National Geographic : 1976 Jun
been in a hurry to sail before the Portuguese caught them as interlopers. The monsoon winds would soon change, and the long voyage that del Cano faced offered a grim prospect. He determined to leave without Trinidad; later she would try to recross the Pacific to Panama, but battered by storms she would turn back and eventually be cap tured by the Portuguese in the Indies and finally wrecked. Neither she nor most of her crew would ever make it home. Victoria's sails had been replaced in the Moluccas, but the tar preservative in the hempen rigging had long since lost its value. Now she had 11,000 miles still to go! And she might be hunted by the Portuguese as an un authorized intruder in their islands. The Pope had granted the Portuguese a monopoly on the Spice Islands trade. Del Cano must avoid them. He had enough men, with 47 left of the original company, plus 13 natives. But heavy losses could be expected. Del Cano was well aware of the usual Por tuguese route homeward: via Malacca, Goa, and southward past Madagascar in the In dian Ocean trade winds, then round the Cape of Good Hope. He went to great lengths to avoid Portuguese ships. Pigafetta relates: "In order to round the Cape of Good Hope we went as far south as forty-two degrees towards the Antarctic Pole. We remained near this Cape for seven weeks with sails furled because of the west and northwest wind on our bow, and in a very great storm.... it is the greatest and most perilous cape in the world. "Some of our men, both sick and healthy, "One of the red ones is valued at a bahar of Cloves... . Still prized-though not so highly as 450 pounds of cloves-a fiery parrot is put on display by his proud owner on Tidore. When Victoria sailed homeward, she car ried two birds of paradise as a gift from a Moluccan sultan to the King of Spain.