Their holds filled with tons of cloves worth a fortune in Europe, the Trinidad and Victoria were ready to sail by mid December 1521. The month in the Moluccas had been a happy time. The Rajah Almanzor had proven a trustworthy ally, trading fairly and helping the Spaniards however he could. Nonetheless, Captain General Espinosa dealt with the rajah carefully, as he suspected the rajah of having poisoned Magellan’s friend when he served the opposing rajah of Ternate. The politics of the Moluccas were difficult, with rajahs competing with one another, while all the rajahs disliked the Portuguese. Certainly, the Rajah Almanzor saw the Spanish as a counterbalance to the Portuguese.
Francisco Albo and his shipmates must have looked upon the upcoming voyage with mixed feelings. If all went well, and they survived the storms, starvation, and scurvy of the upcoming voyage, they’d be wealthy men once back in Spain, as each were allowed a personal stash of cloves. On the other hand, they intended to sail across the Indian Ocean from the Indies to the tip of Africa, something that had never been done before.
Finally all was ready. The men were rested and their ships well provisioned with even new sails. The monsoon winds were right and they had pilots to guide them as far as Timor. What could go wrong?
The day of departure was a festive occasion with banners flying and all the local rajahs watching from their own ships. Captain Cano of the Victoria ordered the anchor raised and Albo piloted it out of the harbor and waited for the Trinidad…which never came. The Victoria finally returned to its consort.
They found the Trinidad still anchored, but with a slight list. The Trinidad’s anchor had fouled on the bottom. The response had been to pull harder on it to dislodge it. The anchor didn’t move, but the Trinidad’s hull torqued, pulling apart some of its planking. The pumps barely kept up with the water flooding into the Trinidad’s hold that the pumps barely kept at bay. The Rajah Almanzor sent divers below to find the leaks—to no avail. The conclusion was obvious. The Trinidad had to be unloaded and the leaks fixed. That would take time, but time spent in Tidore was like a time spent in paradise. The problem was that the winds would soon turn, delaying departure for Spain across the Indian Ocean for nearly a year! Also, a hostile Portuguese fleet might arrive at any time. It was decided the Victoria would sail on alone and the Trinidad follow later, possibly by an eastward transit of the Pacific Ocean.
And so, the Victoria finally left Tidore on December 21, 1521 with forty-seven Europeans, thirteen Moluccas aboard to fill out the crew, and the letters of their shipmates on the Trinidad—only four of whom would ever see Spain again.