Bartolomeu Dias (c. 1451–1500.05.29) sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, reaching the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic, the first European known to have done so.
Bartolomeu Dias was a Knight of the Portuguese royal court, superintendent of the royal warehouses, and sailing-master of the man-of-war, São Cristóvão. King John II of Portugal appointed Dias, on 10 October 1487, to head an expedition to sail around the southern tip of Africa in the hope of finding a trade route to India. Dias was also charged with searching for the lands ruled by Prester John.
The São Cristóvão was piloted by Pêro de Alenquer. A second caravel, the São Pantaleão, was commanded by João Infante and piloted by Álvaro Martins. Dias’ brother Pêro Dias was the captain of the square-rigged support ship with João de Santiago as pilot.
The expedition sailed south along the west coast of Africa. Extra provisions were picked up on the way at the Portuguese fortress of São Jorge de Mina on the Gold Coast. After having sailed past Angola, Dias reached the Golfo da Conceicão (Walvis Bay) by December.
Continuing south, he discovered first Angra dos Ilheus, being hit, then, by a violent storm.
Thirteen days later, from the open ocean, he searched the coast again to the east, discovering and using the westerlies winds – the ocean gyre, but finding just ocean.
Having rounded the Cape of Good Hope at a considerable distance to the west and southwest, he turned towards the east, and taking advantage of the winds of Antarctica that blow strongly in the South Atlantic, he sailed northeast.
After 30 days without seeing land, he entered what he named Aguada de São Brás (Bay of Saint Blaise, Mossel Bay) on 4 February 1488.
Dias named the Cape Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms). It was renamed Cabo da Boa Esperança (Cape of Good Hope) by King John II of Portugal, because it represented the opening of a route to the East.
Dias returned to Portugal on 15 December 1488.
Dias drowned in 1500, near the “Cape of Storms”, leading four ships that were sunk in a huge storm.