Manilla Galleons passed up Northcoast for other options

January 21, 2007 11:00 pm

While European expeditions along the Northcoast remained rare during the 1500s and 1600s, a number of their ships did pass this way.

Most notably among them were the Manila Galleons. The ships formed a trade route that connected Acapulco and the Philippines and brought the riches of the Indies to Europe. In 1565, the Spanish discovered the Japanese Current that made their travels across the Pacific considerably easier. Sometimes as they turned south, they spotted our fog-laden Northcoast.

With English piracy in the Pacific on the rise, the Spanish decided to establish a harbor on the Northcoast that the Manila Galleons could use as a refuge.

Sailing from Manila in 1595, Sebastan Rodrguez Cermen passed into and sailed about Trinidad Bay. Afraid of rocks, however, he decided not to anchor and went south to Acapulco.

Eight years later, Sebastian Vizcano led another Spanish expedition to explore the Northcoast. Illness and poor weather prevented the expedition's two ships from fully reconning the coast.

Mapping of the northern coastline never was much of a priority for the Spanish. Though claimed by Spain, this section of California was remote – and the Spanish found themselves preoccupied with conquering South America, maintaining their colonial holds in Mexico and fending off piracy across the Caribbean and Atlantic.

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About This Series

Del Norte County turns 150 this year. To celebrate our county's storied history, The Daily Triplicate will carry an article, about the past 150 years, in each edition for the rest of the year. We continue this week with a look at the first European expeditions to the area.