The Nasty Nautical Nature of Drakes Bay

... a mariner's nightmare

Real nautical authorities - men who sailed the uncharted or poorly charted waters of Northern California under tall masts, generally held Drakes Bay in low esteem as a safe anchorage. Even though the claim of the Drake Navigators Guild is that the final haven was within so-called Drakes Estero (that name is a modern concoction with even less intrinsic validity than that of Henry Briggs), which is encompassed by the much larger and more open bay, there is little question that the Golden Hind, wherever she was, began her stay by first anchoring offshore for a time. At Drakes Bay this would have been in what is little more than an extremely dangerous open roadstead. Captain George Vancouver, writing in Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, 1790 - 1795 (London, 1798), implied that Drake would not have anchored in Drakes Bay; Captain James Burney, in his Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean (London, 1803)did the same, as did Captain Frederick W. Beechey, in Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific in 1825 - 1828 (London, 1831). Bracketing these genuine authorities, Captain Rodriguez Cermenho of the Spanish galleon San Augustine learned about Drake's Bay the hard way in 1595, only sixteen years after Drake was in the region, losing his ship in the process and, incidentally, finding not the slightest indication among the native people or otherwise that any other European had preceded him, while nearly 400 years later, in 1973, a full-rigged training ship of the German navy nearly came to grief after dropping anchor in the same treacherous place.

Author's Note: Much of this material is adapted from my forthcoming book Francis Drake in Nova Albion - The Mystery Restored, in which these and neighboring thickets are explored much more deeply than on these few web pages. Thus there may be references here not fully explained, or answers missing their questions. Also lacking here is documentation, provided in the book by 782 endnotes. - Oliver Seeler

Nova Albion Research
Copyright 1996 by Oliver Seeler
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