4The Race to Find a Water Route Portugal took the lead in the search to find the first water route to Asia.Portugal decided to spend as much money as was needed to reach the goal.The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the unknown world, and they were the first to sail around the southern tip of Africa.
5Prince HenryPrince Henry established a school for the study of navigation, mapmaking, and shipbuilding in 1420.His goal was to find a route to the rich spice trade of the Indies and to explore the west coast of Africa.
6Designing New ShipsThe ships of the day were too slow and too heavy to make long ocean voyages.Under Prince Henry’s direction, a new and lighter ship was developed, the caravel, which would allow sea captains to sail further and faster.
7CaravelsThe caravel was an improvement on older ships because it could sail very fast and also sail well into the wind.Caravels had 2 or 3 masts with square sails or triangular sails.They were up to about 65 feet long and could carry roughly 130 tons of cargo.
10Green Sea of DarknessAccording to legend, beyond the equator was an area known as the "Green Sea of Darkness," the sun was so close to the Earth that a person’s skin would burn black, the sea boiled, ships caught on fire, and monsters hid waiting to smash the ships and eat the sailors.
11Reaching the EquatorIt took fourteen voyages over a period of 12 years until a ship finally reached the equator.
12Exploring the Coast of Africa During the two-year period from 1444 to 1446, Prince Henry intensified the exploration of Africa, sending between 30 and 40 of his ships on missions.The last voyage sponsored by Prince Henry sailed over 1,500 miles down the African coast.
13A Lasting LegacyAlthough Prince Henry never sailed on the expeditions, the voyages that he paid for in the mid-1400s helped launch Portugal into the front of the race to find a sea route to the Indies.
14Bartholomeu DiasBartholomeu Dias became the first to sail all the way around the southern tip of Africa to the Cape of Good Hope.His ship was battered by fierce storms, his sailors grew hungry, sick, and frightened.Dias wanted to sail to India, but his sailors made him return to Portugal.
16Vasco da GamaAlmost 10 years after Dias reached the tip of Africa, Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to India.He took four ships and 170 men.He sailed back to Portugal with his ship full of spices but only returned with 55 of his sailors.Da Gama finally found a sea route to Asia.