Juan Fernandez

Spanish Navigator & Explorer

Born: c. 1536

Died: 1604

Fernandez was sailing by the time he was 14 and gained much knowledge from his voyages between Panama, Peru and Chile. He knew how to take advantage of the Trade Winds off of the South American coast and was called Brujo (Spanish for “Wizard”) because of his expertise.

In 1563, he sailed from Callao , Peru, to Valparaiso, Chile, a voyage that was considered to be a remarkable feat for the time period. Fernandez also discovered the Juan Fernandez Islands, west of Valparaiso, Chile, and tried to establish a colony there.

He continued his voyages and discovered the Pacific Islands of San Felix and San Ambrosia in 1574 and is reputed to have discovered Australia or New Zealand (reports made by Fernandez at the time make it difficult to determine which of the two distant land masses he was describing) in 1576.

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