For a project, I must re-create a journal of a [made up] 16th century explorer. They were a sailor who sailed to the Pacific Ocean via the Cape Horn route in the 16th century, similar to Willem Schouten. What sorts of things might they document in their journal? The weather? Their food stores? Their route?
Why not read Willem Schouten's own journal translated into English?
THE RELATION OF a Wonderfull Voiage made by WILLIAM CORNELISON SCHOVTEN of Horne.
Shewing how South from the Straights of Magelan, in Terra Del-fuogo: he found and discouered a newe passage through the great South Sea, and that way sayled round about the world.
Describing what Islands, Countries, People, and strange Aduentures he found in his saide Passage.
a north north east wind and faire whether, and the 29. the Maister and Marc••nt of the Horne came abord the Vni∣tie to agree together about order to be taken vpon the 4. of Iuly, for sharing of our victuales, according to the man∣ner and custome vsed in shippes that sayle long voiages, where they deliuer the saylers their meate and drinke by waight, and measure, to euery man alike and according to his qualitie.
The 4. of Iuly, according to the aforesaid resolution, it was ordred that euery man should haue a can of beere a day, 4. pound of bisket, and halfe a pound of butter (be∣sides sweete suet) a weeke, and fiue cheeses for the whole voiage.
The 8. being vnder 39. degrees and 25. minutes right against the Bassels, our carpenters Mate dyed.
The 9. and 10. with a north and north east winde and a stife gale, the 11. we had a sight of Porto Santo and Ma∣dera, and held our course east.
The 3. in the afternoone, the Horne being made cleane vvas lancht into the water againe, and our master went out to fish, in the euening bringing a great shole of fish with him, in fashion like to a shoemakers cutting knife, and euery man 150 Limonds for his part.
The 220.127.116.11. and 16. our men went continually on land to seeke for water, but found none, euery day bringing good store of birdes and fishes on boord.
There we saw extreame great Sea-Mewes, bigger of bo∣dy then Swannes, their winges being spread abroad, were each of them aboue a fathom long. These birds be∣ing vnaccustomed to see men, came to our ship, and sat thereon, and let our men take and kill them.
And so on. Wind, weather, food, position, hunting, going ashore, people dying...
If you can read German or Latin, you can even read Willem Schouten's originals at archive.org.
More journals and writings of 16th century explorers are available translated into English.
- Extracts From The Journal of Christopher Columbus
- Letter of Amerigo Vespucci To Pier Soderini, Gonfalonier of the Republic of Florence
- The Discovery of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh
- The Memoirs Of The Conquistador Bernal Diaz Del Castillo Written By Himself Containing A True and Full Account Of The Discovery And Conquest Of Mexico and New Spain
It depends on the explorer. Exploration was done by very different people, and for most of them, exploration was not the principal goal. Some were traders, others pirates. Many expeditions had a military character.
Most ship captains would routinely record daily the state of the weather, the state of the sea and air, the course of the ship, especially all changes in weather and course, astronomical observations whenever any were made, and all events they thought worth mentioning. They would describe the shore/islands/people if they thought that new places had been discovered. Some journals of Columbus, Barentsz and others are available, you may check.