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Sir Francis Drake Encompassing the World: 1577-1580

New Albion
Portus Novae Albionis
(from Hondius map of 1589)
Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake
c. 1540-1596
Francis Drake began his famous voyage around the world on December 13, 1577 with a fleet of five ships which sailed from Plymouth, England. Only his own ship, the flagship Pelican, made it around the tip of South America through the Straits of Magellan: one returned to England, and the three others were scuttled or lost. At this stage of the voyage Drake renamed his ship the Golden Hinde.

Drake first sighted the northwest coast of America on June 3, 1579. Two weeks later, on June 17, he careened his ship for repairs at a harbour he called Portus Novae Albionis (Port of New Albion). He left the harbour on July 23 and headed west across the Pacific Ocean to the Moluccas. He arrived back in England on September 26, 1580.

On April 4, 1581 Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I in appreciation of his many accomplishments highlighted by him leading only the second voyage in history to circumnavigate the globe (the first was the Magellan voyage of 1519-1522).

The harbour where Drake careened his ship is not known with certainty though the consensus pick seems to be Drakes Bay just north of San Francisco near Point Reyes. The map below shows other possible sites proposed by researchers over the years.