Prince Henry the Navigator Finding a Water Route to Asia Pgs. 127-129 Marco Polo The Race to Find a Water Route вЂў Portugal took the lead in the search to find the first water route to Asia. вЂў Portugal decided to spend as much money as was needed to reach the goal. вЂў The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the unknown world, and they were the first to sail around the southern tip of Africa. Prince Henry 1394-1460 вЂў Prince Henry established a school for the study of navigation, mapmaking, and shipbuilding in 1420. вЂў His goal was to find a route to the rich spice trade of the Indies and to explore the west coast of Africa. Designing New Ships вЂў The ships of the day were too slow and too heavy to make long ocean voyages. вЂў Under Prince HenryвЂ™s direction, a new and lighter ship was developed, the caravel, which would allow sea captains to sail further and faster. Caravels вЂў The caravel was an improvement on older ships because it could sail very fast and also sail well into the wind. вЂў Caravels had 2 or 3 masts with square sails or triangular sails. вЂў They were up to about 65 feet long and could carry roughly 130 tons of cargo. Green Sea of Darkness вЂў According 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 personвЂ™s skin would burn black, the sea boiled, ships caught on fire, and monsters hid waiting to smash the ships and eat the sailors. Reaching the Equator вЂў It took fourteen voyages over a period of 12 years until a ship finally reached the equator. Exploring the Coast of Africa вЂў 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. вЂў The last voyage sponsored by Prince Henry sailed over 1,500 miles down the African coast. A Lasting Legacy вЂў Although 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. Bartholomeu Dias 1487-1488 вЂў Bartholomeu Dias became the first to sail all the way around the southern tip of Africa to the Cape of Good Hope. вЂў His ship was battered by fierce storms, his sailors grew hungry, sick, and frightened. вЂў Dias wanted to sail to India, but his sailors made him return to Portugal. Vasco da Gama 1497-1499 вЂў Almost 10 years after Dias reached the tip of Africa, Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to India. вЂў He took four ships and 170 men. вЂў He sailed back to Portugal with his ship full of spices but only returned with 55 of his sailors. вЂў Da Gama finally found a sea route to Asia.