June 1, 1520, Patagonia

Magellan’s armada has now been in San Julian harbor on the Patagonian coast for nearly two months. The men are miserable. It’s winter in the southern hemisphere and Magellan’s Mediterranean men are not used to the cold. They are on short rations and constantly hungry. And the worst of winter is still to come.

They don’t have time to think about their misery as Magellan has kept them busy overhauling the ships. First each ship is unloaded, then careened on the beach. This latter is made easier by the huge differential between high and low tide. Finally, planks are replaced, seams caulked, and the holds cleansed with vinegar. The mutineers have it worst, do all the dirty work while in leg shackles.

Food and water have been a disappointment. The only water is brackish and mussels are the only easy find food. The men are sick of mussels. There are some immense flightless birds and goat-like creatures, but they are difficult to hunt. There has been no sign of any local inhabitants.

The first ship overhauled was the small Santiago. Magellan then sent it out of May 1st to seek out a new anchorage with better water and food. It has not been heard from. All fear the worst. The nights are long and spirits low.

Magellan_1810_engraving

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