The Disastrous Voyage of the Santa MargaritaThe Santa Margarita was a Manila Galleon and one of the largest sailing vessels in the world. When it left the Philippines for Mexico on 13 July 1600, due to the greed of her commander General Jan Martinez de Guillestigui (said to be a cruel, incompetent and arrogant tyrant), she was badly overloaded, with cargo of gold, gems and other artefacts crammed into every empty space and piled on deck. She also had 300 passengers on board. Thus she  was badly unstable, with the essential ropes obstructed, and only inexperienced crew would join the ship.

Less than 2 weeks after sailing she was badly damaged by a typhoon. After being patched up she continued her journey, but for 5 months she was battered by further storms, destroying food supplies and driving her thousands of miles off course. With the passengers and crew decimated by starvation and scurvy, the survivors decided to turn back.

The ship eventually sank off Rota and of the more than 300 people who had left Manila less than a dozen survived both the voyage and the first week on Rota. This amazing story has been woven into a fictional narrative by Richard Woodman.

The Disastrous Voyage of the Santa Margarita is available in Hardback and Paperback from and

© 2008-2024 David Hayes (Astrodene)