Summary of Vespucci's Third Voyage

Michael Kerney

Kerney translated Vespucci's letters and added his commentary in his Introduction. His “Summary of Vespucci's Third Voyage” (pp. xxx-xxxi) is seen below. Of all the placenames Kerney attributes to Vespucci, only St. Augustine was actually named in Vespucci's letter. Kerney himself may have added the other names, based in part on dates mentioned by Vespucci. Kerney has inserted his dates in the left margin (as seen here), but those dates in italics are not mentioned in either of Vespucci's letters. A few words have been inserted [in brackets] to clarify Kerney's text.

Kerney's 1885 translation is quite similar to Markham's 1894 translation, and perhaps Markham “borrowed” his C. S. Roque footnote from Kerney's “Summary.”

Third Voyage, in the Service of Portugal (three ships, under the command of Dom Nuno Monoel, in one of which Vespucci was Captain).

May 10 or 14.They started from Lisbon, and navigated in sight of the Canaries towards the coast of Africa, landing and stopping eleven days at the port of Besechicce, or Bezenique (Gorée), 14½ degrees north latitude. June 10.They then struck across the Atlantic, south-west quarter by south, and in sixty-seven days, navigating through exceptionally bad weather, they made 700 leagues, and anchored off Cape St. Roque in Brazil on August 17.August 17. They must have seen it and named it on the day before, August 16 being St. Roch's Day. After having lost three men by the treachery of the Indians, they started southwards on the 24th or 25th, and on (the 28th) St. Augustine's Day saw and named the cape which is still called after that saint. Still keeping the land in sight, they went further south, and on November 1.All Saints' Day discovered and named Bahía de todos os Santos; [and] on January 1,January 1. [they reached] the harbour of Rio Janeiro. When they were 32 degrees south latitude (as Vespucci indicates, perhaps by error for 37 or 38), or 38 degrees (as Humboldt calculated), which leaves it uncertain whether they had reached the port of Rio Grande in Uruguay, or Cape Antonio or Cape Corrientes in Buenos Ayres, but in the latter case would imply that they had missed the mouth of La Plata*—it was February 15.February 15. By Vespucci's advice they then started out towards the south-east, into the ocean, and only stopped when, on April 7,April 7. they reached an island beyond 52 degrees of south latitude. This was South Georgia (re-discovered in 1775 by Captain Cook, who believed himself the first discoverer). Frightened by the dreadful storms, the intense cold, and the gloom of the atmosphere, they quickly turned again, and took a north-easterly course, scudding for some days under bare poles before the wind. On May 10May 10. they reached Sierra Leone. Thence, after some delay, they sailed to the Azores, where they also stayed some time, and on August 15August 15. sailed for Lisbon, reaching that port on September 7, 1502.September 7.

* It was perhaps the very northern point of the embouchure of Rio de la Plata, and they may have thought they had reached the end of the continent, misled by the enormous width of the river-mouth, and the sudden recession of the coast westwards.