The Adventure of a Lifetime
Juan Sebastian Elcano and Ferdinand Magellan, these are the names that will forever be embedded not only in the history of sailing but also in the history of the entire world.
Arguably, they are known as the first sailors who successfully circumnavigated the world.
Around the 1500s, Elcano and Magellan sailed from Spain in 5 ships, the Trinidad, the San Antonio, the Concepcion, the Santiago and the Victoria.
The Trinidad was helmed by Magellan and the Victoria by Elcano.
Among Elcano and Magellan’s crew were around 200 members. After 3 years of sailing, they finally returned to Spain.
Along the way, they discovered new trade routes, met new civilizations and cultures, established territories and gained glory for themselves and their countries.
The voyage was not with sacrifices though Magellan himself was killed in an island that will later be part of present-day the Philippines.
Out of the 200 crew, only 18 remained along with Elcano. Out of the 5 ships, only the Victoria reached Spanish harbors.
The casualties of the first circumnavigation may have been great but compared to the succeeding attempt, it can truly be considered successful.
The second attempt, under the leadership of Andres de Urdaneta, was a failure when they lost all seven ships.
Urdaneta made amends on his next attempt; on 1536 he was the second successful sailor who circumnavigated the world.
From then on, every century has been met by successful voyages. In the 1600s, around 8 recorded attempts and successes have been made.
In the later parts of the 1700s, the first non-European, Robert Gray, succeeded in sailing around the world.
Fast forward to the 1900s, circumnavigation has been made possible even without the backing of countries and kingdoms.
With advances in sailing technology, sailors are able to sail around the world more than one time.
Electa and Irving Johnson sailed the world 7 times. Crews also became younger; Robin Lee Graham was around 16 years old when he sailed around 1965.
In the 2000s, history again recorded a few world “firsts”. Among these records are the first non-stop circumnavigation, a deaf crew member, the fastest female sailor, the fastest solo voyage, the largest ship, the first solar-powered and the oldest sailor.
These records are not only proofs of the advances in technology that make sailing around the world more possible but also give insight on the diversity of the sailors themselves.
While sailing was once exclusively held by Europeans alone, today people from all races and cultures take part in this adventure.
Before, only adult men were accepted into this elite club of sailing. Today, not only are the sailors getting younger but women too are taking part in the voyage.
The adventure does not discriminate; it welcomes men and women, young and old, Europeans, Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other races and ethnicities.
Even the inexperienced can take part in this adventure.
There is only one type of person that is excluded from sailing, the unprepared.
The adventure gives no room for those who neither have the preparation nor the respect and appreciation for nature and its challenges.
The rich history of circumnavigation shows that in these modern times, sailing is no longer a fantasy that you can only dream but a reality that you can truly achieve. The first step begins with setting your destination.