Mooring at the southern Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522, the Victorias hull was so rotten that it might only stay afloat by continually operating the pumps. 3 years before, the ship had lay out from port within a proud, five-ship flotilla beneath the command of captain-general Ferdinand Magellan. Since that time, of the four other ships, three were lost and something had deserted. Of the 250 men that had formed the flotillas original crew, only 18 returned that September day.
The person who had captained these survivors on the long journey home, however, had not been Magellankilled in the Philippines greater than a year beforebut a Basque seaman named Juan Sebastian Elcano. By steering the frail Victoria over the Indian Ocean and around Africas Cape of Good Hope back again to Spain, Elcano completed the initial known circumnavigation of the planet, a complete journey of 45,000 miles marked by hunger, scurvy, murder, and mutiny.
Elcano didn’t suffer from too little fame in his country on his return. Europes most effective man, Charles V, the king of Spain and Holy Roman emperor, duly praised and rewarded the captain who had so heroically completed the voyage. Nevertheless, outside Spain, Elcanos name has been significantly less known. His feat is frequently popularly related to Magellanand many believe eclipsed by Francis Drakes circumnavigation of the world nearly 60 years later.