Originally, the fleet’s mission was to sail for the west coast of South America, where they would sell their cargo for silver, and to head for Japan only if the first mission failed. In that case, they were supposed to obtain silver in Japan to buy spices in the Moluccas, before heading back to Europe. The vessels, ships ranging from 75 to 250 tons and crowded with men, were driven to the coast of Guinea, West Africa where the adventurers attacked the island of Annobón for supplies, and then moved on for the Straits of Magellan. Scattered by stress of weather and after several disasters in the South Atlantic, only three ships out of five made it through the Magellan Straits. (The Blijde Boodschap was adrift after being disabled in bad weather and was captured by the Spanish, whereas the Geloof returned to Rotterdam in July 1600 with 36 of the original 109 crew.) During the voyage, Adams had changed ships to the Liefde (originally named Erasmus and adorned by a wooden statue of Erasmus on her stern). The Liefde waited for the other ships at Floreana Island off the Ecuadorean coast. However, only the Hoop had arrived by the spring of 1599 and the captains of both vessels, together with Adams’s brother Thomas and twenty other men, lost their lives in an encounter with the natives. The Trouw later turned up in Tidore (Indonesia) where the crew was eliminated by the Portuguese in January 1601. In fear of the Spaniards, the remaining crews determined to sail across the Pacific. It was late November 1599 when the two ships sailed westwardly for Japan. On their way, the two ships made landfall in “certain islands” (possibly the islands of Hawaii) where eight sailors deserted the ships. Later during the voyage, a typhoon claimed the Hoop with all hands, in late February 1600.
Teind is a Scots and Northern English word for tithe, meaning a tenth part of. In Scotland, a teind was a tithe derived from the produce of the land for the maintenance of the clergy. It is also an old lowland term for a tribute due to be paid by the fairies to the devil every seven years.