Flying Wednesday July 8, 2009.

I am flying the Portugese flag today. On 8 July 1497 Dom Vasco da Gama set sail as commander of a fleet of four ships, the first to sail directly from Europe to India.

Dom Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueiraca. (born either 1460 or 1469, died 1524 in Kochi, India) was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the European Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India.

Vasco da Gama

On 8 July 1497 a fleet under his command, consisting of four ships and a crew of 170 men, left Lisbon. The vessels were:

The São Gabriel, commanded by Vasco da Gama; The São Rafael, whose commander was his brother Paulo da Gama; The caravel Berrio, and a storage ship of unknown name later lost near the Bay of São Brás, along the east coast of Africa.

The fleet arrived in Calicut on 20 May 1498. Negotiations with the local ruler, the Zamorin of Calicut, occasionally took on a violent nature. Efforts by Gama and the Portuguese to obtain favorable trade terms were complicated by resistance from indigenous Arab merchants. Eventually Gama was able to gain an ambiguous letter of concession for trading rights, but he had to depart without giving notice of his intention to do so after the Zamorin insisted that Gama leave all his goods as collateral. Vasco da Gama kept his goods, but left a few Portuguese with orders to start a trading post.

Vasco da Gama lands at Calicut, May 20, 1498.

Pictures of the "Sao Gabriel" (bottom right), "Sao Rafael", and "Berrio" are by Visconde de Juromenha done around 1558 after a painting made on order by D. Jorge Cabral, Governor of India, 1549-50.

Examples of modern caravels, square riggeds and lanteen rigged.

Map of the Portuguese Empire during the reign of John III (1502–1557).