Spanish Ship Sails to the Philippines As it Retraces Magellan and Elcano's Route

The ship will dock in Guiuan, Homonhon, Cebu, and Suluan.

A Spanish ship powered by the wind will sail to the Philippines as it retraces the circumnavigation route of Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastian Elcano. Currently, it is docked in Guam, where Magellan stopped in March 1521, a month before his death. The Elcano will sail to the Philippines just in time for the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s Mactan landing. 

The ship is named Juan Sebastian Elcano, after the famous explorer who completed Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world. The Elcano itself is a historic ship, having been built in 1928. It is a four-masted brig-schooner that measures 113 meters long. It was received at Naval Base Guam on Friday.

The Juan Sebastian Elcano Ship

Photo by Dawid K Photography | Shutterstock.

Photo by Dawid K Photography | Shutterstock.

Photo by Dawid K Photography | Shutterstock.

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Photo by David Acosta Allely | Shutterstock.
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Spanish Sailors Aboard the Elcano Ship

Photo by Dawid K Photography / Shutterstock.

Photo by Dawid K Photography / Shutterstock.

According to the Spanish Embassy in Manila, the Elcano will dock in the town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar on March 16, where Magellan’s ship also stopped 500 years ago. It will also make port calls in Suluan and Homonhon through March 18. Finally, it will dock in Cebu and stay there for a goodwill visit from March 20 to 22. 

Guian, Suluan, Homonhon, and Cebu represent the first visual contacts made by Spain with the Philippines, which is a significant part of this expedition. 

The Spanish Embassy in Manila compared the circumnavigation to today’s most praised scientific discoveries. 

Photo by Dimitrios Karamitros | Shutterstock.

“The journey was a historical leap forward and a technical challenge for that time. Initially, five ships and 238 men departed Spain as part of the expedition and only 18 men and one ship made it back three years later,” the Embassy said in a statement. 

After its Philippine stops, the Elcano will sail westward and retrace Spain’s circumnavigation voyage from the Philippines to the Moluccas, around Africa, and back to Europe. 

The reenactment of the voyage is being kept as faithful as possible to the original routes taken by Magellan and Elcano. The crew will likely experience similar weather patterns documented by the crew and the expedition’s chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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