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17th century drawing of the Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde Islands

One of the most difficult things about long voyages, I am learning, is that you quickly run out of water. It seems a strange thing to say, as of course we are surrounded by water all the time, but this is not water you can drink: it is too salty. Being a sailor is thirsty work, so it is important that we get enough fresh water to keep the men healthy. This is one of the reasons we have stopped at some islands to the west of Africa, which belong to the Portuguese. We also wanted some fresh meat to eat.

A Portuguese man who lives on the island promised us food and drink yesterday, but this morning we could not find him, so we simply rounded up some fat goats and took them with us. It will be better than all the salted meat we are eating and I hope that I get some, though as the smallest in the ship I do not always get the best things.

Ship's boy

Cape Verde Islands

7 May 1607


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"In the morninge our general sent the pinaces ashoare expecting the portingall accordinge to promyse, but wee could heare no niews of him so wee chased some goats, and having caught about 70 ffor both shipps, about noone wee retourned all aborde."

Red Dragon Journal of Hearne and Finch; cited in Richmond Barbour, The Third Voyage Journals (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), p. 158


A. M. Mallet. 1683: Map of the Cape Verde Islands

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