Do you remember learning about Vasco da Gama in elementary school? As we contemplate rounding the Cape of Good Hope in the near future, we think about those intrepid explorers of the 15th century who were doing all this for first time. The memorial clock along the foreshore in Durban reminded us of Vasco da Gama and his major contribution to world globalism and commerce.
Even with our GPS, chartplotter, Navionics charts on the iPad and weather forecasts, there's still some concern for this upcoming passage. It's hard to imagine just setting out with no idea of what to expect like da Gama did. Heck, they'd only recently figured out that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans were connected and calculating longitude wouldn't come along for another three centuries!
Born c. 1460, Vasco da Gama, a Portugese navigator and explorer during the Age of Exploration, was the first person to sail directly from Europe to India, around the Cape of Good Hope. This was a monumental discovery in that it established a trade route to India known as the Spice Route and it also gave Portugal a leg-up in establishing their colonial stronghold in Asia.
He made a total of three voyages to India, his final voyage as the Viceroy at Cochin, appointed by the King to handle the corruption in the colony. He died there in late December 1524. We thought it fitting to remember him on the anniversary of his death for his contributions to maritime history and his several successful roundings of the Cape.