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Land Ahoy!


Land Ahoy!
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 4
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.49

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    nutmeg, scurvy, seaman, vitamin, entire, cabin, navigator, especially, rail, outfit, rushed, onto, journey, exotic, nearly, discover
     content words:    Captain General Ferdinand Magellan, King Charles, Spice Islands, If Magellan, On September, Captain General Magellan, Pacific Ocean, United States


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Land Ahoy!
By Lota Smith Bryans
  

1     I am a cabin boy who was hired in Spain by the great Portuguese sailor and navigator, Captain General Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan convinced my king, King Charles I, to fund the expedition to find a westward route to try to discover several Spice Islands. If Magellan could reach the Moluccas, islands where nutmeg and cloves and other spices were grown, from the west, Spain's wealth would surpass all other countries. On September 20, 1519, Magellan started his great journey to the Moluccas from Spain with five ships. King Charles I agreed to outfit his fleet of five ships to accomplish this incredible mission. He wanted to be the first to circumnavigate or sail around the globe. I was so excited to be on such an exciting voyage. I was very scared, but my sense of adventure overcame my fear as we set sail that day in late September. I was hired to be on the Trinidad, with Captain General Magellan
 
2     It was a long, very difficult journey. I will not try to tell you all about the entire journey, but, sadly, only three of our ships were left as we saw the sun begin to rise on the morning of March 6, 1521. We were so very tired and nearly starved when a bluish bump slowly began to appear on the horizon. The seaman in the crow's nest nearly sixty feet above the water level raised a cry that I will never forget as long as I live, "Land ahoy! Land ahoy!" We did not know it then, but we were sailing toward the island of Guam. We all rushed to the starboard rail still not believing the wonderful news. We were so hungry and thirsty and were laughing through swollen and cracked gums because we had developed a condition called scurvy, which many sailors suffered from in those days because we did not have enough vitamin C in our diets. We had not had fresh fruit and vegetables for many months.
 
3     As we watched, we saw many small sails gliding swiftly toward us. They were amazing little canoes that looked like dolphins jumping from wave to wave. They were later given the name flying proas! The large, bronzed-skinned men were much taller than the sailors on the ship and were called Chamorros. They were very curious and excited as they climbed up over the side of the ship. They had never seen some of the Spanish goods we had on board, and we were able to trade these, especially anything made of iron, for the most delicious fresh spring water, bananas, coconuts, and taro, which tasted something like yams, breadfruit, and other exotic foods. It was a day I shall never forget. We were the first Europeans to step onto an inhabited island in the vast Pacific Ocean. The beautiful island of Guam later became a United States unincorporated territory.

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