Hundreds of people go to sea every day, be it for fishing jobs, military conquest, or a plethora of other reasons. However, not all sailors who set out to explore the great blue ocean return. Here are ten sailors who were disturbingly lost at sea.
Related: 10 Shipwrecks That Haven’t Been Explained Yet
10 John Cabot
Giovanni Caboto was an Italian sailor who was born around 1450. However, it wasn’t until around 1495 that he decided to set his sights on becoming an explorer. To help finance the trip, he headed for Spain but was unable to obtain funds from the king. So, after translating his name into English to John Cabot, he traveled to England to gain the support of the British crown.
King Henry VII agreed to finance his voyages, and John Cabot set out on a successful expedition following a more northerly route than Columbus had taken just five years earlier. After 20 days, he came ashore, thinking it was Asia, naming it “New Earth” or Newfoundland. Not finding the treasures that other explorers had uncovered, he did notice the massive amounts of cod. He claimed the land on behalf of the King of England and soon after returned to England.
However, a year later, on his return trip, John Cabot would not be as successful.
Around 1498, he set out on another expedition to further chart a route leading west from Europe to Asia. And that’s the last that was heard from him. After leaving with five ships to support his voyage, no further records were made of John Cabot.
To this day, we still don’t know if John Cabot disappeared while at sea or made it to another continent, but he just didn’t write about it. So, for now, it is believed that he was lost at sea on his latest adventure.
9 Basque of Ataide
Vasco de Ataíde was a Portuguese sailor who, in 1500, accompanied Pedro Cabral on a voyage to India. Although the trip was generally successful, poor Vasco de Ataíde never reached his final destination.
What happened was that Ataíde was captaining one of the ships in Pedro’s fleet. The ship left Cape Verde along the west coast of Africa in late March 1500. However, that was the last seen of them.
Ataíde or the rest of his one hundred and fifty crew members were not seen again. And interestingly, according to the historical records of the time, there were no strong winds or storms that could have caused problems for the ship. To this day, it remains a mystery what happened to Vasco de Ataíde and his crew.
8 Gaspar Royal Court
Gaspar Corte-Real was born in Portugal around 1450 and, like many other young men of his time, had a thirst for adventure and exploration. In 1500, Gaspar began his nautical career, setting out on a voyage to western Portugal on behalf of the king.
Gaspar headed for Greenland but, unable to land safely, was forced to return to Portugal. A year later, he collected enough money and supplies to undertake a second mission on the frozen continent.
Once again he was unable to land in Greenland due to icy terrain and ended up heading further south towards Labrador. There she captured several indigenous people, whom she boarded her ships to take back to Portugal.
Several months later, two of Gaspar’s three ships returned to London. Notably absent, however, was Gaspar himself, who had been aboard the missing third ship. No one knew what had happened to Gaspar or his remaining boat, and to this day, it remains lost at sea.
7 Miguel Corte-Real
If the name Corte-Real sounds familiar, it’s because Miguel Corte-Real was the brother of Gaspar Corte-Real. After his brother did not return home from his Greenland expedition in 1501, Miguel was distraught.
Determined to find his brother and get him back home to safety, Miguel assembled a crew and three ships of his own. In 1502 he left Portugal to look for his brother.
The trip was initially successful and the group came within sight of Gaspar’s landing. Armed with these new clues, the three ships decided to divide and conquer in order to have a better chance of finding Gaspar. The plan was to meet on August 20 to discuss his findings.
However, when the date of the appointment arrived, Miguel’s boat did not appear. No trace remained of what had happened to the second brother Corte-Real, and he was eventually declared lost at sea.
6 Diego de Nicuesa
Not all the imperialist explorers were from Portugal. One Spanish explorer who decided to seek his fortune by venturing to distant lands was a man named Diego de Nicuesa. Backed by the Spanish crown, Diego de Nicuesa set out for Santo Domingo in 1502, the first of many trips to Latin America.
The trip was a success and in the following years he was commissioned several times to head to various parts of Latin America, including Panama and Costa Rica, where he governed the Spanish colonies.
In 1510, however, his luck ran out. Rebellions over hunger and disease were brewing, and Diego de Nicuesa headed out to put down one uprising in particular. However, when he arrived, the settlers were waiting for him. Rather than leave Diego within their city walls, they loaded him and seventeen crew members onto a boat and sent them to Santo Domingo.
However, somewhere in the open sea, the boat disappeared. She never made it to Santo Domingo, and Diego and his crew members were never seen again.
5 Francisco Hoces
Francisco de Hoces was a Spanish soldier who, in 1526, joined the Loaísa Expedition to the Spice Islands. He was destined to command a ship called the San Lesmes, which was one of the other seven ships that were part of the expedition.
At first things went well and the fleet headed for the Pacific Ocean. However, they were soon faced with strong gales. During one of these storms, the San Lesmes, with Francisco de Hoces on board, disappeared.
Although no one knows for sure what happened to de Hoces or why his ship was lost at sea, the ship is believed to have flown as far away as Easter Island or New Zealand. Still, there is little evidence to support this theory, and today, the general consensus is that poor Francisco was lost at sea. Part of the deadly waters he traversed was later called Drake’s Passage or Sea of Hoces.
4 brazilian roche
Roche Braziliano was, unlike many of the more law-abiding sailors on this list, a pirate who began his criminal career in 1654. He is said to have been an incredibly cruel pirate who threatened to take down anyone who didn’t take a drink with him.
However, after quite a successful run, Roche Barziliano’s hacking ways came to a rather abrupt end. You see, in 1671, he and his entire crew just disappeared.
What is even stranger is that there are no records on what could have happened to Roche. So today, there is still a lot of speculation as to whether the ship was wrecked, captured, or suffered some other fate. For now, this sailor is still lost at sea.
3 dirk delange
Dirk de Lange was the captain of a ship called the Ridderschap van Holland. The Ridderschap van Holland was a merchant ship designed to trade in the East Indies. While most of his sailing career was successful, there was one fated voyage, however, that led to the demise of the ship, its captain, and crew.
In 1694, Dirk de Lange, his crew, and his trusted ship set sail for Indonesia on the ship’s fifth voyage. They managed to land at the Cape of Good Hope for a short time before continuing their journey to Indonesia. However, after leaving the cape, the ship was never seen again.
With no trace of the ship or what had happened to it and its crew, Dirk de Lange was declared lost at sea. Today some historians speculate that the crew was captured by pirates. Others suspect that poor Dirk capsized off the coast of Western Australia. Either way, the sailors and their effects have yet to be found.
2 John Coxon
John Coxon was a pirate who dedicated his life to terrorizing the people of Santa Marta, Colombia, in the Caribbean. It is believed that he began operating around 1677 and spent much of his life looting and plundering the area.
At least, he did until around 1688. In 1688, after receiving a pardon from the Jamaican authorities, John Coxon simply disappeared. No one knows what happened to Coxon or his ship, despite years of trying to find clues.
The only clue as to what may have happened to poor John is an account left behind by some of his crew. Crew members mentioned that Coxon’s ship was extremely heavy, so perhaps the captain and his ship sank under the weight.
1 michel de grammont
Michel de Grammont was born around 1645 in Paris and originally began life as a nobleman. However, after killing his sister’s would-be lover, he fell out of favor at court and was forced to change his profession. He chose piracy as his new trade and set sail in 1670 on a ship called the Hardi.
During his conquests, Michel de Grammont toured several Spanish forts, including Trujillo, Gibraltar, La Guaira, Cumaná, Veracruz, and Puerto Cabello.
He made numerous conquests throughout his career, but in 1686, his piracy days came to an end. In April of that year, he set out on a raid with a fellow French pirate named Nicolas Briguat. When Brigaut was captured, he sent word for Grammont to come and rescue him.
However, Grammont’s rescue mission never arrived. It turned out that he had been caught in a storm on the way, and he and his crew were gone forever.
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