful voice. The priest baptized him and named him Juan Gigante. Juan brought a guanaco to the ships and received many gifts, but when he completely disappeared, it was concluded that he had been murdered.

A whole bunch of information was gathered about the ways of the Patagonians. The sailors wondered very much how they ate ship rats with great gusto, ate with their skins on for days. It was even more surprising that they thrust arrows deep into their throats without suffering any harm. Magalhães decided to take some of these giants with him, to take them as a gift to Charles V. To avoid a fight, a couple of men were captured on the sly. They were both given chains as a gift, but when the men did not understand how to use the gift, they were put on and the locks were hammered shut. Seeing the betrayal, both savages were enraged and called their “great spirit”, Setebo [from which Shakespeare got the name “Storm” for Caliban’s god] to help. The next day, one of the prisoners so earnestly asked to see his wife, that he was taken to the village, accompanied by an armed group, perhaps in the hope that his wife would now also come along; but scarcely had he got near, and the prisoner had got a few words said, when all took to flight. The prisoner’s words therefore contained a warning. A skirmish ensued, in which another Portuguese received a mortal wound from an arrow.

In Europe, for a long time after this, it was thought that the Patagonians really were giants. It was not until the eighteenth century that this fallacy was proven wrong through careful measurements.

After the rebellion, at least no one appeared publicly against Magalhães’ leadership. After the rebellion, the crew was kept in diligent work, as long as they stayed in the winter port, the ships were repaired, the bottoms were cleaned. Those who took part in the rebellion, who were kept in chains for the time being, were allowed to operate the pumps until the leaks were sealed. Later they were freed, because it was not possible to keep men in chains.

Shipwreck of the “Santiago”.

At the end of April, the small »Santiago» was sent on a patrol trip along the coast. Captain Serrão, the brother of the Serrão who stayed in the Moluccas, was a skilled sailor. He proceeded leisurely and carefully, searching along the coast towards the south, and arrived at a river which he named the Rio de Santa Cruz. There were countless seals and birds to be seen, and there were as many fish as you could catch. But when the journey continued from there, we encountered a sudden storm, the rudder broke and “Santiago” drifted ashore. Although the crew was saved, they could not take anything from the ship with them until the waves had broken it into pieces. Thus, 37 men were stranded on a deserted beach in harsh winter weather, without any food or necessities, about 100 kilometers away from other ships. For eight days they stayed near the ray, hoping to save at least a little food, but the wait was futile. At that time, we collected rafts that had drifted ashore, carried them to the river and built a raft to cross it to the other bank. Even though the journey to the river was short, it still took four days before we were there, so exhausted were the men. However, we were even safe from hunger on the river, because there was an abundance of fish in it. Most of the crowd stayed there and only the two strongest men set out on foot to the winter harbor to seek help. For eleven days they stayed on the beach, living on roots, leaves and shells that they found on the seashore. It was often necessary to go around the marshes on the coasts from far inland. At last, starving with exhaustion, they arrived at the winter harbor, where their comrades hardly knew them, to that amount they had worn out on the way. Magalhães sent four-thirds of his men ashore to take help, wine and bread to the shipwrecked. But the journey was difficult even with this, for example due to the lack of water. They had to melt snow to quench their thirst. Fortunately, however, they arrived and the whole group of castaways returned to the winter harbor with them. Later, it was still possible to save most of the stores of the destroyed ship, including the cannons. Serrão was given command of the ship »Concepcion». Later, it was still possible to save most of the stores of the destroyed ship, including the cannons. Serrão was given command of the ship »Concepcion». Later, it was still possible to save most of the stores of the destroyed ship, including the cannons. Serrão was given command of the ship »Concepcion».

Even before the end of winter, in August, Magalhães raised anchor to leave the port, which was associated with such dark memories and where, moreover, he had had to fall on bad terms with the country people. The fleet’s intention was to go to the more southern port found by Serrão, but it was surprised by a sudden storm and almost suffered a shipwreck before it got there. A couple of months were then spent at the mouth of the Santa Cruz River; the time was spent fishing and increasing the ship’s food stores.

The journey continues.

In October, Magalhães decided that the spring had advanced so far that he could leave to continue his journey. When it was assumed that the strait was close, the coast was followed as closely as possible. On October 21st, an opening was seen on the beach that seemed to lead to the bay. The cape was named Cabo de las Virgenes and the bay was a long-sought strait! Its existence had been suspected for a long time, so much so that it was even drawn on some maps prior to this trip. But hardly anyone before Magalhães had gone that far. Probably, the cartographers had assumed that America extended south somehow as far as Africa, and at those stages drew a strait between it and the unknown Southland, the existence of which, relying on Ptolemy’s geography, they were absolutely convinced.

Magalhães himself must have been the first to notice the strait named after him, or at least guess its true nature. He sent »Concepcion» and »S. Antonion” to examine it in advance and went to anchor with “Victoria” himself, to wait for their return. Soon there arose again such a terrible sudden storm, which is so common in those regions, and both ships that had gone out to reconnoitre were nearly shipwrecked. After the storm settled, they entered the first narrow of the strait, sailed through it, came to wider water, finding another narrower point behind it, from which the crews could see the strait ahead as far as the eye could see to the south. Then they came back to report the results of their inquiry. Magalhães had already feared the shipwreck they had suffered. The greater was the joy, when, after five days’ absence, they suddenly appeared in the strait, with full sail and all flags flying, cannon firing and shouting. The waiting crews guessed the message, joined in the jubilation and thanked God and the Holy Virgin. The anchors were quickly raised, and all the ships could at last turn their bows towards the west, guide them to the channel which had been so earnestly sought for, which after so much trouble had been found, — which soon had in its plot to a considerable extent diluted the joy of the discoverers, for even today this strait channel is to sailors in the world the most difficult. The scouts had decided that the strait led to another sea, because it was so deep throughout that in other places the bottom was not found in the first place, because the tides were not the same as they would have been in Lahti, and because, in addition, the water was very salty. Magalhães asked his master’s opinion about continuing the journey. All, »S. With the exception of Antonio’s pilot Gomes, they now wanted to sail forward. Gomes, though a compatriot of the leader, was at loggerheads with him; but admittedly he also gave valid reasons for his opinion. He thought that now that the strait had been found, it would be wiser to return to Spain and come with a larger fleet to continue sailing along the discovered route, because it was not known how long the distance from the strait was to the Moluccas. Magalhães, on the other hand, who perhaps thought that by returning he would lose the fruits of his trip — after all, it was usual to entrust the leadership of a new expedition to someone else — demanded that the journey continue and continue, “even if we had to eat the skin of the sailwood”. Enthusiasm in the fleet was now so general that everyone was on his side. The Moluccas were already thought to be very close, just a short week’s sailing away. If it had been possible to guess what really awaited ahead, and how word for word Magalhães’ exhortation about eating leather would come true, then it is unlikely that anything would have come of continuing the journey.

Strait of Magalhães.

The strait, into which the ships now penetrated, is about 600 kilometers long, full of fjord-like branches and dead ends, tortuous, windy, stormy, although generally clear. Tall dark mountains rise on both sides, some hills a couple of thousand meters high. When the snow line here in the maritime climate close to the Southern Arctic Ocean is very low, there are almost continuous rows of snow hills on both sides with deep inaccessible gorges and glaciers, some of which are like frozen Niagaras, others, ending in slopes, like huge glass walls of jagged black rock cliffs or dark lifeless valleys on. The landscapes are monotonous and absolutely magnificent at the same time. Without knowing what lay ahead, which pass led from many places to the western sea, the task of the first sailors was so difficult, that its execution is still capable of astonishment today. Often, after giving up and fighting for days, they had to return the same way, when the pass finally ended either at a sudden steep rock wall or turned in a completely hopeless direction. In the western parts of the Strait of Magalhães, where the water is almost pitch black due to its depth and the dark shadows of the mountains, an almost continuous storm rages, the sky is always darkly clouded, the air hazy and foggy. Usually, the wind blows from the west and the strait has a strong current in the same direction, but the channels are so narrow that there is hardly any room for maneuvering everywhere. From the bare mountains, storm winds rush into the fjords with violent force and raise the water into short, steep waves, which sailors have come to call “damn waves”.

Whites were often seen at night from the southern shores of the strait, and because of that the land on its side got the name Tulimaa, which it still has today. After having sailed 50 fathoms, we came to a place where channels branched off in many directions; ships had to be sent to investigate each. In the meantime, Magalhães’ own ship fished for food supplies, because there were no more food supplies for three months. »S. Antonio» put in full sail into the fjord running towards the southeast, without waiting for the »Concepcion», which was supposed to make the initial journey together with it. »S. “Antonio” had treachery on his mind — so he returned to Spain. The large boat of the “Trinidad,” which had been sent to examine the strait to the north-west, returned on the third day with the knowledge that it had found the place where the strait turned into the sea. After receiving this good news, Magalhães sent »Victoria» to find »S. Antoniota» and to leave a letter at the pre-arranged rendezvous point announcing the continuation of the fleet’s journey. But »S. Antonio» never came back. The crew, with the support of the pilot Gomes, had revolted against their captain, the Portuguese Mesquita, who was accused of having advised Magalhães to commit cruelty against the mutineers in Juliano Lahti. »S. Antonio», on his return journey, intended to detour into Juliano Bay to rescue Juan de Cartagena and the priest who had been taken ashore with him; but either there was no exception or those left behind were no longer found. Some writer of that time claims that both would have returned in this way, but the information is hardly reliable. At home »S. Antonio’s men spread all kinds of slander about Magalhães, and Mesquita was rewarded for his loyalty by being imprisoned until news of the real cases arrived from the other side of the globe. That’s when he got out of prison and got his share of rewards. Magalhães had thus lost another ship. And apart from his brother-in-law Duarte Barbosa, he no longer had many men he could definitely trust. If he had now called his officers to a meeting, he might have been voted out. That is why he asked for their written opinion as to whether it was wiser to continue the journey or to return. However, he promised to make the decision himself, keeping in mind what the safety of the ship and the king’s interest required. In the answers, at least in others, the lack of food and other equipment was pointed out, but there was no direct opposition to continuing the journey. The next day Magalhães gave the order to raise the anchors. The land on the right was clearly continental, the land on the left was thought to be an island, because across it could be heard the roar of the open sea. We carefully sailed forward through the narrow fjords, ahead of the boats that measured the depth of the channels, anchoring for the night. On the fifth day, we finally reached the mouth of the strait. The cannons fired cheers when the Pacific Ocean opened up to the west at Cabo Deseado. It had taken three weeks to sail the strait, but if you subtract the days that had been expected from this time, the actual sailing time was 12 days. The next day Magalhães gave the order to raise the anchors. The land on the right was clearly continental, the land on the left was thought to be an island, because across it could be heard the roar of the open sea. We carefully sailed forward through the narrow fjords, ahead of the boats that measured the depth of the channels, anchoring for the night. On the fifth day, we finally reached the mouth of the strait. The cannons fired cheers when the Pacific Ocean opened up to the west at Cabo Deseado. It had taken three weeks to sail the strait, but if you subtract the days that had been expected from this time, the actual sailing time was 12 days. The next day Magalhães gave the order to raise the anchors. The land on the right was clearly continental, the land on the left was thought to be an island, because across it could be heard the roar of the open sea. We carefully sailed forward through the narrow fjords, ahead of the boats that measured the depth of the channels, anchoring for the night. On the fifth day, we finally reached the mouth of the strait. The cannons fired cheers when the Pacific Ocean opened up to the west at Cabo Deseado. It had taken three weeks to sail the strait, but if you subtract the days that had been expected from this time, the actual sailing time was 12 days. We carefully sailed forward through the narrow fjords, ahead of the boats that measured the depth of the channels, anchoring for the night. On the fifth day, we finally reached the mouth of the strait. The cannons fired cheers when the Pacific Ocean opened up to the west at Cabo Deseado. It had taken three weeks to sail the strait, but if you subtract the days that had been expected from this time, the actual sailing time was 12 days. We carefully sailed forward through the narrow fjords, ahead of the boats that measured the depth of the channels, anchoring for the night. On the fifth day, we finally reached the mouth of the strait. The cannons fired cheers when the Pacific Ocean opened up to the west at Cabo Deseado. It had taken three weeks to sail the strait, but if you subtract the days that had been expected from this time, the actual sailing time was 12 days.