500 Years Of Exploration

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Recreating a fantastic voyage with The Sebastian Elcano

The Elcano sails into Boston Harbor on April 26.

The spring of 2019 will soon see one very special celebration. It will mark the Spanish-led 500 years of exploration from 1519 to 2019 and will include many other nations. Spain’s ship, The Sebastian Elcano, named after Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano, will set sail on its journey to circumnavigate the world, heading south, through the Magellan Straits, into the pacific and on. A two-year journey duplicating Magellan in 1519, when many thought the world was flat. The “School” ship, the “Elcano”will also be used as a scientific platform. The around the world seafaring journey will begin in Boston Harbor when Spain’s training ship will sail into the harbor on Friday, April 26, with many other sailing ships from around the world joining in from April 26 lasting through Sunday the 28.

The Boston celebration will be cohosted by The Explorers Club, an international organization dedicated to scientific expeditions who claim members with records of climbing the highest mountains, diving to the deepest oceans, first in space and first on the moon. Many will be part of the three-day celebration.

Aside from the fireworks over the many ships, visitors will have a chance to visit the Spanish ship and meet the crew, and historic photo/video opportunity.

The history of the first voyage is set at a time in the 16th century, 500 years ago when European countries, particularly Spain and Portugal, were so active in launching expeditions for trade, and colonies in the New World that the Pope divided the Americas between them. Today, South and Central America as well as Mexico are mostly Spanish speaking, with Brazil speaking Portuguese. In the USA, Spanish is the second language. All of this due to explorations and the many ships, which took part, at considerable peril.
Magellan was born in Portugal and moved to Spain. He petitioned the King of Spain, Charles V, only 19 years old, his plan to sail west and find a passage to reach the Spice Islands. Spice was worth more than gold, by weight and was a lucrative trade. The king of Spain funded Magellan’s expedition and after many difficulties, Magellan got as far as the Philippines when he was killed by natives in the battle of Mactan.

With only two out of five ships left, a captain named Sebastian Elcano took charge and sailed the one remaining ship the arduous 10,000 miles until finally reaching Seville, Spain. He arrived with a cargo of spices that paid for the expedition. Today, the expedition is known as the Magellan–Elcano Expedition.

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Fortunately, that journey today is without the fear of sea dragons and falling off a flat earth. But, still the port of calls along the way will raise large crowds with celebrations. The Elcano will collect water samples on a continuing basis in the oceans, seas and ports, which will be taken and analyzed on oceans and ports through the voyage. Scholars and scientists aboard will also be visiting all ports where celebrations will be held under the Spanish and Explorer’s Club Flags.

Stay tuned to Anton’s travel section each month as we track the progress of this historic voyage around the globe.

Robert Hemm is a Fellow member of The Explorers Club and has conducted expeditions around the world—view Hemm’s adventure “Magellan’s Lost Fleet” on YouTube.

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