Sir Francis Drake Sets Off on his Circumnavigation – 13 December 1577

On this day in history, 13th December 1577,  Sir Francis Drake finally left Plymouth with his fleet of five ships on a journey which would see him circumnavigating the Globe. Storm damage to two of his ships had scuppered earlier plans.

The purpose of this journey was to sail into the Pacific and raid the Spanish colonies there. It was a secret mission authorised by Queen Elizabeth I and investors of Drake’s mission included the Queen, Sir Francis Walsingham, William and George Wynter, Christopher Hatton and John Hawkins.

Only one ship, “The Pelican”, made it safely to the Pacific, arriving there in October 1578. As a tribute to its success it was renamed “The Golden Hind”, after Sir Christopher Hatton’s coat of arms. Drake the sailed along South America’s Pacific coast, plundering towns and Spanish ports, and capturing Spanish ships laden with gold, silver and jewels. In June 1579, Drake landed just north of Point Loma (present day San Diego, California), which was Spain’s northernmost holding in the Americas. He claimed it for England in the name of the Holy Trinity and called it Nova Albion, “New Britain”. He then turned south and made his way back home, arriving in England in September 1580. He was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Globe.

4 thoughts on “Sir Francis Drake Sets Off on his Circumnavigation – 13 December 1577

  1. Considering what those ships were like, I would not have wanted to sail on one in 1519 or 1577. Their navigation knowledge and the storms would have made for a very uncomfortable voyage. Heaven help you if you were seasick.

  2. A very brave and dangerous adventure to set off on. I bet Drake and his crew experienced many challenging feats on their quest, and some wonderful sights beyond what they could have imagined too. What a group of courageous men.

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