Your Ultimate Boating Resource

When Did Ships First Become Capable Of Sailing The Globe?

The first ships capable of sailing around the world were built in the 16th century. These ships, known as caravels, were designed by the Portuguese and Spanish to explore and trade with distant lands. The caravels were small, fast, and highly maneuverable vessels that could sail against the wind. They were equipped with a variety of sails, including lateen sails which allowed them to sail closer to the wind than other ships of the time.

The first voyage around the world was completed by Ferdinand Magellan in 1519-1522. Magellan set out from Spain with five ships and a crew of 250 men. After sailing through the Atlantic Ocean and around South America, they reached the Pacific Ocean where they encountered storms and hostile natives. After months of difficult sailing, only one ship returned to Spain with 18 survivors onboard.

The next major voyage around the world was completed by Francis Drake in 1577-1580. Drake set out from England with five ships and a crew of 164 men. He sailed through the Atlantic Ocean, around South America, across the Pacific Ocean, and then back across the Indian Ocean before returning home to England. This voyage was much more successful than Magellan’s as Drake returned home with all five ships intact and only two men lost at sea.

Since then, many other voyages have been made around the world by both commercial vessels and naval vessels alike. Today’s modern ships are much larger than their 16th century counterparts but still rely on similar technology such as sails or engines for propulsion. With advances in navigation technology such as GPS systems, modern ships are now able to sail around the globe much faster than ever before while also ensuring greater safety for their crews along the way.

Have something to add or correct? Please let us know by clicking here.
* See disclaimer in the footer of the site for use of this content.

Related Questions


Latest Posts

Don't Miss

Our Newsletter

Get the latest boating tips, fishing resources and featured products in your email from!