Journal of Antonio Pigafetta

28th of November, 1520

(In the Milan Edition here begins Book II.)

Wednesday, the twenty-eighth of November, 1520, we came forth out of the said strait, and entered into the Pacific sea, where we remained three months and twenty days without taking in provisions or other refreshments, and we only ate old biscuit reduced to powder, and full of grubs, and stinking from the dirt which the rats had made on it when eating the good biscuit, and we drank water that was yellow and stinking. We also ate the ox hides which were under the main-yard,[93] so that the yard should not break the rigging:[94] they were very hard on account of

First Voyage Round The World Straits.jpg

Pigafetta’s Map of Magellan’s Straits.

the sun, rain, and wind, and we left them for four or five days in the sea, and then we put them a little on the embers, and so ate them; also the sawdust of wood,[95] and rats which cost half-a-crown[96] each, moreover enough of them were not to be got. Besides the above-named evils, this misfortune which I will mention was the worst, it was that the upper and lower gums of most of our men grew so much[97] that they could not eat, and in this way so many suffered, that nineteen died, and the other giant, and an Indian from the county of Verzin. Besides those who died, twenty-five or thirty fell ill of diverse sicknesses, both in the arms and legs, and other places, in such manner that very few remained healthy. However, thanks be to the Lord, I had no sickness. During those three months and twenty days we went in an open sea,[98] while we ran fully four thousand leagues in the Pacific sea. This was well named Pacific, for during this same time we met with no storm, and saw no land except two small uninhabited islands, in which we found only birds and trees. We named them the Unfortunate Islands; they are two hundred leagues apart from one another, and there is no place to anchor, as there is no bottom. There we saw many sharks, which are a kind of large fish which they call Tiburoni. The first isle is in fifteen degrees of austral latitude,[99] and the other island is in nine degrees. With the said wind we ran each day fifty or sixty leagues,[100] or more; now with the wind astern, sometimes on a wind[101] or otherwise. And if our Lord and his Mother had not aided us in giving us good weather to refresh ourselves with provisions and other things, we should all have died of hunger in this very vast sea, and I think that never man will undertake to perform such a voyage.

When we had gone out of this strait, if we had always navigated to the west we should have gone[102]without finding any land except the Cape of the Eleven Thousand Virgins, which is the eastern head of the strait in the ocean sea, with the Cape of Desire at the west in the Pacific sea. These two capes are exactly in fifty-two degrees of latitude of the antarctic pole.

The antarctic pole is not so covered with stars as the arctic, for there are to be seen there many small stars congregated together, which are like to two clouds a little separated from one another, and a little dimmed,[103] in the midst of which are two stars, not very large, nor very brilliant, and they move but little:[104] these two stars are the antarctic pole. Our compass needle still pointed a little to its arctic pole; nevertheless it had not as much power as on its own side and region.[105] Yet when we were in the open sea,[106] the captain-general[107] asked of all the pilots, whilst still going under sail, in what direction they were navigating and pointing the charts. They all replied, by the course he had given, punctually [pricked in]; then he answered, that they were pointing falsely (which was so), and that it was fitting to arrange the needle of navigation, because it did not receive so much force as in its own quarter. When we were in the middle of this open sea we saw a cross of five stars, very bright, straight, in the west, and they are straight one with another.[108]

During this time of two months and twelve days we navigated between west and north-west (maestral), and a quarter west of north-west, and also north-west, until we came to the equinoctial line, which was at [a point] one hundred and twenty-two degrees distant from the line of repartition. This line of delimitation is thirty degrees distant from the meridian,[109] and the meridian[110] is three degrees distant from the Cape Verd towards the east.[111] In going by this course we passed near two very rich islands; one is in twenty degrees latitude in the antarctic pole, and is called Cipanghu; the other, in fifteen degrees of the same pole, is named Sumbdit Pradit. After we had passed the equinoctial line we navigated between west, and north-west and a quarter west, by north-west. Afterwards we made two hundred leagues to westwards, then changed the course to a quarter of south-west, until in thirteen degrees north latitude, in order to approach the land of Cape Gaticara,[112] which cape (under correction of those who have made cosmography), (for they have never seen it), is not placed where they think, but is towards the north, in twelve degrees or thereabouts.