Travel Pics Theme: P for Pacific. A potted history.

Sun Princess Stern

Sun Princess Stern

It was Ferdinand Magellan who coined the name Pacific (peaceful) for the largest ocean in the world – despite the fact that it can be anything but, at times.

It seems he had just sailed around Cape Horn, at the southern end of South America – and after the storms of the Southern Atlantic ocean, the relatively calm waters of the Pacific seemed peaceful by comparison.

This was on his famed circumnavigation of the globe – although interestingly, he didn’t actually make it all the way around the globe – an honour that is normally given to his navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano.

But here’s an interesting little historical sidelight – it’s quite possible that Magellan’s slave may have been the first to actually travel around the globe, long before Elcano made it back to Spain.

Sometime before 1511, a young slave was brought to Spain from his home near Sumatra – in what is now Indonesia. Magellan acquired him, renamed him Enrique, and took him on his epic journey.

After Magellan’s death in the Philippines, the Spaniard’s crew refused to release the youngster, despite his master’s last will and testament – so Enrique slipped away during a stoush with local natives.

He disappears from history at this point but it seems likely that he island hopped back to his home in Sumatra long before the Spaniards managed to reach theirs 15 months later. Isn’t history a wonderful thing?

But back to the Pacific.

It is big.

Really, really big.

In fact, the surface area of the Pacific Ocean is greater than the surface area of every bit of land on the planet.

It’s been colonized since prehistoric times, and has been the subject of wars, and peace, of strife and serenity.

It stretches from the freezing waters of the poles to the bath-warm waters of the equator, and its weather can range from raging hurricanes to calm, idyllic breezes washing across warm tropical islands.

And to those of us who live on its borders, it is home – where we live, and love, and play.

Which brings us to today’s #travelpic .. the peaceful Pacific receding in our wake, as the Sun Princess cruise ship sails across the briny deep, carrying couples and families recharging their batteries and heading home from their adventures in New Caledonia and Vanuatu.


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