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The first European explorer to sight the Humboldt Coast was probably Francis Drake in 1579. Drake, having entered the Pacific Ocean through the Straits of Magellan in 1578, cruised the coasts of Peru and Panama. After plundering several Spanish towns and capturing the Manila galleon, he sailed his ship, Golden Hind, northward. When off the coast of North America near 43°, the cold and adverse winds which accompany the Japanese Current forced Golden Hind toward the continent, and Drake anchored his ship in a "bad bay." [3] This anchorage being exposed to "many extreme gusts and flawes," and at times enveloped in the "most vile, thicke, and stinking fogges," Drake determined to seek another bay farther south. Utilizing information found on Robert Dudley's manuscript chart, first published in 1630, George Davidson, who has made exhaustive studies of Drake's voyage to the Pacific, concluded:

Drake was twelve days, with presumably favorable winds and moderate weather, sailing along the coast by day, and laying to at night; full of anxiety, and keenly alert to find a convenient harbor where he could heave down his vessel and stop her leaks, as well as lay in a fresh store of provisions and water. The coast he traced is bold, compact, and nearly straight between controlling headlands; and to the southeastward of Crescent City Reef . . . is almost free from dangers except those close in shore. Drake could thus safely reconnoitre the shores at a distance of two or three miles, except at Blunt's Reef off Cape Mendocino. Under Trinidad Head . . . he would be attracted closer in shore by the prospect of a harbor, and by the low, sandy and retreating shore, with retreating hills to the eastward and southeastward. From the masthead he may have seen the extensive waters of Humboldt Bay. In the stretch between Trinidad Head and Cape Mendocino, the discolored waters passing through the clear ocean waters would indicate the existence of rivers or bays; but Mad River, north of the Bay, and Eel River, to the south of it, do not offer any well defined marks to betray their entrances to the navigator. [4]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004