Discovering Francis Drake's California Harbor
 
 

 Francis Drake
 

Golden Hind

                                The Drake Navigators Guild

The Drake Navigators Guild is a non-profit research organization which brings together persons from many fields of scholarship to study the early exploration of the west coast of North America. Founded in 1949, its members and associates include practical seamen and researchers in fields as diverse as nautical history, cartography, hydrography, meteorology, ship construction, seamanship, navigation, biology, zoology, archaeology, ethnography, museology, and Chinese ceramics.

The Guild has identified the location of Francis Drake's harbor of 1579, where Drake repaired his Golden Hind and made the first English claim to the land which became the United States, as Drake's Cove in Drakes Bay, thirty miles north of San Francisco, in the Point Reyes National Seashore. It has also investigated Manila galleon contacts with the coast, including the 1595 shipwreck of Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno's San Agustin at Drakes Bay. Recently, the Guild published the behind-thescenes story of the Drake Plate of Brass hoax in California History magazine's Volume 81, Number 2, 2002.

The Guild's work is most easily accessible in its eighty-page book, Discovering Francis Drake's California Harbor. The book tells the story of Drake's voyage `round the world and his visit to California, as well as the story of the fifty years of research that established the location of his activities on this coast. The book's bibliography lists the Guild's specialized monographs that give the details of the research. The book is available for $13 in U.S. funds, postage included, from the address given below.

The Guild may be contacted at the address of its present president: Edward Von der Porten, 143 Springfield Drive, San Francisco, CA 94132-1456;
e-mail: mailto:EdandSaryl@aol.com.


                       History of the Drake Navigators Guild

The Drake Navigators Guild was formed in 1949 by a small group of professional men with nautical backgrounds. It is a non-profit organization which has the purpose of identifying the exact location of the campsite where Francis Drake spent thirty-six days repairing his leaking ship, seeing to the welfare of his men, and preparing for the long voyage across the Pacific Ocean and on to England. It also does research related to other early explorers of the Pacific Coast of North America.

The Guild membership through the years has included numerous sailor-scholars, including naval and merchant marine officers Captain Raymond Aker, Lieutenant Commander F. Richard Brace, Admiral Sir Simon Cassels, Lieutenant Matthew P. Dillingham, Captain Daniel Dillon, Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and Captain Adolph S. Oko. To this strong maritime base the Guild added specialists in nautical history, cartography, hydrography, meteorology, ship construction, seamanship, navigation, biology, zoology, archaeology, ethnography, museology, and Chinese ceramics. Throughout its history, the Guild opened its work to numerous scholars from around the world.

When the Guild began its search, the region of Drake's landing had long been established through the work of hydrographer-historian George Davidson of the U.S. Coast Survey in the late nineteenth century. In 1886 Drakes Bay was officially named by the Survey based on Davidson's work, and the designation was reaffirmed by the Chief Geographer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the successor to the Coast Survey, in 1994. That designation has appeared on official charts, maps, and coast pilots for more than a century. However, the exact location of Drake's camp at Drakes Bay had not been established.

In 1952, the Guild's Matthew Dillingham located the site of Drake's inner harbor and encampment. In the succeeding years, Guild members conducted many types of research related to that location and the background to Drake's visit to our shores. A bibliography of the key documents published by the Guild has been published in Discovering Drake's California Harbor, available from the Guild.

 
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Copyright DNG 2003-2016 - Updated: 23 May 2016