Around the Bottom of Africa

When they were able to turn back to a northward course and eventually sighted land at Angra de São Brás (Bay of Saint Blaise, since renamed Mossel Bay) or the Bay of Cowherds in early February, the vessels had rounded the Cape of Good Hope without having sighted it. 

As the ships followed the coast eastward, the crews became increasingly restive. By the time they reached Angra da Roca (Algoa Bay), they were unwilling to continue. When Dias called a council of officers in early March, they were unanimously in favour of turning back but agreed to give him another three days. 

That took them as far as Rio do Infante, named after São Pantaleão's pilot (the present-day Great Fish River) where they planted a padrão on 12 March before turning back.

On the return voyage, Dias sighted Africa's southernmost point, Cabo das Agulhas (Cape of Needles) and a second cape he named Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms, later renamed Cabo da Boa Esperança or Cape of Good Hope by João II). 

Back at Angra do Salto, Dias found only three of the nine he had left to guard the supply ship alive after repeated attacks by locals. One of the trio died on the journey home. 

Dias returned to Lisbon in December, after an absence of sixteen months at sea and a journey of more than 25,000 kilometres. 


© Ian Hughes 2017