- No Winds or Currents to follow
The South Atlantic had neither trade winds nor predictable set of currents that could be followed southward. Instead currents and winds flowed contrary to the southward direction navigators wanted to sail. Folk traditions of nautical star charts or traditional sailors' knowledge were also absent.
- No Continental Shelf to follow
Africa's narrow continental ledge provided no alternative for sailors attempting to sail southward in the face of countervailing winds and currents.