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Thread: Manila galleons

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  1. #1

    Sep 2005

    Manila galleons

    i was hearing stroies about manila galleons that sunk off catalina isand that were loaded with treasure. Can anyone give me any infromation realting to this topic.

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  3. #2

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons

    You will find a small amount of info on your galleon below and alot more intersting stuff there too

    The Manila Galleons

    by Steve Singer

    The Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, had reached the Philippines from Europe in 1521 during his circumnavigation of the world, though the Philippines were already a well known trading center with the merchants and sailors of the Far East. The Spanish were the first Europeans to attempt to colonize the Philippines.

    Though the Spanish had reached the Philippines from Mexico prior to 1564, they could never find a return route back eastward. It was a small fleet of four ships, under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who finally found a route in 1565. Don Luis de Velasco sent this expedition under the direction of Phillip II. and accompanying this fleet was Andres de Urdaneta, who had previously sailed with Loaysa to those seas in 1525. This fleet left Mexico on November 21, 1564 t begin the 9,000 nautical mile trek to the Philippines. They sighted the island of Samar on February 13, 1565 and anchored off the island of Cebu on April 27, 1565. The fleet split up, and some went south as far as New Guinea looking for a route back. Urdaneta believed the route back would be found to the north. The San Lucas of only 40 tons, went far to the north near Japan, where she found the westerly trade winds and favorable currents, which bore her back to the California coast near Cape Mendocino, which she then followed south, arriving back at Acapulco, October of 1565. Oddly enough, it was the San pablo of the same fleet, which followed the San Lucas shortly thereafter, which received the credit for discovering this route back. One source says that one of the galleons had deserted (probably the San Lucas) and discovered the route back arriving in Acapulco in July of 1565. It also states that Urdaneta (on another vessel) went as far north as 38 degrees off Japan and then headed on a southerly course in which no land was encountered and most of the crew had died before reaching Acapulco.

    Thus started the trading route of the Manila galleon or "nao de la China", which meant "the ship of China." Legazpi's own ship, the San Pablo of 300 tons, was the first Manila galleon to wreck in 1568, en route back to Mexico. Over the years, over forty Manila galleons were lost, many carrying some of the richest cargoes ever transported on the high seas. Many others were captured or destroyed by vessels of Spain's enemies, such as the British and Dutch. A few vessels sailed from Manila directly to Spain rounding the cape of Good Hope, but these voyages were soon stopped by their enemy the Dutch, who controlled this sea route.

    Legazpi became the first Royal Governor of the Philippines. King Philip II of Spain, who the Philippines are named after, gave explicit orders to Legazpi to bring the Philippines under Spanish control without bloodshed. Unlike the cruelty inflicted on the native populations of the New World by Pizzaro and Cortes, Legazpi treated most of the natives of the Philippines with respect, and soon the majority of natives accepted the Spanish, who took control of most the island, and also converted most of the population to Christianity. The only resistance came from the Muslims in the south, which continued into the nineteenth century, and from the Igorat, the upland tribal people in the north. Also, two attacks by the Portuguese in 1568 and 1571 were repulsed by the Spanish. Cebu was made the headquarters of the Spanish until 1571, when Legazpi defeated a local Muslim ruler and made Manila the new Spanish capital. Manila had an excellent natural harbor, a large population, and an ample food supply from the central Luzon rice fields.

    Though the Philippines provided some products, it was spices and other items from the "Spice Islands", and silk, porcelain, gold, ivory, gemstones, jade, mercury, and other valuables from China which made the Manila galleon trade so lucrative. In 1571, the crew of a Chinese vessel which had wrecked in the Philippines, was rescued by the Spanish, and the next year a Chinese vessel arrived in Manila carrying trade goods in gratitude thus starting a direct trade route with China. Goods from India and elsewhere in Southeast Asia also made their way to Manila. Some trading was also done with Japan, though Japan closed herself off from the West in 1638, though some small amount of trading continued with the Dutch. Europe and the New World's appetite for these products from the Far East became insatiable, and the huge profit margin made the perilous journey worthwhile. There was a great demand in China for silver from the mines of the New World, and the westbound Manila Galleons were loaded with this silver. Coinage from the New World was also used by the Chinese for their own monetary system.

    The voyage from Acapulco to the Philippines was a relatively easy one. By 1570, Acapulco became the trading port of the Manila galleons in the Americas, due to its excellent harbor, and overland accessibility to Vera Cruz on the Caribbean side of Mexico. Many treasure laden vessels brought silver from the New World mines such as the one at Potosi, Peru (now part of Bolivia), to Acapulco, and some of these vessels were also lost on the west casts of South and Central America. Leaving from Acapulco , in January, the Manila galleons would sail the usually calm seas to the Marianas using the favorable trade winds, and then on to the Philippines, which took a total of about three months time, though some of these Philippine bound vessels did wreck due to storms or other mishap, Until 1593, three or more ships would sail each year from both ports. Because the Manila trade was becoming so lucrative, Spanish merchants back home complained of lost profits and a law was passed in 1593 allowing only two ships to sail each year from either port, with one in reserve in both Acapulco and Manila. Even the tonnage of the vessels and their cargo was restricted under this new law, but these restrictions were largely ignored and were not enforced. These ships wee the largest the Spanish built. In the 16th century, they averaged from 1,700 to 2,000 tons and seven hundred to over one thousand people would take passage back to Acapulco on these vessels. Though th Spanish tried to send two ships each year after 1593, many years saw only one ship making the voyage back to Acapulco, which became known as one of the longest and most dangerous voyages that one could make. Though ideally it could take four months to reach Acapulco, seven months or more was more often the case. Often a great number of people would die during these voyages from disease or malnutrition, sometimes numbering over half the people on board. One example of the perilous voyage was that of the Manila galleon San Jose, which was found drifting off the Mexican coast during the mid 17th century, over a year after she left Manila. Not one person was left alive, all having died from disease or starvation. Another example is that of the Santa Margarita. She left Manila in 1600, and battled the elements for eight months, until she wrecked on Carpana Island in the Marianas, with few survivors.

    After leaving the port of Cavite on Manila Bay, usually in July, a Manila Galleon would have to thread its way through the many islands and reefs toward the northern Marianas, which could take weeks. Many a galleon was lost on these reefs. They would then head to the northern latitudes near Japan and hope favorable winds and currents would take them eastward. With no landfall for the next three, four, or more months, life on board could become unbearable. Eventually they would come into site of Cape Mendocino or nearby, off the northern California coast, and follow this coastline south to Acapulco. A number of these Manila Galleons were also lost along this coastline.

    Once at Acapulco, goods were traded among merchants from all over the New World, and most of the goods ended up being transported overland to Vera Cruz, where they would then be loaded onto ships of the Nueva Espana Fleet, which in turn headed to Havana, and then back to Spain. Many of these vessels also wrecked, and much of these Far East treasures have been salvaged from these shipwrecks. The 1715 and 1733 Plate Fleet wrecks off Florida have yielded many artifacts from the Orient, such as porcelain and jewelry. A Spanish wreck found in the western hemisphere with cargo from the Far East would most surely have to have wrecked after 1565, though goods from China didn't start to arrive in Acapulco until 1573.

    Ming and Ching dynasty porcelain carried by Spanish vessels from the Philippines, and then the New World, are a very good tool in helping date a shipwreck, since these fine objects have been studied in great detail and are easily dateable. Most of the Manila galleons were eventually built in the Philippines at the Cavite shipyards and also at palantiau, and though they used the European design, they were sturdier, being built from the abundance of hardwoods available there, such as teak and mahogany. The Planking was built of lanang wood, which was so strong, it repelled cannon ball shot. This material could also help to identify a Manila galleon wreck. Manila hemp soon became known as some of the best rigging material available, and became another sought after commodity.

    The ship Magallanes left manila in 1811, and returned four years later, thus ending the last voyage of a Manila galleon. A number of reasons accounted for the Spanish decline there and elsewhere. Competition with other countries in the china trade, and trouble back at home, eventually led to the end of Spain's dominance in the China trade.

    The Manila galleon wrecks are some of the richest in the world today. It should also be noted that along with any registered treasure carried by these ships, almost as much was being smuggled on a regular basis. Only a few have been found so far. These are:

    The Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion - From Manila bound for Acapulco, she wrecked on the southwest tip of the island of Saipan, Sept. 20, 1638. She was the largest Spanish vessel built up to this time, displacing about 2,000 tons. William Mathers, an American, located the wreck in 1987, and has since salvaged many priceless treasures from the site. The site is now overlooked by a golf course, and Ming dynasty porcelain shards are scattered along the coastline, which helped to pinpoint the wreck.

    Nuestra Senora del Pilar - Wrecked in 1690 on the southwest tip of Guam. This wreck has also been located within the last few years and has been actively worked by divers.

    San Agustin - World renown archaeologist/treasure hunter, Robert Marx, has located the wreck of the San Agustin, which was one of a fleet of four galleons from Manila bound for Acapulco, which wrecked in Drake's Bay north of San Francisco, in 1690, and now lies in part of the Point Reyes National Seashore Park. I've read of his attempts to get permission to do some excavation on the site, but legal restrictions have so far prevented any attempt.

    San Diego - This wreck was discovered in Manila Bay in 1991. It is presently being excavated by divers, and has yielded over 28,000 items to date. I've also heard of other Manila galleons having been discovered in the Philippines by local fishermen and divers, though I'm not sure if any of these are being actively worked under a government lease.

    A number of undiscovered wrecks also lie off the California and Mexican coast.

    Santa Marta - Ran aground on Santa Catalina Island in 1528. Crew and some cargo was saved. Unknown if further salvage was attempted.

    Nuestra Senora de Ayuda - 320 tons, wrecked on a rock, west of Catalina Island in 1641. Some crew survived, but cargo was lost.

    San Sebastian - attacked by English pirate George Compton, Jan. 7, 1754, she was run aground just west of Santa Catalina Island, and soon sunk in about 170' of water.

    A number of other areas along Oregon and California have yielded artifacts from the Far East, and could belong to a wrecked Manila galleon.

    Santa Maria de los Valles - 1,500 tons, left Manila in 1668 with 778 people and a very valuable cargo. After much hardship, she arrived at Acapulco two days before Christmas, and dropped anchor. Two hours later she caught fire and sank within an hour, taking with her all the treasure valued at over 3,000,000 pesos and more than 330 people.

    The majority of Manila galleons sank in the Philippines and surrounding areas, including China and Japan. I'll mention a few of these.

    San Martin - Patache, wrecked off the coast of China near Canton in 1578, with much silver on board. Two more vessels were also lost near Canton in 1598.

    San Francisco - Wrecked off eastern Kyushu, Japan, in 1608, with a large amount of gold and silver.

    Santissima Trinidad - Left Manila in 1616 with a cargo valued at over 3,000,000 pesos. A typhoon hit and she wrecked on Cape Satano, at the southern end of Japan.

    Jesus Maria and the Santa Ana - Both these vessels sank in the San Bernardino Straight with over 2,000,000 silver pesos, after doing battle with a superior Dutch fleet, which ambushed them there in 1620.

    San Ambrosio and another ship - Coming from Acapulco, both vessels were lost during a typhoon on the coast of Cagayan in 1639, along with 2,000,000 silver pesos.

    Santo Cristo de Burgos - She grounded offshore of Ticao Island, Philippines, in 1726. Crew was saved, but the ship and very valuable cargo were lost due to fire. Another vessel, the San Andres, wrecked on Naranjos shoals near Ticao, October 1797, and part of her valuable cargo was lost.

    Santa Maria Madalena - Crammed with so much cargo as to make her unsafe, she left Cavite in 1734, and capsized and sank within a few hundred yards of her anchorage.

    These are just a few of the many ships which wrecked on the perilous Manila galleon route. As time goes on, and technology improves, many more of these galleons will be found.

    Source: 1. Bunge, Frederica M. (Editor). Philippines a country study. Washington D.C. : Dept. of the Army, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1983. 2. Lyon, Eugene. National Geographic Magazine, September 1990, pages 5-37, "Track of the Manila Galleons". 3. Mathers, William M. Ibid, pages 39-52, "Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion". 4 Marx, Robert. Shipwrecks in Mexican Waters. Deportes Acuaticos de Mexico, Juarez, Mexico, 1971. 5. Marx, Robert. Skin Diver Magazine, March 1993, pages 49 and 166, "Ten Richest Wrecks in Latin America". 6. Marx, Robert. Ibid, April 1992, page 44, "The 10 Richest Undiscovered Wrecks". 7. Potter, John S. The Treasure Diver's Guide. Port Salerno: Florida Classics Library, 1988. 8. Treasure Quest Magazine. Vol. IV-4, Fall 1993, page 15. 9. Winsor, Justin (Editor), Narrative and Critical History of America, Vol. II, Discoveries of the Pacific Coast of North America. Cambridge, Mass.: Haughton, Mifflin and Co., 1886

  4. #3

    Apr 2005
    2 times

    Re: Manila galleons

    Were there two ships of the same name, San Agustin, wrecked in Drakes Bay at different times? Cermeno wrecked there in 1595, but he and some of his crew managed to build a smaller ships from the timbers of the wreck and got back to Mexico.

    I had not heard about another ship called the San Agustin wrecking there in 1690, but from your remarks about all hands going down with the wreck you located, Cornelius, it sounds as if that was a totally different wreck from Cermeno's ship. I always assumed that the ship Marx claimed to have found was that of Cermeno, which was not really a Manila Galleon, but a ship that sailed fromManila looking for a harbor on the California coast where the manila Galleons could rest for a while after the gruelling journey across the Pacific. My understanding was that Cermeno did carry some goods in order to help finance the trip, but it was not one of the annual treasure ships.

    If there were two wrecks, one in 1595 and the other in 1690, does anybody know if any of the Chinese porcelains that have been found in Drakes Bay associated with the later wreck, and did the later ship also wreck in the area of the so-called Drake's Estero?

    I would like to take the opportunity of echoing Cornelius' comments about your contributions, Cablava, and as ever to acknowledge yours, Cornelius.

    Incidentally, I understand that evidence of a possible Manila Galleon has recently been found on the coast of Baja California, in the region of Cedros Island, but that attempts to find the actual wreck have not yet been successful. This wreck was first reported by a Jesuit priest called Father Consag in the 17th/18th century several centuries ago, and he reported then that the timbers crumbled as soon as they were touched, so perhaps the actual wreck will never be found.


  5. #4

    Apr 2005
    2 times

    Re: Manila galleons


    Thanks for the clarification. The story is as I thought it. So is the statement by Steve Singer, as supplied by Cablava, that a Manila Galleon ship called the San Agustin wrecked in Drake's Bay in 1690 just incorrect, I wonder? And if so, what of the Santa Marta, which he states as wrecking on Santa Catalina in 1528, which was pertinent to the original note in this thread? There is a big problemin relying on second hand research, no matter how good the reputation of the person presenting information. There is no substitute for going back to the original source wherever possible.

    Vizcaino was told about an earlier shipwreck when he stopped at Catalina Island in 1602, and I have tried in the past to identify what this wreck might have been. I do not recall identifying the Santa Marta as a possibility, but I will have another look at it.

    Incidentally,Drake did not careen his ship at Drakes Bay, nor anywhere else on the California coast. Twenty five years ago, I identified his true anchorage as Whale Cove, a small harbor just north of Cape Foulweather on the Oregon coast. The official account of Drake's voyage places his anchorage at 38 degrees, near San Francisco, but it is easy to demonstrate that this official account was falsified fin several places for political reasons. The only two detailed hand-written accounts of the voyage, both preserved in the British Library, both give the anchorage location as 44 degrees, which is the mid-Oregon coast, and the only two detailed representations of the harbor let it be identified as Whale Cove. Sorry for this diversion. I suspect most people are tired of the debate about Drake's movements, even though some of us find them of great interest.


  6. #5

    Apr 2005
    2 times

    Re: Manila galleons


    I did not suggest that Vizcaino knew the name of the ship that had wrecked on Santa Catalina. As you say,how could he? Also, I do do not recall that Vizcaino saw the wreck of the San Agustin at Drake's Bay, though he did have people with him who recognized the place as being where Cermeno's ship had wrecked. I will have to re-read Vizcaino's account.


  7. #6
    Nov 2004
    849 times

    Re: Manila galleons

    Quote Originally Posted by Cornelius
    Drakes stopover place is untill now still an enigma . Nobody knows for sure . That does not mean that ALBION is not Drakes Bay . And it does not mean that it is !?Cornelius
    HOLA MY FRIEND CORNELIUS: ? For general interest, I have a ?replica ?of the brass plate that ?Drake supposedly left at Drakes bay.
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? BEE IT KNOWNE UNTO ? ?ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS

    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?JUNE 17 1579

    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND IN THE NAME OF HERR
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? MAJESTY QUEEN ELZABETH OF ENGLAND AND HERR
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? SUCCESSORS FOREVER. I TAKE POSSESSION OF THIS
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?KINGDOME WHOSE KING AND PEOPLE FREELY RESIGNE
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?THEIR RIGHT AND TITLE IN THE WHOLE LAND UNTO HERR
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?MAJESTIES KEEPING. NOW NAMED BY ME AN TO BEE
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? KNOWNE UNTO ALL MEN AS NOVA ALBION.

    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?FRANCIS DRAKE

    jJose de La Mancha ?( I tilt windmills )

    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
    "I exist to live, not live to exist"

  8. #7

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons

    This is of interest in this thread I think



    Though their eastern course lay off its coast for so long, the Manila Galleon contributed less to a knowledge of the Californias than might have been expected. The apparent paucity of these geographical results can be attributed to several causes. In the first place, it was only during the earlier period of the navigation that the customary route of the galleons lay near enough to the upper California coast to make any discoveries possible. For, by the eighteenth century they generally made their landfall well down the coast, somewhere between Point Concepcion and Cape San Lucas. Even when they did follow the upper coast, they kept no nearer to it than was necessary to guide their course,?that is, to make out the more prominent landmarks. Moreover, after the long and perilous crossing from the Philippines pilots and captains were averse to taking the further risks involved in a close investigation of a rather rugged and forbidding coast. Commenting on this anxiety to keep clear of the coast, Diego de Bobadilla wrote in 1640: ?The captain changed his course to the south, to avoid getting caught in the land, or in some gulf, whence he would have a hard time to get out.? 1 Anson also said: ?As there are many islands and some shoals adjacent to California, the extreme caution of the Spanish navigators makes them very apprehensive of being engaged with the land.? 2 A further deterrent was the dense pall of fog that so often hung over the land, concealing reefs and headlands, and which has accounted for so many lost ships in our own time. The wrecking of the San Agust?n near Point Reyes, and the narrow escape of the Esp?ritu Santo and the Jesus Mar?a from destruction near Cape Mendocino were effective reminders of the perils of the upper coast. 3

    The most serious lacuna in the exploration of the coast between Mendocino and San Lucas,?the failure to discover San Francisco Bay,?was doubtless due in part to the fog curtain which so often obscures the mouth of the bay. However, a more potent reason must have been the fact that the entrance is flanked to the north by Point Reyes, and guarded in front by the Farallones. Fear of complication with these and with the reefs that might lie behind the Farallones drove the Spanish pilots farther to seaward and outside the latter islets. And, in view of the southeasterly trend of the coast below Point Reyes, the more direct course for the galleons was actually the one pursued to the right of the Farallones.

    Furthermore, the instructions carried by the galleons discouraged any departure from the routine track; and a too inquisitive pilot or captain, who would deviate from the beaten path to explore the land to his left, was prevented by the fear that his curiosity would be invoked against him in the residencia which was taken at the conclusion of the voyage. 4 After all, these were preeminently merchant ships, and the business of exploration lay outside their field, though chance discoveries were welcomed. 5

    There were two courses open to the galleon on the discovery of the se?as. 6 The one was to continue ahead until land was sighted before changing direction; the alternative was to veer to the southeast at once, and make land in the region of Lower California. 7 The former was the usual procedure in the early history of the line, as the other route was generally followed in the later part, though there was no uniformity as to the exact course during either period. In the first case the landfall was made high up on the California coast, depending, naturally, on the latitude at which the crossing had been made. A convenient and customary point for demarcation was the great headland of Cape Mendocino, as Esp?ritu Santo on Samar and San Lucas on Lower California were similar landmarks at other points on the route.

    However, the landfall might be made at any part of the coast to the south. Humboldt says that the first land sighted was the Santa Lucia Mountains, back of the Channel of Santa Barbara. 8 Morga, after describing the upper California coast as a ?very high and clear land,? says of the course southward from Mendocino: ?Without losing sight of land, the ship coasts along it with the NW, NNW, and N winds, which gradually prevail on the coast, blowing by day toward the land, and by night toward the sea again.? 9

    For the ships that chose this route Cabrera Bueno gives the points of demarcation, which are practically in the reverse order of Vizcaino's derrotero of 1602. 10 Turning SE by E from off Cape Mendocino, the next prominent landmark was Point Reyes, outside the sheltered harbor of Drake's Bay. 11 The galleons were directed not to follow the bend of the coast at this point, but to stand out a little to sea, in order to keep clear of the Farallones, which lie somewhat to the east of south. 12 Some thirty leagues south from Point Reyes the galleons sailed well out from the broad sweep of Monterey Bay, sighting the familiar Point Pinos. Thence the course lay down the barren coast by Point Concepcion, and through the Santa Barbara Channel, to the Lower California coast. 13

    When the galleon turned to the southeast on the discovery of the se?as, she made her landfall at some point along the lower coast. She sighted first either the island of Guadalupe, of Cenizas, or of Cedros. 14 From the point of the peninsula she struck across to the neighborhood of Cape Corrientes, and coasted along thence to Acapulco.

    The first motive for the settlement of California was the need for a way-station for these Manila Galleons. 15 Cortez himself had visited the coast of the peninsula, and in 1542 the expedition of Cabrillo and Ferrelo ascended to the region of Cape Mendocino. The opening of the Philippine trade in 1566 not only increased the familiarity of the Spaniards with the coast to the southward of that promontory, but that very coast offered excellent places of refuge for the sea-worn galleons at this stage of their long voyage. Beaten by the winter storms of the north Pacific, and stricken with scurvy and famine, these vessels were in a distressful condition when they reached the shores of America. And a port between thirty and forty-two degrees?the higher the better?would have furnished a place for refitting and reprovisioning. Such ports actually existed in San Francisco and Monterey Bays.

    One of the first to propose the exploration and occupation of California for this purpose was the Archbishop-Viceroy Moya de Contreras. It was he who commissioned Francisco Gali to explore the California coast with this end in view. Gali, who had already made the eastern passage from Macao, 16 crossed to Manila in the San Juan, and provided from the viceregal treasury with 10,000 pesos for the purchase of a new ship at Manila in case the San Juan should be considered unseaworthy for the further prosecution of the undertaking. On the return voyage to New Spain Gali was to chart the coast of Japan, the Island of the Armenian, and California. However, Gali died in Manila, and Pedro de Unamuno was selected to carry out the commission of Gali. Contrary to instructions Unamuno put into Macao, where he intended to make some investments for disposal at Acapulco. 17 In his voyage across the Pacific he could find neither the Island of the Armenian, nor the other fabulous isles, Rica de Oro and Rica de Plata, whose existence was then believed in. On October 16, 1587, two small islands were discovered lying close to the mainland of America, and two days later he found a large bay which he named San Lucas, but which was very probably that of Monterey. Passing Lower California shortly after Cavendish had taken the Santa Ana in that vicinity, Unamuno reached Acapulco on November 22. No attempt was made to follow up the results of the voyage, which he had so unsatisfactorily recorded. 18

    In January, 1593, Philip II ordered the work to be taken up again, ?for the security of the ships that come and go.? 19 In the capitana of the next year Viceroy Velasco sent out Sebastian Rodr?guez de Cermenho, or Cerme?on, a Portuguese,? ?because there are no Castillians suited for the work.? 20 Dasmari?as, the governor of the Philippines, was ordered to do all possible to aid the expedition. On July 5, 1595, Cermenho cleared from Cavite in the San Agust?n, a vessel of 130 tons, and with about seventy men on board. 21 Latitude 42 degrees was reached on October 22, and on November 11 land was sighted a short distance above Cape Mendocino. Cermenho described the coast thereabouts as very rough, and very dangerous on account of the strong wind that blew landward and the many islets and reefs near the shore. Thence the San Agust?n coasted southward, and finally put into Drake's Bay, which on December 6 Cermenho named ?Bay of San Francisco.? Entradas were made inland a few leagues in search for provisions, and though reported to be a pleasant country and fit for the cultivation of any crop, little food was found save acorns. On returning from one of these excursions Cermenho found to his dismay that the San Agust?n had been thrown on the rocks. After this disaster the work of exploration had to be abandoned for the elemental need of self-preservation. 22 From what could be salvaged of the ship a launch was constructed, and in this craft the survivors made their way after many hardships to the inhabited coasts of New Spain. They left the region of Point Reyes on December 8, and keeping about a league off shore they covered some ten leagues the first day. The next day they passed Half Moon Bay, but so far they had discovered ?nothing of moment,? though they must have steered close to the mouth of the greater San Francisco Bay. 23 On the tenth they saw an ensenada muy grande, which they named San Pedro, but which was clearly Monterey Bay. Their voyage thence southward was attended with increasing privations, and they were driven to desperate expedients for food. They subsisted at first on ?bitter acorns,? and ate a dog which they had on board,??even to his hide.? They bartered for food with the Indians pieces of silk which they had saved from the San Agust?n, and at one of the channel islands they took thirty fish, which they devoured ?forthwith.? Later they fed for eight days on a huge fish, which they found on the shore, where it ?had been killed.? At last they reached the Spanish settlements, Cermenho and most of the survivors going ashore at Navidad, while a few others,?Juan de Morgana, a pilot, and several seamen, entered Acapulco harbor on the last of January, 1596. 24 The geographical results of the expedition were inconsequential, for the loss of the San Agust?n occurred at the very moment when her task had begun, and she had reached the neighborhood of San Francisco Bay. 25

    The prosecution of the California project depended largely on the attitude of the reigning viceroy. Whereas Contreras and the Velascos enthusiastically promoted it, 26 Villamanrique was lukewarm or positively hostile, as Montesclaros was later. Gaspar de Zu?iga y Azevedo, Conde de Monterey, who succeeded the elder Velasco in the viceregal office in 1595, was even more energetic than his predecessor in the promotion of northern ploration and settlement. He declared to the King that, in spite of the loss of the San Agust?n, the work of exploring the upper coast should be resumed at once. 27 He recommended, however, that future operations should be conducted from Acapulco by the direct route taken by Cabrillo and Drake, rather than by the roundabout voyage via the Philippines. It was due to his initiative that the expeditions of Sebastian Vizcaino were undertaken in 1596 and 1602. The first of these voyages did not reach the region of upper California, and was of no consequence for the galleon navigation. The expedition of 1602 was, however, better organized and carried out on a larger scale. In a long voyage that was accompanied with many hardships the coast was explored to above Mendocino. 28 Besides the port of San Diego, which Cabrillo had entered, Vizcaino also visited and carefully reconnoitered the fine bay which, after the far-seeing viceroy, he named Monterey. 29 He declared this harbor ?all that could be desired as a way-station for the galleons.? Not only was there a safe anchorage, but there was an ample supply of good timber thereabouts for the repairing of the ships. Vizcaino praised, too, the excellence of the climate and the evident fertility of the soil in the neighborhood, while he received reports from the Indians of rich deposits of gold in the mountains in the interior. It appeared altogether a most promising situation for such a settlement as the viceroy contemplated, 30 with possibilities, moreover, independent of its advantages as a galleon station. A little higher up the coast Vizcaino passed well out from the entrance of San Francisco Bay, and of course he failed to find that will-of-wisp of the North,?the strait of Anian. But an excellent series of charts of such of the coast as had been made known were drawn, 31 and the acquaintance gained with the region formed a sufficient basis for the preliminary occupation of a port, whether San Diego or Monterey.

    The viceroy determined to push the project to execution as early as possible, and accordingly planned to send out Vizcaino again as a commander of the galleons for 1604, with the further intention that the latter should examine the vicinity of the proposed settlement even more minutely on his return from the Philippines. He takes this occasion to laud the work of Vizcaino, whom he calls a skilled and trustworthy navigator. ?He will give,? said Monterey, ?very good account of anything he undertakes at sea.? 32 However, even then Vizcaino's removal had already been decreed, and Monterey, although acquiescing in the royal resolution, inspired by some sinister influence or other, strongly advised the reinstatement of the veteran discoverer. Monterey himself had already been promoted to the other viceroyalty, and was at Acapulco, awaiting a ship to carry him south to Peru.

    The prospects for the continuation of the California plans were not bright. Not only were those two men who were responsible for their ultimate execution, and who moreover enthusiastically desired their consummation, now officially powerless to further them, but the new viceroy, Mendoza y Luna, Marqu?s de Montesclaros, was avowedly hostile to the whole project, and no friend to the galleon trade. He formally deprived Vizcaino of his commission for the further exploration of the California coast, and substituted for him one Diego de Mendoza. 33 He considered Vizcaino sufficiently recompensed by his appointment as alcalde mayor of Tehuantepec. The grandee was personally aggrieved at the Basque sailor, whom he charged with writing a letter to some high personage to the effect that the easiest way for Montesclaros to fulfill his duty to him (Vizcaino) and to make himself rich was to appoint him commander of the Philippine ships for the following year.

    However, in 1606 the king?Philip III,?on the recommendation of the Council of the Indies and of the chief Cosmographer, ordered measures to be taken to establish a post on the California coast that could serve as a way-station for the Manila Galleons. 34 The viceroy was commanded to entrust the expedition to the indispensable Vizcaino, who was to proceed by way of the Philippines, where he should receive whatever aid he might need from the governor before returning eastward to the California coast. 35 Montesclaros was meanwhile to raise the necessary soldiers and colonists for the peopling of the new post, of which Vizcaino would lay the preliminary foundations. The royal decree reached Mexico April 11, 1607,?long delayed by shipwreck. It was impossible to put it into execution that year, as the Acapulco galleons had cleared a month before, and Vizcaino had gone to Spain in the previous flota. 36

    It was on this occasion that Montesclaros made the counter-proposal which postponed the occupation of California for more than a century and a half. 37 While acknowledging the importance of a way-station for the galleons, 38 he declared against the establishment of such a post on the California coast, although he conceded that Monterey might be used in lieu of anything better. The sailors, he contended, considered their voyage virtually ended when they sighted the coasts of California, and usually passed Monterey Bay with all sail set for Acapulco. The real danger lay near the beginning of the route,?in the seas off Japan and thereabouts. And here, the viceroy believed, were two islands providentially situated for the purpose in question,?Rica de Oro and Rica de Plata. The existence of these islands was generally believed in at this time, except by the experienced pilots of the galleon line. Imagination endowed them with the usual fabulous riches of lands that never existed, and they were destined to take their place in the geography of Spanish fantasy, along with El Dorado and Quivira. ?Everything,? says the Jesuit Murillo Velarde, ?was thrown into confusion by the fantastic and pernicious idea of the islands of Rica de Oro and Rica de Plata,?a sort of Barataria of Sancho Panza.? 39 Montesclaros followed his recommendation of May 24 with a stronger representation in August, in which he invokes new and doubtful arguments against the occupation of California. 40 A post there, he charges, would only entice foreigners to that region, and so endanger the Spanish possession of that area, as well as imperil the galleon navigation. Monterey was too far from the ports of New Spain to be easily defended or reinforced, and such a port, if populated, would be the common property of friend and foe alike. Such a state of affairs would cause ?perpetual disquietude? on the coasts of Peru and New Spain. Finally Montesclaros would substitute for the reality of California two islands whose very existence was problematical.

    The junta de guerra y Indias, which was called to consider the viceroy's proposal, endorsed the recommended change, and decreed that, ?before he does anything else,? the new viceroy, the younger Velasco, should take measures for the discovery of Rica de Oro and Rica de Plata. 41 The 20,000 pesos which were to pay the initial costs of the establishment at Monterey were diverted to financing the wild-goose-chase in the western Pacific. Only in case the isles of fancy should actually be demonstrated to be inferior to the California coast as a site for a way-station should Monterey be occupied. In September of the following year (1608) the junta's endorsement was incorporated into law in an order to the viceroy, to the effect that Vizcaino should be despatched around by the Philippines to search for Rica de Oro and Rica de Plata. 42 The vacillating government, at the mercy of the most insistent petitioner of the moment, formally reversed its earlier decision, and California was left to lie fallow through the long decadence of Spain until the revival in the eighteenth century. It was 1611 before Vizcaino went to the westward in quest of the two islands, and though they were of course never found, the alternative project of Monterey was not resumed.

    In the interval between the suspension of the California design and its resumption 160 years later the interest shifted to Lower California, in which may be included the harbour of San Diego. 43 This region had been better known from early times than was the northwest coast. Attention was again drawn to it by Fray Antonio de la Ascension, who had accompanied Vizcaino on his northern expedition. In June, 1609, he recommended to the king the establishment of a settlement on the Bay of San Bernab? by Cape San Lucas, where the galleons could put in,??leaving Monterey, which is to be populated.? The proposal was reviewed by the Council of the Indies, and then submitted to the examination of Viceroy Velasco. 44 However, this project bore no immediate fruit, though it probably furnished the initial impulse for the numerous expeditions which were despatched to the region of Lower California during the seventeeth century. Other motives were at work in these movements, too, than the need for a way-station for the galleons. There were lucrative pearl fishing grounds in those waters. The gathering of the picilingues, or foreign privateers and pirates, in that vicinity from Cavendish and Spilbergen to the later irruptions of the buccaneers exposed a very vulnerable outwork of New Spain to occupation and the Philippine commerce to attacks. In 1712 Woodes Rogers said of the Spanish policy towards Lower California: ?They are jealous to keep what they have; and though they make no Use of their Land, might be afraid of Rivals.? 45 Also there was a geographical interest in the question as to whether California was island or peninsula, and in the associated problems of Anian and Quivira. And finally the northward missionary advance in New Spain was about to reach the field of Lower California,?especially the Jesuit phase of this movement. These objects, singly or conjointly, formed the impulse for the expeditions of those from Cardona to Otondo who undertook voyages to the region of the Gulf of California. But little came of all this for the galleons. It was long after 1700 before they could find a refuge on the southern coast.

    With the Bourbons there came a new interest in California. In 1703, and again in 1708, Philip V ordered the establishment of a post on the coast, preferably near the Cape, but the colonial officials did not execute the royal decree. 46 Then, in 1719 the king proposed the founding of a settlement on San Diego Bay, on the advice of Julio de Olib?n, an oidor of Guadalajara. 47 The port is described as ?capacious, pleasant, and well-situated,? and, says the king, it should be settled ?before the enemies of my crown occupy it.? For the immediate impetus of the proposal came from the fear of the intentions of the English, who had been so prevalent on that coast for the past several years. The settlement of either San Diego or Monterey would, declared the king, preserve the coast from the temporary depredations or more serious dangers from foreigners. It was suggested to Viceroy Valero that the new presidio could be garrisoned with gente ociosa from Mexico,?a possible inexhaustible source of colonists. But this project, too, became a dead letter when it reached New Spain,?and San Diego was not settled till 1769, after another half-century of delay.

    Except for the urgings of the indefatigable Jesuit, Padre Kino, who was pushing the frontier of New Spain landwards up the east coast of the Gulf and towards Upper California, 48 the impulse for the occupation of Lower California during the next few years came from the Philippines, where the lack of such an establishment was keenest felt. 49 The galleons of 1732 carried orders to unite in the Bay of San Diego, and though they approached its entrance they were prevented by rough weather from going in. The next year Governor Vald?s ordered the galleons to put in at Magdalena Bay, in case their commanders considered it advisable, and in 1734 he directed Joseph Berm?dez and Geronimo Montero, generals of the outgoing galleons, to reconnoiter the coast of Lower California for a site for a way-station. Montero put in at the Bay of San Bernab?, where the Jesuits had founded the Mission of San Joseph del Cabo four year before. He had but one day's water supply left and scarcely any provisions, while several were sick with the beri-beri, ?whose only remedy is to go ashore.? 50 There were taken into the galleon 100 head of sheep and hogs, 40 head of cattle, numerous game-birds, fruits, and vegetables, ?and other gifts.? Those on board were so revived that at Navidad, down the coast on the other side of the Gulf, people remarked: ?It is not possible that these men are China sailors, because we are accustomed to see in those of so difficult a navigation the aspect of dead men, or of mortified penitents.? 51 The following year the Encarnacion stopped at the Cape Mission in nearly as great distress as the galleon of 1734. However, the Jesuit station had meanwhile been blotted out in an Indian rising, in which the missionaries in charge were murdered. The party sent ashore from the galleon, ignorant of the fate of the Jesuits, were set upon by the revolted Indians and thirteen of the Spaniards killed. 52

    The mission was soon re-established and the galleons called there with considerable regularity until the suppression of the Society in 1767. How far the liberality of the padres was dictated by charitable motives has been a matter of controversy which cannot be discussed here. The chaplain of Anson's Centurion, Richard Walter, raised the issue, and Murillo Velarde answered the aspersion that those of his order were moved by the profits of their trading with the galleon rather than by ?Christian charity.? 53 Bancroft insists that it was only due to the Jesuit influence that the galleon put in at the Cape, which he declares was not to the ship's advantage, but only that the Jesuits might drive ?quite a lively trade.? 54

    In 1774 Josef de G?lvez charged that the Jesuits never did anything more than collect the government subsidy, while doing nothing for the royal interest in return. 55 ?That famous cape,? with its excellent, well-sheltered bay of San Bernab?, he declares, they had left in total abandon.

    The successful and definitive effort for the occupation of Upper California which was made in 1769 was the result of a composite of forces, the first of which was the two-century-old need for a galleon station, and the newest of which was the fear of Russian aggressions on the northern coasts. Not only had the Russians crossed to the American mainland from Siberia, but an ominous advance southward from Alaska did not portend well for Spain's possessions in that direction. 56 And between 1764-69 the expeditions of Byron, Wallis-Carteret, and Bougainville appeared in the Pacific, while in the latter year Cook rounded Cape Horn and crossed the South Sea to New Zealand and Australia. 57 The Spaniards saw in these more than astronomical or geographical curiosity, and dreaded above all the colonial ambitions of England, whose hold on the Philippines in 1762 had for a moment brought her to the edge of the Pacific. 58 In the face of all this it became increasingly clear to the Spaniards that actual possession alone would insure to her what she would keep. No papal bulls or sweeping claims would longer avail. Further, the final occupation of California would be rendered easier by the progress of the mission field toward the northwest through the work of such men as Kino. There was no longer the wide gap between the inhabited parts of New Spain and the Upper California coast, and thus entire reliance did not have to be placed upon the sea route as an avenue to the north. The policy of Spain was also now under different guidance than it had had under the fain?ant Hapsburgs. It was directed by the modern and enlightened Charles III, and by a body of ministers and colonial officials as advanced as the monarch. Among these was the energetic and masterly Josef de G?lvez, who, as visitador-general of New Spain, not only saw the pressing necessity of consummating the long-delayed occupation of Upper California, but his was the driving will that drove it to execution. 59 A combined missionary and military entrada into California in 1769 laid the foundations of presidios and missions. And not only were Spaniards in actual possession of Monterey at last, but the far superior harbor of San Francisco was discovered. By 1776 San Diego, Monterey and San Francisco, with a connecting line of missions, had been founded. Either of the ports in question would make a suitable port-of-call for the Manila galleons.

    On June 22, 1773, the Council of the Indies decreed that the galleons should put in at Monterey, both for their own good and for the welfare of the colony, and on December 14 a royal order was issued to the same effect. 60 But though a fine of 4000 pesos was imposed on the commander of the galleon for failure to stop, the most of them preferred to continue on their way and risk the possibility of paying the fine rather than endure the delay.

    The governors of the Philippines, save in the case of Basco y Vargas, 61 were furthermore lenient in holding the galleon officers to account, while Berenguer de Marquina actually took it upon himself to suspend the royal order of October, 1777. 62 However, in 1795 the king himself suspended his previous order. At that time the Marqu?s de Bexamar declared that it was not to the advantage of colony or vessel that the nao should call at a California port. 63 Against Monterey he alleged that the harbor was too shallow for the galleon to tie up there. The ordinary route of the galleons was at this period far out from the Upper California coast, and they must accordingly leave their course to reach San Francisco and Monterey. Sometimes too they passed by the entrances of these bays under full sail for Acapulco a month to the southward. The ban placed by Viceroy Bucarely in 1773 on trading between the galleon and the colonists?whether laymen or priests?moreover removed one of the main incentives for stopping. 64 Felipe de Neve, governor of the new province, even prohibited the missionaries from going aboard the galleons, while Gonz?les, commandant at Monterey, was arrested for trading with the galleon. 65 In view of the potentialities of the region, such an illiberal prohibition greatly restricted the economic growth of the colony, not only by depriving it of an outlet for its productions, but of its best source of supplies,?the Philippines. 66

    As it was, but few galleons put in at the California ports. The first was the San Jos?, which called at Monterey in 1779. 67 In 1784 Basco y Vargas gave the San Felipe (Bruno de Heceta, General, and Antonio Maurelle, Pilot) specific orders to stop at San Francisco or Monterey. 68 The San Felipe reached Monterey October 10, and remained there till November 7 before proceeding for Acapulco, which she reached on December 11. 69 The San Jos? stopped again the next year, storm-wracked and pest-ridden; but in 1786 the San Andr?s passed by, although she lost thirty-six with the scurvy, and left forty-five more at San Blas to convalesce. 70 In 1795 two galleons put in at Monterey, while two years later one put in at Monterey and another at Santa Barbara.


    1. Bobadilla, Relation des Iles Philippines, in Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, XXIX, 310.

    2. A Voyage Round the World in the Years MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV, 335.
    3. For the case of the San Agust?n see below; for the other galleons see Morga, Sucesos, in B. and R., XVI, 28.
    4. Las instrucciones que se dan ? los Generales de los Galeones de esta carrera de la Nueva Espa?a, o ? los que les subcedan en el cargo para que las guarden, cumplan y executen, hagan cumplir y guardar ? todos los oficiales, pasageros, Gente de Mar y Guerra en el discurso del Viage en ida, estada y buelta, 1743, Archivo de Indias, 68-6-38; and Arand?a, Ordenanzas de Marina, 1757.
    5. ?Si el Bagel tomare puerto en parage poco conocido por algun acaso o necesidad, procurar? sacar su plano, si es posible. . . . Y recalando siempre sobre las costas de California, o si por accidente fuera otra la que se viere, notar? todo lo que reconozca de particular de las corrientes,sondas, variaciones de la Abuja, y demas que conduzca ? su gobierno, y noticia de otros.? Ibid., 41.
    6. The first se?as, or signs of land, were sometimes met with several hundred miles from the American coast. There was a fairly regular succession of them as the galleon neared the land: first, the fungous aguas malas; then, at about a hundred leagues out, the perillos, ?with head and ears like a dog and a tail like that they paint the mermaids with? (Gemelli Careri, in Churchill, Voyages, IV, 493); the porras, a yellow, onion-like herb, with long roots floating on the surface; finally, at thirty leagues or nearer, the balsas, or large bunches of grass. Morga, op. cit., 204-5. Cabrera Bueno gives the color of the porras as green or red (colorado), and says that their roots were from three to four brazos long. Navegacion especulativa y pr?ctica, 293. Cubero Sebastian, who likens them to beets, remarks as to their origin: ?Vienen sobre el mar, arrojadas de aquellos caudalosos rios, que salen de aquella tierra inc?gnita de la Nueva Espa?a, que est? en 38 ? 40 grados.? Breve relacion, 334. Cubero says of the balsas: ?Estas hojas y raices quanto mas nos vamos Ilegando ? tierra vienen juntas en cantidad, y los Marineros les Ilaman Balsas; encima destas Balsas vienen unos pescados ? manera de Monillos, que los Marineros Ilaman Lobillos, y por mis mismos ojos los v?; juegan encima de las Balsas, y leugo se zabullen dentro el agua.?
    7. In the log of the San Pedro for October 22, 1778, in longitude 101 degrees, 25 minutes east of Manila, and latitude 31 degrees, 42 minutes, an entry reads: ?We passed a green porra, and orders were given to steer ESE.? Diario de la fragata San Pedro, Archivo de Indias, 108-4-25.
    8. Essai politique, IV, 102.
    9. Op. cit. ?She falls in first with the coast of California and then coasts along the shoar to the South again, and never misses a wind to bring her away from thence to Acapulco.? Dampier, Voyage, I, 245.
    10. Cabrera Bueno, op cit., 303. Pedro Calder?n Henriquez, a famous colonial official of the eighteenth century, said that this portion of Cabrera's book was based on Vizcaino's work. Calder?n to Arriaga, February 24, 1769, Archivo de Indias, 107-1-17. For Vizcaino's voyage consult Bolton's Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706.
    11. A document in the Dep?sito Hidrogr?fico at Madrid,?Coleccion de Navarrete, t. I, no. 15,?entitled, Derrotero del viage de Nueva Espa?a para las Islas Filipinas y vuelta de ellas ? la dicha Nueva Espa?a, contains the following: ?A la vuelta de lesueste hay una bah?a grande, donde hay muchos Indios y agua, no hacen mal, comen vellotas en lugar de pan, y cangrejos. Estando en esta Bah?a parecen unos islotes unos al sur, otros al luesudeste; si vinieres de mar en fuera ap?rtate de ellos, que es tierra de 38? grados.? Though undated, this document is evidently of early date.
    12. La nao de Filipinas navegar? con confianza desde que aviste los Farallones del Puerto de San Francisco en Californias.? Viceroy Branciforte to Diego de Gardoqui, June 26, 1796, Archivo de Indias, Estado?Mexico, legajo 6.
    13. Cabrera Bueno in one of the three courses which he describes, gives the following demarcation for a route involving a landfall in 35? degrees: thence between the cordillera of islands and the mainland, southeast by south, along about seventy-five leagues of wooded coast, where an extra spar could be cut if there were need; to make land again at the island of Guadalupe in 29 degrees; thence a day's run to Cape San Lucas. Op. cit., 295. The San Antonio de Padua in 1679 sighted land in 36 degrees, 29 minutes,??some very high, whitish, and treeless mountains.? Cubero Sebastian, op. cit., 336. The Rosario made her landfall in 1702 at Point Concepcion, and the Covadonga in 1731 in 36 degrees, 20 minutes. Extracts from Journals of Voyages between the Philippines and New Spain, 1699-1731, British Museum, 19294.
    14. Las instrucciones, etc., op. cit.: Diario del viaje que hizo desde Manila ? Acapulco el Galeon Santisima Trinidad, 1756-7, Archivo de Indias, 107-1-13.
    15. Bolton, Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706, 43. ?Para proseguir el descubrimiento de aquella costa y tierra desde 41 grades ? adelante es de mucha importancia, y muy necesario para la buelta de las Naos de Filipinas y de todas las partes del Poniente.? Fray Andr?s de Aguirre to the Archbishop-Viceroy, Moya de Contreras, 1584, Dep?sito Hidrogr?fico, Coleccion de Navarrete, t. 18, no. 30.
    16. The true and perfect description of a voyage performed and done by Francisco de Gualle . . . in the yeere of our Lord, 1584, in Hakluyt, Voyages (Hakluyt Society edition), IX, 326-37, taken from Linschoten's Voyage; Burney, A Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean, II, 58-60. Navarrete describes Gali as ?el hombre mas aventajado y de cr?dito que all? hab?a, y que en materia de cosmograf?a podr?a competir con los mas escogidos de Espa?a.? Expediciones en busca del Paso del Noroeste de la America, p. xlv. Even Navarrete accepted the evidently erroneous account of Gali's reaching the American coast in 57? degrees, where he found a ?pais hermoso, muy poblado de ?rboles y enteramente sin nieve.? See also Greenhow, The History of Oregon and California and the other Territories on the Northwest Coast of North America from their Discovery to the Present Day, 66; and Bancroft, North Mexican States, I, 143.
    17. Governor Santiago de Vera to the King, April 26, 1587, B. and R., VI, 307.
    18. Relacion y derrotero del viage y descubrimiento que hizo el capit?n Pedro de Unamuno, desde los puertos de Macan y Canton hasta el de Acapulco en Nueva Espa?a, 1587, Archivo de Indias, 1-1-3-25. Villamanrique to the King, November 29, 1588, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-10. See Richman, California under Spain and Mexico, 24-29, and notes. Richman translates the essential part of the Relacion y derrotero, a copy of which exists in the Bancroft Library of the University of California.
    19. King to Viceroy, January 17, 1593, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-11.
    20. Velasco to the King, April 6, 1594, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-11.
    21. ?Se despacharon tres naos, . . . y San Agust?n del capn Pedro Sarmiento que so color del descubrimiento del Cavo Mendozino lo despacho de aqui el Gobernador.? Francisco de Lasmissas to the King, Manila, June 16, 1596, Archivo de Indias, 67-6-29. Derrotero y relacion del descubrimiento que hizo el Capitan y Piloto mayor Sebastian Rodriguez Cermenho por orden de su magestad, hasta la Isla de Cedros, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-16.
    22. Informacion sobre la calidad de la tierra que se vido en el puerto que se tom?, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-12. Bancroft says: ?Cermenon's pilot, Bola?os, visited this port with Vizcaino in 1603, and his statement is all there is extant of the voyage.? North Mexican States, I, 147. See note on p. 372 of Richman, op. cit. Richman was the first to use the Derrotero y relacion from the Archivo de Indias.
    23. Me parece que se convence y colige claro que algunas vayas de las Principales y donde mas se podia esperar de hallar puerto, las atravesaron de punta ? punta, y de noche, y en otras entraron poco; ? todo debio dar ocasion forzosa la hambre y enfermedad con que dicen que ven?an que los har?an apresurar el Viage.? Viceroy Monterey to the King, April 19, 1596, in Anuario de la Direccion de Hidrograf?a, XX, 410.
    24. Oficiales Reales to Monterey, Acapulco, February 1, 1596, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-12.
    25. Navarrete wrongly says of the San Agust?n: ?Sali? ? la mar, y regres? sin haber podido desempe?ar su encargo.? Op. cit., p. XLI.
    26. ?Cuidado me de la navegacion de las Islas Filipinas porque de vuelta de ellas siempre hay desgracias, . . . y todas suceden por ser la navegacion muy larga y no tener puerto en la tierra firme, donde hacer escala y proveerse de lo necesario y por remediar este da?o deseo mucho descubrir los puertos de la tierra firme y demarcarlos y saber sus alturas.? Velasco to the King, May 31, 1591, in Anuario de la Direccion de Hidrograf?a, XX, 408. Adbertimientos que el Virrey Don Luis de Velasco dio al Conde de Monterey, su sucesor en el govierno de la Nueva Espa?a, Biblioteca Nacional, document J-13, f. 167, sect. 5. However, Velasco was hindered by lack of funds from prosecuting the search. Velasco to the King, October 8, 1593, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-11.
    27. Summary of letter of Monterey to the King, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-12.
    28. ?A resultado entera luz en lo que se deseava y claridad de que ay dos otros puertos buenos.? Monterey to Montesclaros, Acapulco, March 28, 1604, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-15. See Bolton, op. cit., for the details of Vizcaino's voyage.
    29. Vizcaino to the Council of the Indies, Monterey, December 28, 1602, in Anuario de la Direccion de Hidrograf?a, XX, 450.
    30. Monterey to the King, March 26, 1603, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-14.
    31. See Richman, p. 22, for reproductions of two sections of this series. The Bancroft Library contains copies of the entire series.
    32. Monterey to the King, Otumba, November 12, 1603, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-14. ?Sabr? dar muy buena quenta de qualquier negocio de la mar, y a mi parecer la dar? assimismo en cargas de justicia.?
    33. Montesclaros to the King, October 28, 1605, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-15.
    34. Real c?dula, 1606, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-15.
    35. The King to Governor Acu?a, August 19, 1606, B. and R., XIV, 185-189.
    36. Burney wrongly says that preparations for the occupation of California were stopped by the death of Vizcaino. A Chronological History of Discoveries in the South Seas or Pacific Ocean (1803), II, 258. This error is repeated in Coman, The Economic Beginnings of the Far West, I, 15.
    37. Montesclaros to the King, May 24, 1607, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-16.
    38. ?Important?simo es hallar puerto donde hagan escala los nav?os de buelta de viage de Filipinas porque en tan larga navegacion la mayor parte del peligro es no tener donde reparar los da?os que se reciben.?
    39. Geographia Hist?rica, libro IX, p. 183.
    40. Montesclaros to the King, Acapulco, August 4, 1607, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-16.
    41. Junta de guerra y Indias, consulta, February 18, 1607, Archivo de Indias, 58-3-16. This junta consisted of the Conde de Lemos and six others.
    42. The King to Velasco, September 27, 1608, B. and R., XIV, 273.
    43. See Venegas, Noticia de la California, II, passim; and Bancroft, North Mexican States, I, passim.
    44. The King to Velasco, April 14, 1609, Archivo de Indias, 87-5-2. ?Fray Antonio de la Ascension, descal?o de la orden de Nuestra Se?ora del Carmen, me escrivio por carta de 18 de Junio del a?o pasado las conveniencias que seguir?an de hazerse una poblacion en el Cavo de San Lucas . . . en el puerto ? baya de San Bernab? dexando al de Monterey que a entendido est? mandado poblar pues por estar aquel puerto de San Bernab? en altura de veinte y tres grados y en sitio mejor sera mucho mas ? proposito que el de Monterey para hazer escala las naos de la contratacion de las Filipinas.?
    45. A Cruising Voyage Round the World, 286.
    46. Haciendo en ?l alguna fortificacion ? Poblacion en que los Navegantes refrescasen el rancho y descansasen del travajo de tan dilatado viaje.? The King to Viceroy Albuquerque, July 26, 1708, Archivo de Indias, 103-3-3.
    47. The King to Viceroy Valero, February 18, 1719, Archivo de Indias, 103-3-4.
    48. ?Se podr? pasar asta la contra costa de la mar de la California y a su Cavo Mendosino al puerto de Monterey y podr? aver escala para el Nao de China ? Galeon de Filipinas, y juntamente algun comercio paraestas provincias de Sonora y Nueva Vizcaya y Nueva Galicia al Norte y Noroeste se podr? ir intrando hasta la gran Quivira y hasta el Gran Teguayo, y hasta el estrecho de Anian, y quisas tambien por alla se podr? abrir camino y mas breve nabegacion para Espa?a.? Kino, Favores celestiales, 1699-1710, MS. copy in possession of Herbert E. Bolton.
    49. Traslado de peticion auto y informacion, etc., Mexico, April 26, 1735, Archivo de Indias, 67-3-29. This is an interesting expediente on the need for a way-station at Cape San Lucas.
    50. ?A no haver allado puerto en California hubiera perecido toda su gente.? Gaspar Rodero to Miguel de Villanueva, January 21, 1738, Archivo de Indias, 67-3-29.
    51. ?Il Capitano del Vascello ne informa il Vice re, e questi ordino, che d'allora innanzi tutti i vascelli delle isole Filippine facessere scala nel porto di San Barnaba. Lo stesso venne ordinato del Governo di quelle isole.? Clavigero, Storia della California, II, 83.
    52. Viceroy Vizarr?n to the King, April 23, 1735, Archivo de Indias, 67-3-29.
    53. Geographia Hist?rica, libro IX, p. 181. Venegas also denies the allegation. Op. cit., III, 222. ?Nuestra compa?ia, madre de enfermos y desvalidos.? Kino, op. cit.
    54. North Mexican States, I, 468.
    55. G?lvez to Arriaga, March 8, 1774, Archivo de Indias, 104-6-16. ?Deber?n situarse y perseverar de continuo en el Cabo de San Lucas que es el sitio mas expuesto y la Ilave de la California de Sur.?
    56. Pedro Calder?n Enr?quez to Arriaga, February 24, 1769, Archivo de Indias, 107-1-17. In the previous November Calder?n had proposed from Manila the abolition of the post on Guam and the diversion of the expenses of its maintenance,?about 32,000 pesos a year,?to the foundation of a post on the California coast. Twenty-one years before Calder?n, an oidor at Manila, had urgently advised the occupation of Monterey. Calder?n to the King, July 12, 1748, Archivo de Indias, 68-4-32.
    57. Probably the best summary of these voyages is in Heawood, A History of Geographical Discovery in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1912).
    58. Spaniards had long realized the strategic value of the Philippines as a bulwark for the defence of the American coasts against aggressions from the west. Grau y Monfalc?n, Justificacion de la conservacion, y comercio de las Islas Philipinas, 1640, in Abreu, Extracto historical, f. 7. Sim?n de Anda warned the Spanish government in 1768 that the abandonment of the Philippines would result in the loss of Spain's American empire. Anda to Arriaga, July 7, 1768, Archivo de Indias, 108-3-17. Anda was Governor of the Philippines from 1762 to 1764, and from 1770 to 1776.
    59. On G?lvez see the comprehensive work by Herbert I. Priestley,?Jos? de G?lvez Visitor-General of New Spain (1765-1771), (Berkeley, 1916). On the whole subject of ?the northwestward expansion of New Spain? consult Charles E. Chapman's The Founding of Spanish California (New York, 1916).
    60. Archivo de Indias, 108-3-9. This order reviews the attempts made in the early seventeenth century to bring about the occupation of Monterey. ?Por Real C?dula de 19 de Agosto de 1606 se mand? con consideracion ? lo mucho que importaba ? la salvacion y seguridad de las Naos que vienen de esas islas en navegacion de 2000 leguas de golfo lanzado que tengan puerto en el camino donde repararse y proveerse de le?a, agua y bastimentos.?
    61. Basco y Vargas to G?lvez, Ronda, August 18, 1777, Archivo de Indias, 108-4-27.
    62. Berenguer to the Conde de T?pa, January 17, 1791, Archivo de Indias, 108-4-27. ?Todos aseguran ser peligroso y muy dificil el puerto de Monterey, y ademas de esto, no llevando como no llevan cosa alguna que desembarcar all?, ni haciendo otro gasto que el de un refresco de carnes y hortalizas, el pretendido fomento de aquel establecimiento no se podr? conseguir jam?s de este modo.? Berenguer to Antonio Vald?z, July 10, 1789, Archivo de Indias, 107-5-17.
    63. Marques de Baxamar to the Governor of the Philippines and the Viceroy of New Spain, March 5, 1795, Archivo de Indias, 108-4-27. ?El Virrey Conde de Revillagigedo en carta de 27 de Enero de 1790 . . . dice que los riesgos de esta escala son despreciables.? Council of the Indies, consulta, January 27, 1794, Archivo de Indias, 108-4-27. One of the strongest advocates of the California station was the Hispanicized Englishman, Philip Thompson, ?frigate's ensign and first-pilot of the royal navy.? Thompson to the King, January 10, 1777, Archivo de Indias, 108-4-27.
    64. Bancroft, History of California, I, 217; see also 440-43.
    65. Ibid., 384, 470.
    66. The trade in the furs of marine animals offered a very promising field. Ciriaco Gonz?lez Caravajal, Expediente sobre establecer por la Compa??a de Filipinas un comercio de pieles de nutrias castores y Lobos marinos de la costa de California, February 3, 1786, Archivo de Indias, 104-5-19. There is also in the Archivo de Indias an interesting document on this subject, without date or signature. Estado, Audiencia de Filipinas, legajo, no. 4, document no. 3.
    67. Palou, Noticias, II, 363.
    68. Pedro Basco to G?lvez, Manila, June 22, 1784, Archivo de Indias, 105-4-6.
    69. Idem to idem, Acapulco, December 22, 1784, Archivo de Indias, 105-4-6.
    70. Pedro Basco to Bernardo de G?lvez, December 29, 1786, Archivo de Indias, 108-4-25. Basco frankly says: ?Luego que tom? la determinacion de hacer el viaje, la hice igualmente de no arrivar al puerto de Monterey en la costa de la Nueva California, como est? mandado por S. M.? Audiencia of Mexico to G?lvez, January 4, 1787, Archivo de Indias, 108-4-25.

  9. #8

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons

    The sacking of the Gallion Santa Ana

    On the heels of the upstart Nuestra Se?ora de Buena Esperanza, the official trade galleon of 1587 from Manila. the Santa Ana, approaced the coast of California where it would swing down on a South-South-Easterly course to Acapulco. The galleon was under the command of Tom?s de Alzola and it had left the port of Cavite the last week of June, some four-and-a-half months earlier.

    The Buena Esperanza left Macao two weeks later but had the advantage of starting from a higher latitude and not having to navigate through close islands.

    In the meantime, there was concern in Peru that English corsairs might have made their way up the coast after going through the Straits of Magellan. In fact, they sent a ship to Acapulco to warn the authorities there that incoming galleons were in danger of getting waylaid. The warning was not taken too seriously although a token effort was undertaken to send a launch to go up the coast of California and warn incoming ships.

    In fact, two English ships under the command of twenty-seven-year-old Thomas Cavendish were already stationed around San Lucas, then believed to be the southern extremity of the island of California. Cavendish?s flagship Desire and the smaller Content were taking in water and other provisions in a place marked on Spanish maps as Aguada Segura, meaning a place where one can be sure of getting fresh water.

    The Santa Ana had 100 Spaniards and 60 people of color on board. It was also heavily laden with goods. Galleons tended to be overloaded with undeclared goods put on board with the assistance of corrupt port masters. Alzola would later testify that he had to dump some cargo right after leaving Cavite as the ship was nearing Mindoro in an effort to make the ship easier to handle.

    It was November 14th when the Santa Ana approached the coast in clear weather. The Buena Esperanza, which had made landfall at a higher latitude earlier, had come in when fog covered the whole California coast. The very fog that had made it difficult for Unamuno had saved him from the fate that befell Alzola.

    A lookout on the Santa Ana saw sails between their ship and the California shore. The crew and passengers were happy at the thought that it was the Buena Esperanza, their sister ship from the Philippines, and one of its launches. But as the other ships approached, Alzola raised an alarm because the lookout saw the red and white standards flown by the ships signifying their English nationality.

    Alzola ordered camouflage netting to be deployed and distributed rocks, swords, and two arquebuses to all able-bodied hands. The Santa Ana had no cannons to defend herself. In spite of the fact that Francis Drake has attacked towns and ships along New Spain and Peru nine years earlier, the Spaniards were confident that they owned the Pacific and that no harm, other than from nature, can come to ships that sailed under her flag in that ocean. This was ironic because on its last trip to Acapulco the Santa Ana was equipped with cannons installed in Manila. Acapulco authorities decided to keep the cannons to defend their city from potential pirate attacks.

    As the Desire drew alongside, several Englishmen boarded the Santa Ana and fierce hand-to-hand combat erupted. The initial attack was repulsed and the Englishmen withdrew, many jumping into the sea to escape the wrath of the defenders.

    The Desire charged again, shooting artillery and ramming the Santa Ana in turn. Some shells hit their mark and produced holes below the waterline. The English ship drew alongside and some of her men boarded the Santa Ana once more. One was able to climb the main mast and cut down the main sail. He was killed by arquebus shots.

    In spite of the fierce fighting that lasted some five to six hours, only a handful of lives from each side was lost. Alzola knew that his ship was sinking, announced to his crew that all was lost, and raised the flag of truce.

    Cavendish sent a launch over to pick up Pedro Bravo de Paredes who was designated by Alzola to negotiate with the Englishmen regarding surrender terms. Some officers from the Desire came back in a while and picked up Tom?s de Alzola, Fray Francisco Ramos, Don Juan de Almendrales, Antonio de Sierra, Juan Baldonado, and Sebastian Rodriguez Cerme?o.

    Don Juan de Almendrales, canon of Manila, would later be hanged for fighting and using abusive language on his captors.

    The next day the sinking Santa Ana was sailed to shore. The passengers and crew were put ashore together with some thirty other Spaniards who had been captured by Cavendish in earlier encounters. Some indios and negroes were detained on board the Santa Ana to man the pumps. Cavendish wanted the Santa Ana to remain afloat until he recovered all its cargo.

    Cavendish and his men spent the next several days sacking the ship. He carefully chose what he wanted from the ship?s cargo and stores. The Santa Ana had a cargo of gold, pearls, satin, silk, damask, and musk.

    The English account say they took 22,000 pesos in gold while one Spanish account said 600,000. Total estimates for the total loss vary from 120,000 to over 2,100,000 pesos. More likely, the loss was in the range of 400,000 to 800,000 pesos. In any event, it would remain on record as the largest loss ever suffered by a galleon during the over two centuries of Manila-Acapulco trade.

    After the sacking, the Santa Ana was beached and set afire. The fire went on for four long days before dying out.

    Cavendish gave arms and provisions to the men and women he had set ashore. He left them arquebuses, swords, sailcloth, utensils, wine, garbanzos, and other provisions. He returned to Alzola the ship?s registry which he signed as a receipt for the things that he took as war booty.

    Cavendish and his two ships sailed away to go west to the Moluccas. To help him navigate the ocean he had never seen, he took with him two pilots, Alonzo de Valladolid and Sebastian Rodriguez Cerme?o. He also kept on board Miguel Sanchez, another pilot he had captured earlier. Valladolid had a 19-year-old slave from Panay Island, Francisco Mangabay.

    Cavendish also took with him two Japanese brothers (Cristobal, 20 and and Cosme, 17) and three Filipino boys (Alfonso, 15, Antonio de Dasi, 13, and one unnamed, 9).

    Cavendish made one of the fastest Pacific crossings ever, reaching the Philippines in 56 days, three to four weeks faster than normal. In Capul (an island in San Bernardino Straits), he released some hostages, including Mangabay. However, Valladolid was hanged after he was caught writing a letter to the governor of the Philippines.

    It did not take long for news to travel to Manila about the loss of the Santa Ana. Causing further consternation among the authorities was the seeming ease with which the small enemy ships with only a small complement of men could enter their territory and how powerless they were to drive them away.

    Back in San Lucas, the marooned men and women made the best of their situation. After 12 days, some of the men swam to the burnt-out hull of the Santa Ana to check it out. The bottom part which was in the water was intact.

    The men spent the next few days bailing water out of the lower part of the ship, scraping the wood, and making a few repairs until it floated again. They fashioned a mast from some pieces of wood they salvaged and used the material left them by Cavendish to make a sail.

    After 36 days is San Lucas, they were underway again on December 21. They spent Christmas at sea and reached the Port of Santiago on January 2, 1588 where they discharged 11 sick passengers. They reached Acapulco on January 6, 1588 just as Cavendish was only a week away from the Philippines.

    The news of the sacking of the Santa Ana reached New Spain and Manila almost simultaneously. It caused shock waves that would be felt in years to come as Spanish authorities started to reexamine how they could best protect their interests in the Pacific. It was not Portugal anymore that was the enemy but a Protestant nation that would not take orders from the Pope.

    Francis Drake did not cause the Spaniards to worry too much. It took Thomas Cavendish and the tremendous commercial loss of the Santa Ana to wake everybody up to the fact the the Pacific was not a Spanish lake anymore. Then, as today, commercial interests were the prime movers of international policy.

  10. #9

    Sep 2005

    specific galleons

    thanks for all the help. Now I am targeting the sant marta, nuestra senora de ayuda and the san sebastian that was targeted by george compton. Thes all sank off catalin island

  11. #10

    Apr 2005
    2 times

    Re: Manila galleons


    I am away from home, so am not able to check if that last extract was also from Schurz, but it contains a number of errors about the capture of the Santa Ana, including the one that is of greatest potential interest to this forum.

    Cavendish had only two small ships by the time he catured the Santa Ana, the 120 tunne Desire and the Content about half that size. ?The Santa Ana was about 500 tunnes, so the English were able to take only a small proportion of its cargo. ?Naturally, they would have taken the most valuable items.

    Cavendish then distributed the plunder between the two ships, but the crew of the Content were very unhappy about their share annd threatrened to mutiny. ?This was not reported in the first official account of the voyage, in the 1589 version of Richard Hakluyt's "Principall Navigtions etc", but is described in the 1600 version. ?A way was found of satisfying the Content "for the moment at least" but when Cavendish headed off for the East Indies and home, the Content did not follow her, and was never seen again.

    Later, in the Philippines, one of the prisoners taken from the Santa Ana prepared ?aletter warning the Spanish authorities of Cavendish's presence, and that the Content had gone in search of the North West Passage. ?Another of the prisoners, who was Vizcaino and not Cermeno as your extract says, warned Cavendish about the letter. ?The offending prisoner was hanged while Vizcaino was freed. (it was lucky that the Spanish authorities did not know about this act when they later appointed Vizcaino to lead a number of expeditions, including the 1602 voyage mentioned earlier in this thread, in which he was reputedly also searching for the North West Passage)

    So the important questions are: why was the distribution of the treasure so importnat to the crew of the Content at this stage of the voyage; how was the mutiny quelled; and what then happened to the Content?

    I believe that the hanged prisoner was right in that the Content did go off in search of the North West Passage,and that its parting of the ways was no surprise to anybody. ?The search for the Passage was almost certainly one of the main, but secret, objectives of Cavendish's voyage, as it had been for Drake eight years earlier. ?Like Drake, Cavendish, after capturing a major prize, decided not to risk his entire plunder by trying to return to England by the unknown and potentially dangerous North West Passage. ?Martin Frobisher had by then completed his three searches forthe eastern end of the Passage, and reported that he had found it, but that even by the end of July it was partially frozen and full of icebergs, so Cavendish and Drake both had reason to be cautious about the dangers.

    Cavendish therefore decided to take the most valuable parts of the plunder and return to England the easy/safest way, via the East Indies. ?Incidentally, the official account says it included 125,000 pieces of gold. That is why the plunder was divided there and then, rather than after they returned to England, as would have been the normal practice. However, the crew of the Content knew that they were facing the unknown, and they wanted to make sure they were properly compensated. ?No promises, they wanted their share of the treasure to reflect the risk. That is why they threatened to mutiny, and the way it was overcome was by giving them more of the most valuable stuff. ?This had not necessarily come from the Santa Ana, by the way.

    So the Content, complete with its valuable cargo, went off in search of the North West Passage, and was never seen again, at least not by European eyes. ?I am aware of evidence that suggests strongly that the Content wrecked on the North West coast, somewhere north of California. ?Now that would be a wreck worth finding, wouldn't it?


  12. #11

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons


    This is the great thing about researching, there are so many different accounts for us to follow, and the stories are all very interesting (to me at least). Your version shows a different story and thus a new path to follow so the quest is always ongoing. Thanks.

    I am not realy familiar with the wrecks in the USA at all but of course they are very interesting, but most of my life has been in the Middle East and Asia. I spent years reaserching an East Indiaman sank in the Indian Ocean, only to find a book written 180 years ago almost gave the position, when I found the the British navy records they gave precise bearings of the wreck. Unfortunately the bearings were from a flag staff the survivors had erected on the sand spit they were on and of course that is not there any more. Then I went back to the chart of the area charted just 2 years after the wreck and sure enough HMS Bulldog had charted the position of the wreck on it chart of that time. (this is of course hyperthetical as I have not been to the location yet)

    With these posts I am trying to give the younger guys a starting point for their own research, and as you know this something that takes time and effort, but many of the younger guys do not know where to look. The stuff I am posting is realy quite easy to find and offers many roads to follow. At least I hope so.

    Keep up the good work

    Michael Collins

  13. #12

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons


    When Ferdinand Magellan and his ships departed hurriedly from Guam in March of 1521 after just a few days on the island, he was very happy to be leaving but not as happy as the ancient Chamorros were to see him go. When he first arrived on Guam, Magellan and his crew were on the verge of starvation, many of whom were dying from scurvy, the disease most dreaded by sailors. By helping themselves to all the food they wanted, they began to regain their health. In the meantime, the natives were also helping themselves to what they wanted on the ships. As builders of the swift and elegant proas, the natives were particularly fascinated with the European skiff on the ship and decided to take it with them. An infuriated Magellan, a seasoned fighter while in the service of his native Portugal, decided to the teach the natives a lesson. He led an attack against the ancients, overwhelmed them with his superior weapons, killed some natives, and burned a village -- all in one fell swoop. This was bewildering to the natives whose existence largely depended on their strong tradition of communal living. They generously gave food and water to the starving explorers only to have themselves killed or maimed by the strangers to their shores. His departure from Guam with his guns firing was not Magellan's final shot. That was to happen later when he changed the name of the Chamorro Islands from Islas de las Velas Latinas (Islands of Lateen Sails), out of fascination with the flying proas of the natives, to Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of Thieves). Although this name was eventually replaced with Islas Marianas (Mariana Islands), Magellan's derogatory designation still appears parenthetically on some maps printed 475 years after his visit to Guam. After Magellan left, it would be 44 years before Spain sent an expedition to claim Guam for the Crown and it would be another 100 years before Father Diego Luis de San Vitores would start a mission for the Church. The Philippines was an entirely different story. For many years before Magellan set foot in the Philippines, it had already been engaged in commerce with neighboring island countries and the Chinese mainland. The Spaniards immediately realized the enormous potential for trade of goods between Europe and Asia. Under their direction and control, an eastward route across the Pacific was sought and ships of their design were built in the Philippines by local and Asian shipbuilders. Thus was born around 1565 the most enterprising commercial venture of the time -- the exchange of goods and commodities between Europe and Asia via the Manila Galleons. For 250 years, the galleons sailed between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico which served as a receiving and transfer point for goods to be transported overland to Vera Cruz and loaded on ships headed for Spain. There was an average of one round trip a year with a stop-over on Guam on the return trip from Acapulco. The precious cargo on the galleons made them targets for pirates. The overloading of the vessels with passengers and goods cause many of them to flounder at sea. Shipments east included silk, spices, porcelain, cotton and ivory. Westward bound galleons included soldiers and missionaries; provisions for the garrison in the Marianas; and shipments of Mexican silver. Incredible hardships were suffered by passengers and crew, particularly during eastward journeys from Manila to Mexico which took some galleons a year to complete. The ships adhered so strictly to the established route going east that they bypassed the Hawaiian Islands for over two centuries before Captain James Cook became the first European to visit them in 1798. Initially, the galleons did not stop on Guam except to take on fresh provisions. Subsequently, they stopped regularly and their arrival was the highlight of the year which was celebrated with much fanfare and joyful activities. The galleon was Guam's sole contact with the world beyond its reef except for occasional visits by ships of other nations plying the Pacific. The Manila Galleons had a marked influence on the local population culturally, religiously, and linguistically. They transported in and out of Guam many Mexicans, Spaniards, and Filipinos , many of whom made Guam their home. The Chamorro of today is a descendent of the blending of these bloodlines. This remarkable chapter in world history in which Guam played a notable role was made possible through the navigational genius of Ferdinand Magellan. Yet, for all his contributions, there are few memorials in his honor. He is included in the Hall of Explorers in Lisbon and there is a memorial in his honor in Chile. In the Phillipines, he shares a memorial with other explorers. Ironically, our island, which he disparagingly called the Island of Thieves, has the only other memorial for him in the village of Umatac. Finally, in the fabled history of the Manila Galleons, the last Galleon that sailed in 1815 which ended the remarkable 250-year saga of the Manila Galleons was named Fernando Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan). Like its namesake, it stopped on Guam for replenishment before sailing on to the Philippines and into the pages of history.

  14. #13

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons

    The Manila Galleons were Spanish galleons (a type of ship) that travelled once or twice per year between Manila in the Philippines and Acapulco in New Spain (now Mexico). Service was inaugurated in 1565 and continued into the early 19th century. The Mexican War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars put a permanent stop to the galleons. Though service was not inaugurated until almost 60 years after the death of Christopher Columbus, the Manila Galleons constitute the fulfillment of Columbus' dream of sailing west to go east to bring the riches of the Indies to Spain and the rest of Europe.

    Discovery of Route
    The Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade began when Andr?s de Urdaneta, sailing in convoy under Miguel L?pez de Legazpi, discovered a return route from Cebu to Mexico in 1565. Attempting the return, the fleet split up, some heading south. Urdaneta reasoned that the trade winds of the Pacific might move in a gyre as the Atlantic winds did. If in the Atlantic, ships made a wide swing (the volta) to the west to pick up winds that would bring them back from Madeira, he reasoned that by sailing far to the north before heading east, he would pick up trade winds to bring him back to the west coast of the New World. Though he sailed to 38 degrees North before turning east, his hunch paid off, and he hit the coast near Cape Mendocino, California, then followed the coast south to Acapulco. Most of his crew died on the long initial voyage, for which they had not sufficiently provisioned.

    Spice trade
    The trade served as the fundamental income-generating business for Spanish colonists living in Manila. A total of 110 Manila Galleons set sail in the 250 years of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade (1565 to 1815). Until 1593, three or more ships would set sail annually from both ports. The Manila trade was becoming so lucrative that the merchants of Seville petitioned Philip, complaining of their losses, and secured a law in 1593 that set a limit of only two ships to sail each year from either port, with one kept in reserve in both Acapulco and Manila, to control the trade with the exception of an armada, an armed escort. With such limitations, it was essential to build the largest possible galleons, which were the largest wooden ships ever built in Spain. In the 16th century, they averaged from 1,700 to 2,000 tons, were built of Philippine hardwoods and might carry a thousand passengers. The Concepcion, wrecked in 1638, was the largest Spanish ship built up to her time - between 140 and 160 feet long and displacing some 2,000 tons. Most of the ships were built in the Philippines and only eight in Mexico. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade ended when Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, after which the Spanish crown took direct control of the Philippines which became manageable in the mid 1800's upon the invention of steam power ships and the opening of the Suez Canal that reduced the travel time from Spain to the Philippines to a 40 day period.
    The galleon carried spices transshipped from the Spice Islands to the south and porcelain, ivory, lacquerware and processed silkcloth from China and Southeast Asia, to be sold in European markets. Until Japan closed its doors in 1638, there was some trade with Japan as well. The cargoes were transported by land across Mexico to the port of Veracruz on the Caribbean where they were loaded onto the Spanish treasure fleet bound for Spain. This route avoided the long and dangerous trip across the Indian Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope, a route that was barred by the Dutch, once they were in control of the Cape Colony. The Spanish knew that the American continent was much narrower across the Panamanian isthmus than across Mexico. They tried to establish a regular land crossing there, but the thick jungle and malaria made it impractical.
    Europe longed for Chinese wares, but China was quite self-sufficient. The only product that Chinese markets really sought was the American silver from Zacatecas and even from Potos? which would be shipped to Acapulco to be transshipped to Manila. It is estimated that as much as a third of the New World silver was going directly to China by this route. It took four months to sail across the Pacific Ocean from Manila to Acapulco, and the galleon was the main link between the Philippines and the viceregal capital at Mexico City and thence to Spain itself. Many of the Spaniards in the Philippines were actually of Mexican descent. In fact the Hispanic culture of the Philippines is strongly resembles of Mexican culture. Even when Mexico finally gained its independence, the two nations still continued to do trade except for a brief lull during the Spanish-American war. The Manila galleon continued to build the economy of Spain in the Pacific region continuously bringing its rich culture and diverse knowledge in Latin America and other parts of the world (notably Portugal and Spain) which was possible through the Manila galleon sailing across the Pacific for almost three centuries.
    The wrecks of the Manila galleons are legends second only to the wrecks of treasure ships in the Caribbean. In 1568, Legazpi's own ship, the San Pablo (300 tons), was the first Manila galleon to be wrecked en route to Mexico.
    Other names: Acapulco Galleon, Nao de China.

  15. #14

    Apr 2005
    2 times

    Re: Manila galleons


    I always find your postings of interest, but it would help me, at least, if you quoted the source of the material that you are posting. I have just finished reading a book about Magellan, "Over the edge of the world" by Laurence Bergreen, published by Harper Collins in 2003. He really brings out how close to disaster these early expeditions came time and time again. No wonder there are so many shipwrecks for us to look for.


  16. #15

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons

    One was from this link, there is some interesting stuff there.

    The other I do not have the author's name, and I do not remember where I got that data from

    Michael Collins

  17. #16

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons

    The following link has some is worth a read some very interesting information,


  18. #17

    May 2005

    Re: Manila galleons

    The Wreck of the San Agustin

    By Land ~ Sea Discovery Group Staff

    Sir Francis Drake
    Manila was discovered in 1571 by the Spanish explorer Magellan during his famous trip around the world and the city was developed as a colonial outpost for the Spaniards.

    The Manila galleons, as they came to be known, would sail from Acapulco, Mexico usually in December and would take roughly 8-10 weeks to arrive using the trade winds. Officially the commercial traders were allowed to send two ships per year of 300 tons each carrying no more then 200,000 pesos of silver between them. The traders wanted very much so to do more business with the Manila sea port because they could profit by six times their investments. The silver was traded for Oriental silks, clothing, porcelain, and other valuable things not so readily available in Europe where they commanded high prices. The porcelain was as valuable as gold. The Spanish government tried to restrict the trade because they wanted the silver pesos in Spain, but as in most cases where peoples are restricted, the merchants simply found ways to bribe ship captains and port officials to load on more silver. Most ships actually carried two million pesos! The captains alone could receive as much as 40,000 pesos in goods and gifts for his part in the adventure. By the end of the century 3-5 million pesos a year were being funneled from the mines in South America, to Acapulco, and finally on to Manila to be traded.

    In the late 1400's the Pope had decreed that the Spanish had the jurisdiction over the Pacific Ocean and until Sir Francis Drake came into the picture in 1578 the Spanish had a free run of the sea. Drake an English captain ravaged the ships he encountered on the Pacific coast. King Philip II of Spain decided that he needed the coasts of Alta California charted so suitable harbors could be found and the Manila galleons would have a safe haven from privateers and stormy seas.

    King Philip II chose as the man for the task, the diligent and determined Sebastion Cermeno. Cermeno sailed his own ship the San Pedro to Manila. It was a harrowing trip and Cermeno, a skilled navigator and excellent leader, determined the San Pedro would not be up to the challenge of crossing the Pacific Ocean. He proceeded to make arrangements for leasing another ship called the San Agustin and securing the finest crew he could assemble to chart the new lands of upper California. He was a very determined man that wanted nothing to go wrong.

    The San Agustin left Acapulco on July 5, 1595 for Acapulco. She was laden with a cargo of silks, porcelain, and gold. The ship sailed in a northeast direction until like others before they reached the latitude of 35 degrees north and the westerly winds carried them towards Acapulco. The ship arrived in the new world battered and leaky from the stormy voyage. The ship loaded with 150 tons of treasure rode low in the water and the men were forced to spend two out of three watches manning the ships' pumps. The crew was very concerned about the condition of the ship and petitioned the captain to sail on to Acapulco instead of taking the time to chart the coastline.
    The ship arrived at the coast near Cape Mendocino and sailed south until they spotted a high ridge jutting way out into the ocean far beyond the general line of the coast. As they sailed around the ridge they entered a protected bay that had a river flowing into it with plenty of fresh water to take on. This bay is known now as Drakes Bay and little did the Spaniards know that some years earlier Drake was afforded shelter in the same bay.

    A wrecked ship
    Cermeno against the wishes of his almost mutinous crew anchored off the entrance of the estero from which the fresh water flowed. The crew assembled a launch they brought with them from Manila called a vicoro, basically a dugout log with planks on the side. They set up a camp on the beach and the San Agustin rode easy at anchor in the bay protected from northwesterly winds. The men explored the esteros and camped at the beach for nearly three weeks. During this time they had encounters with very friendly Indians called Coastal Miwok. They traded and sampled the native foods.

    In November a gale came from the southeast and ripped the San Agustin from its moorings. The harbor did not afford protection from the southerly winds. On the beach the already dismayed crewmen watched with disbelief as the ships hull hit the sandy bottom in the shallow water and wallowed helplessly. The ship was then pounded by great breakers into pieces. Two men drowned and the rest of the men were left on the beach, in a foreign country, with only the clothes on their backs. Cermeno and his crew managed to salvage some supplies and a couple bales of silk that was left stacked on the beach to be picked up at a later date, which never occurred.

    Dedicated Cermeno was left with but three choices now. 1. Settle in and take up living with the Miwok until another ship happened by. 2. Walk down the 1500 miles of coast to the nearest Spanish outpost. 3. Gather up his men and using the launch sail to Acapulco. Perhaps Cermenos dedication and perseverance to his king's commission saved all of his crew, for he decided to forever abandon the San Agustin and its treasure and head for Acapulco in the launch. 76 men and a dog crammed in the vicoro and headed south. The men gathered up acorns, seeds, and fruits to eat on the journey as well as a few silks to trade with along the way. As he left the bay Cemeno entered in his log the name of the coastal indentations Point Reyes and Point San Pedro. In the coming days of fog and merely taking on the tasks of surviving the crew completely missed the greatest natural harbor in the world, San Francisco Bay.

    Cermeno and his men who still were angry with him, arrived in Mexico in January of 1596. Not a man was lost on the arduous journey.

    In 1941 and in 1952 archeologists from the University of California uncovered Indian graves that contained iron rods and over 50 spikes characteristic of Spanish galleons of the period. They also discovered 125 porcelain pottery shards from the orient. One can almost picture the Miwok sleeping on fine silks and eating acorns out of fine china.

    The San Agustin had been anchored in seven fathoms of water when it broke away and headed for the beach. It's been said the San Agustin carried $500,000 in treasure aboard from the silks and gold, to the blue Chinese porcelain of the Wan Li and Chai Ching varieties. In all the abandoned treasure not recovered was over 130 tons. All the heavy cargo and cannon have sunk deep to the bottom. Recently at an auction house in Amsterdam similar china was sold in over 1000 multiple lots for over 7 million dollars.

    The Point Reyes Peninsula is a natural hazard to ships and since the San Agustin, one of its first wrecks; there have been over 50 ships that have piled up on the beaches in this vicinity.
    If you feel inspired to go in search of the San Agustin or any shipwreck might I suggest a good reading called Complete Wreck Diving, by Henry Keatts and Brian Skerry. The book will take you from research to cleaning your finds.
    Be sure to also check federal and state laws regarding shipwreck diving or artifact recovery in the area you're searching

  19. #18

    Sep 2005

    Re: Manila galleons

    thanks for the reply. I am argeting the Sabta Marta which had 200 tons of treasure when it went down. Do you think it is worth looking for. Documents said it sank near the shore of catalina island. But catalina is pretty deep and I couldn't dive the wreck.

  20. #19
    Charter Member

    Oct 2004
    N. San Diego area (Pic of my two best 'finds')
    Minelab Explorer
    1364 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Honorable Mentions (2)

    Re: Manila galleons

    Have you thought about what you'd do if you found her? Have you contacted the State Land's Commission, the California Coastal Commission, the people in charge of the Manine Sactuary that may surround the island or the myriad of other authorities that, no doubt, will have a keen interest in what you (and they) do after the discovery?
    Chisos likes this.

  21. #20
    Charter Member

    Oct 2004
    N. San Diego area (Pic of my two best 'finds')
    Minelab Explorer
    1364 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Honorable Mentions (2)

    Re: Manila galleons


    Tell me I'm wrong, but it sounds like you wish to do an illegal activity. If so, I'm not the person to ask for information. If you're still serious about your intentions, I hope you first contact the USCG and ask about their regular patrols in that area with their boats, cutters and aircraft; then inquire about the fines and possible jail time that can be 'awarded' for stealing galleon artifacts from those waters.


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