A Portuguese Explorer
Bartolomew Dias was sent by Portuguese King John II to explore the coast of Africa and find a way to the Indian Ocean. Dias departed circa August 1487, rounding the southernmost tip of Africa in January, 1488. They named this land Cape of Good Hope. In early January 1488, as Dias' two ships sailed off the coast of South Africa, storms blew them away from the coast. The crew spotted landfall on February 3, 1488, about 300 miles east of present-day Cape of Good Hope. They found a bay they called São Bras and the much warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. On the journey back, Dias observed the southernmost point of Africa, later called Cabo das Agulhas, or Cape of Needles. Dias named the rocky second cape Cabo das Tormentas or Cape of Storms for the tempestuous storms and strong Atlantic-Antarctic currents. In Lisbon, after 15 months at sea and a journey of nearly 16,000 miles, the returning mariners were met by triumphant crowds. The king forced Diasto explain his failure to meet up with Paiva and Covilhã. Despite his achievements, Dias was never put in a position of authority again.