The story

The Big Navigations - Sailing Planning


Sailing in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was a very risky task, especially when it came to unknown seas.

The fear generated by the lack of knowledge and imagination of the time was very common. Many believed that the sea could be inhabited by monsters, while others had a view of the land as flat and, therefore, as they sailed to the "end" the caravel could fall into a great abyss.

Within this context, planning the trip was of utmost importance. The Europeans had some navigational instruments, such as the compass, the astrolabe and the crossbow. These last two used the location of the stars as reference points.


astrolabe

It was also necessary to use a fast and resistant means of transport. The caravels fulfilled these goals, although wrecks and accidents occurred. Caravels were capable of carrying large quantities of goods and men. Sailors, soldiers, priests, helpers, doctors and even a scribe took part in a navigation to write down everything that happened during the voyages.


Caravels

Portuguese navigations and the discoveries

In the year 1498, Portugal performs one of the most important navigations: it is the arrival of the caravels, commanded by Vasco da Gama to the Indies. Sailing around the African continent, Vasco da Gama arrived in Calicute and was able to enjoy all the benefits of direct trade with the East. Upon returning to Portugal, the spice-laden Portuguese caravels yielded fabulous profits to the Lusitanians.

Another important achievement was the arrival of the Cabral caravels on the Brazilian coast in April 1500. After making a reconnaissance of the "discovered" land, Cabral continued his journey towards the Indies.
Due to these events, Portugal became the main economic power of the time.


Vasco da Gama painting on arrival in India, bearing the flag used in the Discoveries: The arms of Portugal and the cross of Christ, sponsors of the expansion movement initiated by Infante D. Henrique. (link to attachment Vasco da Gama)