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The Greatest of the sea, but smaller


Carrack "Trinidad"

The Trinidad was the flagship of Ferdinand Magellan's voyage of circumnavigation. Unlike Elcano's Victoria, which returned to Spain, the Trinidad tried and failed to return by way of Mexico. Trinidad was a nao (ship) of 100 tons (or 110 tons, Morrison has both) with square sails on the fore and main masts and a lateen mizzen. Its original crew was 61. After Magellan's death and the burning of the Concepcion, the Victoria and Trinidad reached Tidore on November 8, 1521. In mid-December both ships attempted to depart loaded with cloves, but Trinidad almost immediately began to leak badly. Inspection showed that the problem was serious. It was agreed that the Victoria would leave for Spain and the Trinidad would remain for repairs. On April 6 1522, the Trinidad left Tidore loaded with 50 tons of cloves. Its commander was Gonzalo Gomez de Espinosa, Magellan's alguacil (master-at-arms), a good soldier, but no sailor[1]. After ten days the Trinidad put in at one of the Marianas, where three men deserted, and then headed northeast. Espinosa was apparently trying to reach the Westerlies, but did not find them, probably because of the summer monsoon. He reached 42 or 43 degrees north in increasingly bad weather. Scurvy set in, ultimately killing 30 men and leaving only 20 to sail the ship. Five months after leaving, he turned back and two months later reached the Moluccas. The previous May a fleet of seven Portuguese ships under Antonio de Brito reached Tidore, seeking to arrest Magellan. Espinosa sent Brito a letter begging for supplies. Brito sent an armed party to capture the Trinidad, but, instead of armed resistance, they found only a ship on the verge of sinking and a crew near death. The Trinidad was sailed back to Ternate where its sails and rigging were removed. The ship was caught in a storm and smashed to pieces. Only four of the survivors got back to Europe. Juan Rodriguez escaped in a Portuguese ship. Espinosa, Mafra and Vargue spent two years at hard labor and were then shipped to Lisbon. Hans Bergen, the Norwegian gunner, died in a Portuguese prison. (In Bergreen's book his name is noted as Hans Vargue at the end of the book, and as Hans Bergen in the beginning.) Gines de Mafra, a pilot, was reported in the Philippines in 1542. Espinosa is last heard of as a Spanish inspector of ships in 1543.