Twenty leagues beyond the southern boundary of the great desert, Lancarot came to the mouth of a large river, which had been formerly seen by Denis Fernandez, and named by him Rio Portugues, or the Portuguese river; which was called Ouedech by the natives, and afterwards got the name of Canaga, Zanaga, Sanhaga, Sanaga, or Senega, now the Senegal. Lancarot passed in safety over the bar of this river, and endeavoured to explore its course upwards, but the weather became unfavourable, and forced him again to sea, when he proceeded with part of his squadron to Cape Verd, near which place he took in a supply of water and goats flesh. The fleet was again dispersed by a second storm, and only three vessels remained under the command of Lancarot. With these he made a descent on the island of Tider, where he captured fifty-nine Moors; and with these, and some natives he had made prisoners on the banks of the Senegal, he returned into Portugal.
In the year 1447, Nuna Tristan made another voyage to the coast of Africa; and, advancing beyond Cabo dos Mastos, or the Cape of Masts, so named from some dead palms resembling masts, seen there by Lancarot, who made this discovery in the former voyage, Nuna Tristan proceeded southwards along the coast of Africa, 180 miles beyond Cape Verd, where he reached the mouth of a river which he called Rio Grande, or the Large River, since called Gamber, Gambra, or Gambia. Tristan came to anchor at the mouth of this river, and went in his boat with twenty-two armed men on purpose to explore its course. Having reached to a considerable distance from his ship, he was environed by thirteen almadias or canoes, manned by eighty negroes, who advanced with dreadful yells, and poured in continual vollies of poisoned arrows, by which he, and almost every man in his boat were wounded before they could regain the ship. Nuno Tristan and all the wounded men died speedily of the effects of these poisoned weapons, himself only living long enough to recount the nature of the terrible disaster to the small remainder of the crew who had been left in charge of the caravel; which was brought home by only four survivors, after wandering for two months in the Atlantic, scarcely knowing which way to steer their course.
There appears some difficulty and contradiction in regard to the river discovered by Nuna Tristan, from the vague name of Rio Grande. Instead of the Gambia, in lat. 13 deg. 30’ N. some of the Portuguese historians are inclined to believe that this fatal event took place at another river, in lat. 10 deg. 15’ N. at least 500 nautical miles beyond the Gambia, to the S.S. E. which was afterwards called Rio de Nuno. This is scarcely probable, as no notice whatever is taken of the great archipelago of shoals and islands which extend from Cabo Rosso to beyond the mouth of that river which is still called Rio Grande. Yet it must be acknowledged that our remaining information respecting these early Portuguese voyages of discovery, is unfortunately vague and unsatisfactory.