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"The Secret of the Strait"
One afternoon in September, in the year 1542, two broad, clumsy ships, each with the flag of Spain flying above her many sails, were beating their way up the coast of southern California. All day the vessels had been wallowing in the choppy seas, driven about by contrary winds. At last the prow of the leading ship was turned toward shore, where there seemed to be an opening that might lead to a good harbor. At the bow of the ship stood the master of the expedition, the tanned, keen-faced captain, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. He was earnestly watching the land before him, which was still some distance away.
"Come hither, Juan," he called to a sturdy lad, about sixteen, who, with an Indian boy, brought from Mexico as interpreter, was also eagerly looking landward. "Your eyes should be better than mine. Think you there is a harbor beyond that point?"
"It surely seems so to me, sir," answered the boy; "and Pepe, whose eyes, you know, are keener than ours, says that he can plainly see the entrance."
"I trust he is right; for this thickening weather promises a storm, and a safe harbor would be a gift of God to us weary ones this night," said the captain, with a sigh.
Since the fair June day when they had sailed out of the harbor on the west shore of Mexico, they had been following first up the coast line of the Peninsula, then of Upper California. No maps or charts of the region showing where lay good harbors or dangerous rocks, could be found in Cabrillo's cabin. Instead, there were maps of this South Sea which pictured terrible dangers for mariners - great whirlpools which could suck down whole fleets of vessels, and immense waterfalls, where it was thought the whole ocean poured off the end of the land into space. A brave man was Captain Cabrillo, for, half believing these stories, he yet sailed steadily on, determined, no matter what happened to himself, to do his duty to the king under whose flag he sailed, and to the viceroy of Mexico, whose funds had furnished the expedition.
California has ever been noted for its brave men, but none have been more courageous than this explorer, who was probably the first white man to set his foot upon its soil. As the ship approached land the crew became silent, every eye being turned anxiously to the opening of the passage which appeared before them. The vessel, driven by the stiff breeze, rushed on, almost touching the rock at one point. Then, caught by a favorable current, it swept into mid-channel, where it moved rapidly forward, until at length it rode safely in the harbor now known as San Diego Bay.
"It is a good port and well inclosed," said Juan Cabrillo, with great satisfaction, gazing out upon the broad sheet of quiet water. "We will name it for our good San Miguel, to whom our prayers for a safe anchorage were offered this morning." Then, when the two ships were riding at anchor, the commander ordered out the boats.
"We will see what kind of people these are, dodging behind the bushes yonder," said he. As the Spaniards drew near shore they could see many fleeing figures.
"What a pity they are so afraid," said Cabrillo. "If we are to learn anything of the country, we must teach them that we mean them no harm."
"Master," said Pepe, "there are three of them hiding behind those bushes."
"Is it so, lad? Then go you up to them. They will not fear you." So the Indian boy walked slowly forward, holding out his hands with his palms upward, which not only let the natives see that he was unarmed, but in the sign language meant peace and friendship. As he drew near to them an old man and two younger ones, dressed in scanty shirts of rabbit-skins, came from their hiding places and began to talk to Pepe, but, though they also were Indians, they did not speak his language. Some of their words were evidently similar to his, and by these and the help of signs he partly understood what they said. Presently he returned to the group on shore.
"They say there are Spaniards back in the country a few days' journey from here."
"Spaniards? That is impossible," returned Cabrillo.
"They say that they are bearded, wear clothes like yours, and have white faces," answered the boy, simply.
"They must be mistaken, or perhaps you did not understand them fully," said the master. "At another time we will question them further. Now, give them this present of beads and hurry back, for it is late."
That night some of the men from the ships went on shore to fish. While they were drawing their nets, the Indians stole up softly and discharged their arrows, wounding three. The boy Juan had the most serious injury, an arrow being so deeply embedded in his shoulder that it could not be removed until they reached the ship. There the padre, who, like most priests of that day, knew something of surgery, drew it out, and bound up the shoulder in soothing balsams.
On the second day of their stay in port the wind began to blow from the southwest; the waves grew rough, and Cabrillo ordered the ships to be made ready for the tempest, which soon became violent. Meantime, Juan lay suffering in his hammock, which swung backward and forward with the motion of the ship. Suddenly he heard a step beside him and felt a cool hand on his forehead.
"How goes it, lad?" said Cabrillo, for it was the master himself. "You are suffering in a good cause. Have courage; you will soon be well. Remember, you have helped to discover a harbor, the like of which is seldom found. This storm is a severe one. I can hear the surf booming on the farther shore, yet our ship shows no strain on the anchor. Good harbor though it is, I am sorely disappointed, as I had hoped it was the entrance to the strait, the strait that seems a phantom flying before us as we go, drawing us onward to we know not what." The sadness of the captain's voice troubled Juan.
"Master," he asked earnestly, "what is the strait? I hear of it often, yet no one can tell me what it is, or where it lies."
"Because no one knows," answered the captain, rising. "I am needed on deck, but I will send old Tomas to tell you its strange story."
"The secret of the strait," said old Tomas, as he seated himself beside Juan, "has led many men to gallant deeds and also many a man to a gallant death. Always, since as a lad I first went to sea, the merchants of many lands have been seeking a safe and speedy way of reaching the Indies, where are found such foods, spices, and jewels as one sees nowhere else in the world.
"My father and grandfather used to travel with caravans overland to and from India. There are several routes, each controlled by some one of the great Italian cities, but all have somewhere to cross the desert, where the trains are often robbed by wild tribes. Sometimes, as they come nearer home, they are held by the Turks for heavy tribute, with such loss that the merchants have been forced to turn to the sea in hopes that a better way might be found. It was while searching for this route that Columbus discovered the new world, and when the news of his success was brought back to Europe there was great rejoicing, because it was thought that he had reached some part of India. Magellan's voyage, however, destroyed these hopes. He sailed for months down the eastern shore of the new land, and discovered, far away to the south, a strait through which he reached the great South Sea, but then he still sailed on for nearly a year before he came to the Spice Islands and Asia.
"Now every one believes that somewhere through this land to the north of us there is a wide, deep sea passage from the North Sea [Atlantic] to the South Sea [Pacific], by which ships may speedily reach India. This passage is called the Strait of Anian.
"The great captain, Hernando Cortez, the conqueror of New Spain [Mexico] spent many years and a large fortune seeking for this water way. Four different expeditions he sent out to explore this coast: most of them at his own cost. In the second one his pilot, Jiminez, led a mutiny, murdered his captain, and afterward discovered, accidentally, the southern point of this land we are now exploring. But it was not the good fortune of the noble Cortez to discover the strait. Our captain is the next to take up the search, and may God send him success."
After a stay of nearly a week in the bay of San Diego, Cabrillo continued his voyage up the coast, sailing by day, anchoring at night. He touched at an island which he named San Salvador, but which we know as Santa Catalina. Here, by his kind and generous treatment, he won the friendship of the natives. From this beautiful spot, he sailed, one Sunday morning, to the mainland. Entering the Bay of San Pedro, he found it enveloped in smoke.
"It seems a fair port," said the commander, "but go no farther inland. Drop anchor while we can see our way. We may well call this the Bay of Smokes." The fires, they found, had been started by the Indians to drive the rabbits from shelter, so they could be the more easily killed.
Sailing on, the ships anchored off a thickly settled valley, where the town of Ventura now lies. Here, on October 12, 1542, Cabrillo and his company went on shore and took solemn possession of the land in the name of the king of Spain and the viceroy of Mexico. Here, and along the channel, the people were better-looking, more comfortably lodged and clothed, than those farther south. They also had good canoes, which the natives of the lower coast did not possess. Pushing on, the explorer saw and noted the channel islands and rounded Point Conception. From here he was driven back by contrary winds, and toward nightfall of a stormy day found himself near the little island now named San Miguel.
"We will call it La Posesion and take it for our own," said Cabrillo, "for, if we can but make it, there seems to be a good harbor here." The storm, however, grew more severe. The sea rose until occasionally the waves swept over the smaller ship, which was without a deck. Here occurred a most unhappy accident. Something about the ship, a spar probably, loosened by the storm, fell and struck the brave commander, breaking his arm. Although severely injured, he would not have the wounds dressed until, after a long period of anxiety, the two ships entered in safety the little harbor of San Miguel.
Here, stormbound, they remained for a week. When they ventured forth, they again met with high winds and bad weather. Cabrillo, who in spite of discouragements never forgot his search for the strait, pushed close inshore and kept much of the time on deck looking for some signs of a river or passage. One morning at daybreak, after a rough night, they found themselves drifting in an open bay.
"It is a fine roadstead," said Cabrillo, coming on deck, as the sun rose over the pine-covered hills. "Were it smaller, it would be a welcome harbor. We will name it from those majestic trees La Bahia de Pinos, and yonder long projection we will call the Cabo de Pinos." That bay is now called Monterey, but the cape still bears the name given it by this first explorer.
Anchoring in forty-five fathoms of water, they tried to go on shore, in order to take possession of the land, but the sea was so rough that they could not launch their boats. The next day they discovered and named some mountains which they called Sierra Nevada, and, sailing on, went as far north as about 40º. But this winter voyage was made at a great sacrifice. The exposure and hardships, following the wound he had received, were too much for even the hardy sailor Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. After weeks of struggle with storms, the ships were forced back to their old shelter at San Miguel. Here Christmas week was spent, but a sad holiday it was to the explorers, for their brave leader lay dying. Nobly had he done his duty up to the last.
"Juan," he said, to his young attendant, on Christmas Eve, "how gladly the bells will be ringing in Lisbon to-night. I seem to hear them now. They drive out all other sounds. Call Ferrelo and let no one else come but the padre." Very soon Juan returned with Cabrillo's first assistant, the pilot, Ferrelo, a brave navigator and a just man.
"Ferrelo," said Cabrillo, faintly, "Death calls me, and the duty I lay down you must take up. I command you to push the expedition northward at all hazards, and to keep such records as are necessary in order that fitting account of our voyage shall be given to the world. Will you promise me to do this?"
"I will, my master," said Ferrelo, simply. "To the best of my ability will I take up your work."
"Always looking for the strait, Ferrelo?"
On the 3d of January, 1543, the brave man died and was buried in the sands of Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel Island. His men called the island Juan Rodriguez. This name was afterwards dropped, but California should see to it that the island is rechristened in honor of the great sailor who sleeps there.
Ferrelo later succeeded in sailing as far north as Cape Mendocino and perhaps as far as 42°, but, though he kept as close to the shore as possible, he failed to discover the great bay whose waters, spreading like a sheet of silver over sixty miles of country, lay hidden just behind the Golden Gate. Near the Oregon line he was driven back by storms, and returned to Mexico, where he published a full account of the voyage.
In the town of Offenburg, Germany, there is a statue of a man standing on the deck of a ship, leaning against an anchor, his right hand grasping a map of America, his left, a cluster of bulbous roots. On the pedestal is the inscription, "Sir Francis Drake, the introducer of potatoes into Europe in the year of our Lord 1586."
While it is doubtful whether this honor really belongs to Drake, an Englishman, seeing the statue, would be inclined to say, "Is this all that Germany has to tell of the great captain who led our navy against the Spanish Armada; the first Englishman to sail around the world; the most daring explorer, clever naval commander, expert seaman, brave soldier, loyal friend, and gallant enemy of his time?" A Spaniard, on the contrary, might well exclaim, "Why did Germany erect a statue to this terrible man whom our poets call Dragontea [Dragon], this greatest of all pirates, this terror of the sea?" All this, and more, might be said of one man, who began life as a ship's boy.
At the time Drake first went to sea, England and Spain were by no means friendly. Henry the Eighth of England had ill-treated his wife, who was a Spanish princess. In addition he had drawn the English people away from the Church of Rome. These things were most displeasing to Spain, but there was still another reason for disagreement. The interests of the two countries were opposed commercially, and this was the most important cause of contention.
Spain claimed by right of discovery, and gift of the Pope of Rome, all the land in the new world except Brazil (which belonged to Portugal), and held that no explorers or tradesmen, other than her own, had any rights on her waters or in her ports. English seamen denied much of this claim, and so frequent were the disputes arising upon the subject that the English sailors adopted as a maxim, "No peace beyond the line," meaning the line which was, by the Pope's decree, the eastern boundary of the Spanish claim.
The favorite prey of the British mariners was the treasure ships carrying to Spain the precious cargoes of gold and silver from the rich mines of the new world. With the far richer ships of the Philippine and Indian trade, sailing on unknown waters, they had not, up to Drake's time, been able to interfere.
Drake, when a very young man, had joined a trading expedition to Mexico. While there the English were attacked by the Spanish in what the former considered a most treacherous manner. Drake's brother and many of his comrades were killed, and their goods taken. After the battle he solemnly vowed to be revenged, and so thoroughly did he carry out his resolution that he was for years the terror of the Spanish seamen, and, by many of the superstitious common sailors, believed to be Satan himself come to earth in human form.
Shortly after this unfortunate expedition Drake engaged in a marauding voyage to Panama, where he captured rich stores of gold and silver and precious stones. He gained such renown for his bravery and seamanship that upon coming home he found himself famous.
Queen Elizabeth knew that Spain was opposed to her and her religion, and was not in her heart displeased when her brave seamen got the better of their Spanish rivals. She received Drake privately, and help was offered him secretly from people who stood high in the government. With this encouragement he resolved to embark on a most hazardous and daring adventure. While in Panama he had seen, from a "high and goodlie tree" on a mountain side, the great Pacific, and was immediately filled with a desire to sail on its waters and explore its shores. He therefore determined to cross the Atlantic, pass through the Strait of Magellan, up the Pacific, and to plunder the Spanish towns along the coast of South and Central America, until he should reach the region traversed by the richly laden Spanish ships coming from India and the Philippines. It is said that the queen herself put a thousand crowns into this venture. One thing is certain, that he received sufficient help to fit out five small vessels, with one hundred and sixty-four men. With these he sailed from Falmouth, England, in December of 1577. With the exception of perhaps one or two of the rich men who had helped him, no one, not even his men, knew of his plans.
After a long and interesting voyage in which one vessel was lost and the others, though he did not know it, had deserted him, he found himself with but one ship beating his way up the coast of Lower California. This was his flagship Pelican, which he had rechristened the Golden Hind. It was then so laden with rich booty, that it was like a hawk which had stolen too heavy a chicken, driven this way and that by the winds, scarcely able to reach its nest.
In addition to a good store of Chile wines and foods of various kinds, there were packed away in the hold of the Golden Hind, twenty-five thousand pesos of gold, eight thousand pounds of English money, and a great cross of gold with "emeralds near as large as a man's finger." From one vessel Drake had taken one hundred-weight of silver; from a messenger of the mines, who was sleeping beside a spring on the Peruvian coast, thirteen bars of solid silver; off the backs of a train of little gray llamas, the camels of the Andes, eight hundred pounds of silver; and besides all these were large quantities of gold and silver that were not recorded in the ship's list, and stores of pearls, diamonds, emeralds, silks, and porcelain.
The last prize taken was the Spanish treasure ship Cacafuegos. Drake had transferred its cargo and crew to his own vessel and, for a time, manned it with some of his men. Its noble commander, St. John de Anton, who had been wounded in the attack, received every possible attention on the English vessel, and in the report which he afterwards made to the viceroy of Mexico, he told of the perfect order and discipline maintained on the Golden Hind, and of the luxury which surrounded its commander, who was treated with great reverence by his men.
Before sailing on to the northward, Drake restored St. John and his crew to their vessel. Then, because he feared that they might fall into the hands of his fleet (having no suspicion that the other captains had returned home), he gave the Spaniards the following letter, which shows the great Englishman to have been more honorable than he is oftentimes represented: -
"To Master Weinter and the Masters of the Other Ships of my Fleet:
"If it pleaseth God that you should chance to meet with this ship of St. John de Anton, I pray you use him well according to my promise given him. If you want to use anything that is in the ship, I pray you pay him double value for it, which I will satisfy again. And command your men not to do any harm and what agreement we have made, at my return unto England, I will, by God's help, perform, although I am in doubt that this letter will ever come to your hand, notwithstanding I am the man I have promised to be.
"Beseeching God, the Saviour of the world, to have us all in his keeping, to whom I give all honor, praise, and glory,
"Your sorrowful captain, whose heart is heavy for you,
How to get home was the problem which this daring man had now to solve. There was no possibility of returning by the way he had come. He well knew that the news of his departure had reached Spain, and that her war ships would be waiting for him, not only at the eastern entrance of the Strait of Magellan, but at the Isthmus and in the Caribbean Sea.
If by sailing northward he could find the Strait of Anian, then his homeward journey would be safe and short; but if he could not find that illusive body of water, then there was left to him but the Pacific for a highway. However, this did not daunt him, as he felt that what the Portuguese Magellan had done, Drake the Englishman could do.
Keeping well out from shore, the Golden Hind now sailed northward for nearly two months. Drake passed just west of the Farallon Islands, never dreaming of the great harbor which lay so short a distance on the other side. He traveled as far north as latitude 42° or possibly 43°, and perhaps he even landed at one point, but he failed to find the strait. According to Fletcher, the priest of the Church of England who kept a journal of the expedition, they were finally forced by the extreme cold to turn southward. "Here," says Fletcher, "it pleased God on this 17th day of June, 1579, to send us, in latitude 38°, a convenient fit harbor." This is now supposed to be Drakes Bay, which lies thirty miles northwest of San Francisco, in Marin county.
"In this bay we anchored, and the people of the country having their houses close to the waterside showed themselves unto us and sent presents to our general. He, in return, courteously treated them and liberally bestowed upon them things necessary to cover their nakedness.
"Their houses are digged around about with earth and have for the brim of that circle, clefts of wood set upon the ground and joined closely together at the top like the spire of a steeple, which by reason of this closeness are very warm. The men go naked, but the women make themselves loose garments knit about the middle, while over their shoulders they wear the skin of a deer."
These people brought presents and seemed to want to offer sacrifices to the strangers as gods, but Drake, hastily calling his men together, held divine services, "To which, especially the prayers and music," says Fletcher, "they were most attentive and seemed to be greatly affected." The Bible used by Drake in this service is still to be seen in Nut Hall House, Devonshire, England.
Presently a messenger came, saying that the king wished to visit them if they would assure him of their peaceful intentions. Drake sent him presents, then marched his force into a kind of fort he had had made in which to place such parts of the cargo as it was necessary to remove in order to careen the ship for repairing. The coming of the chief is thus described: -
"He came in princely majesty. In the fore-front was a man of goodly personage who bore the scepter whereon was hung two crowns with chains of marvelous length. The crowns were made of knit-work wrought with feathers of divers colors, the chains being made of bony substances.
Next came the king with his guard, all well clothed in connie skins, then the naked common people with faces painted, each bearing some presents. After ceremonies consisting of speeches and dances, they offered one of the crowns to Drake, who, accepting in the name of Elizabeth, allowed it to be placed on his head."
While the men were busy cleaning and repairing the ship, the commander and his officers made excursions into the interior, visiting many Indian towns and passing through wide plains where vast herds of deer, often one thousand or more, all large and fat, were feeding on the rich grasses. They also saw great numbers of what they called connies, which, from their description, must have been ground squirrels, or else some variety of animal now extinct. The country Drake named New Albion, partly from its white cliffs, which resembled those of his native land, and partly in belief that it would be easier to lay claim to the country if it bore one of the names applied to England.
"When the time came for our departure," continued Fletcher in his journal, "our general set up a monument of our being here, so also, of her majesty's right and title to the land: namely a plate nailed upon a fair great post, whereon was engraved her majesty's name, the day and year of our arrival, with the giving up of the province and people into her majesty's hands, together with her highness' picture and arms in a sixpence under the plate, whereunder was also written the name of our general."
Fletcher seemed not to know of Cabrillo's voyage, for he claimed that no one had ever discovered land in this region, or for many degrees to the south; while in fact Ferrelo with Cabrillo's ships had sailed as far north as latitude 42°, although we have no reason to think that he landed in a higher latitude than that of Point Conception and San Miguel Island.
Once again solemn religious services were held by the Englishmen on the hospitable soil that had been their home for over a month. Then they went on board the ship, accompanied to the shore by the grieving Indians, who would not be comforted when they saw their new friends forsaking them. It was near the last of July in 1579 that Captain Drake with his brave men began his wonderful homeward voyage.
It was a triumphant return they made in September, a year later. Crowds flocked to see the famous ship and its gallant commander.
Some of the queen's statesmen strongly disapproved of Drake's attack upon Spanish towns and vessels, and felt he should be arrested and tried for piracy; but the common people cheered him wherever he went, and as a crowning honor, in the luxurious cabin of his good ship Golden Hind, he was visited by the great Elizabeth herself. When the banquet was over, at the queen's command, he bent his knee before her, and this sovereign, who, though a woman, dearly loved such courage and daring as he had displayed, tapped him on the shoulder and bade him arise "Sir Francis Drake."
Galli and Carmenon
In 1584 Francisco Galli, commanding a Philippine ship, returning to Mexico by way of Japan, sighted the coast of California in latitude 37° 30'. He saw, as he reported, "a high and fair land with no snow and many trees, and in the sea, drifts of roots, reeds, and leaves." Some of the latter he gathered and cooked with meat for his men, who were no doubt suffering from scurvy. Galli wrote of the point where he first saw the coast as Cape Mendocino, which would seem to imply that the point had been discovered and named at some previous time, of which, however, there is no record.
In 1595 Sebastian Carmenon, commanding the ship San Agustin, coming from the Philippines, was given royal orders to make some explorations on the coast of California, probably to find a suitable harbor for Manila vessels. In doing so he was so unfortunate as to run his vessel ashore behind Point Reyes, and to lighten her was obliged to leave behind a portion of his cargo, consisting of wax and silks in boxes. There is only the briefest record of this voyage, and no report of any discoveries.
Almost sixty years after the voyage of Cabrillo, came a royal order from the king of Spain to the viceroy of Mexico which, translated from the Spanish, ran something like this: -
"Go, search the northern coast of the Californias, until you find a good and sufficient harbor wherein my Manila galleons may anchor safe and protected, and where may be founded a town that my scurvy-stricken sailors may find the fresh food necessary for their relief. Furthermore, spare no expense."
The destruction of Spanish shipping by Drake and other English seamen who followed his example, had caused great anxiety to the Spaniards and was partly the reason for this order.
"Send for Don Sebastian," said the viceroy. "He is a brave gentleman and good sailor. He shall carry out the order of the king." But it took time to fit out such an expedition, and it was not until an afternoon in May, 1602, that Don Sebastian Vizcaino, on his flagship, the San Diego, sailed out of the harbor of Acapulco into the broad Pacific. Closely following him were his other ships, the San Thomas and Tres Reyes.
There had been solemn services at the cathedral that afternoon. Officers and men had taken of the holy communion; and now their wives and children stood on the island at the entrance of the harbor, watching the white sails as they grew fainter and fainter and at last disappeared in the haze of the coming night.
Then the watchers returned to their lonely homes with heavy hearts, for in those days few came back who sailed out on the great South Sea. Storms, battles with the natives, and scurvy made sad havoc among the sailors.
Early in November Vizcaino entered "a famous port," which he named San Diego, finding it, as Padre Ascension's journal says, "beautiful and very grand, and all parts of it very convenient shelter from the winds." After leaving San Diego, the next anchoring place was the island named by Vizcaino for Santa Catalina, on whose feast day his ships entered the pretty little harbor of Avalon.
The Spaniards were greatly pleased with the island and also with the people, whom they described as being a large-figured, light-complexioned race; all, men, women, and children, being well clothed in sealskins. They had large dwellings, many towns, and fine canoes. What struck Padre Ascension most strongly was their temple, of which he says: "There was in the temple a large level court, and about this a circle surrounded by feather work of different colors taken from various birds which I understand had been sacrificed to their idols. Within this circle was the figure of a demon painted in color after the manner of the Indians of New Spain. On its sides were figures of the sun and moon.
"It so fell out that when our soldiers came up from the ships to view the temple, there were in the circle two immense ravens, far larger than ordinary. When the men arrived, they flew away to some rocks that were near by, and the soldiers seeing how large they were, raised their arquebuses and killed them both. Then did the Indians begin to weep and make great lamentation. I understand that the devil was accustomed to speak to them, through these birds, for which they showed great respect."
There were in the island quantities of edible roots of a variety of the yucca called gicamas, and many little bulbs which the Spanish called "papas pequenos" (little potatoes). These, the padre said, the Indians took in their canoes over to the mainland, thus making their living by barter. This certainly must have been the beginning of commerce on the coast.
Vizcaino entered and named the Bay of San Pedro. To the channel islands he also gave the names which they now bear. Sailing on, he discovered a river which he named "Carmelo," in honor of the Carmelite friars who accompanied him. The same day the fleet rounded the long cape called "Point Pinos" and came to anchor in the bay formed by its projection. From here the San Tomas was sent to Mexico to carry the sick, of whom there were many, and to bring back fresh supplies. The men who remained were at once set to work. Some supplied the two ships with wood and water; others built a chapel of brush near the beach, under a large oak at the roots of which flowed a spring of delicious water. In this chapel mass was said and the Te Deum chanted. For over one hundred and fifty years this oak was known, both in New Spain and at the court of the king, as the "Oak of Vizcaino, in the Bay of Monterey." From here Vizcaino wrote to the king of Spain as follows: -
"Among the ports of greater consideration which I have discovered is one in 30° north latitude which I called Monterey, as I wrote to your majesty in December. It is all that can be desired for commodiousness and as a station for ships making the voyage from the Philippines, sailing whence they make a landfall on this coast. It is sheltered from all winds and in the immediate vicinity are pines from which masts of any desired size could be obtained, as well as live oak, white oak, and other woods. There is a variety of game, great and small. The land has a genial climate and the waters are good. It is thickly settled by a people whom I find to be of gentle disposition, and whom I believe can be brought within the fold of the Holy Gospel and subjugation to your majesty."
This enthusiastic praise of the harbor of Monterey by a man who was familiar with the port of San Diego, caused much trouble later, as will be seen in the study of the founding of the missions.
Not waiting for the return of the San Tomas, Vizcaino with his two ships soon sailed northward, and reached a point in about latitude 42°, which was probably the northern limit reached by Cabrillo's ships and only a little lower than the farthest explorations of Drake. Although Vizcaino was looking for harbors, he yet passed twice outside the Bay of San Francisco, the finest on the coast, without discovering it. After his return to Mexico, Vizcaino endeavored to raise an expedition to found a settlement at Monterey, even going to Spain to press the matter; but other schemes were demanding the king's attention, and he would give neither thought nor money to affairs in the new world; and so, thoroughly disheartened Vizcaino returned to Mexico.
From this time for over one hundred and fifty years there is no record of explorations along this coast, either by vessels from Mexico or by those coming from the Philippines. California seemed again forgotten.
This is the story of the few voyages made to the coast of California previous to its settlement. The first, under Cabrillo, was sent out by the viceroy Mendoza, who hoped to gain fame and riches by the discovery of the Strait of Anian, and by finding wealthy countries and cities which were supposed to exist in the great northwest, about which much was imagined but nothing known.
Drake planned his voyage largely in pursuit of his revenge upon Spain, partly for the plunder which he hoped to obtain from the Spanish towns and vessels along the Pacific coast of America, and partly because of his desire to explore the Pacific Ocean.
Vizcaino also was expected to search for the strait, but he was especially sent out to find a good harbor and place for settlement on the California coast. This was intended in a great measure for the benefit of the Philippine trade, but also to aid in holding the country for Spain.