In Drake's Wake
Discoveries and highlights of being "In Drake's Wake"
The following revelations are compiled since 1983 and are based upon
exhaustive research into all the primary sources and field studies.
They were substantiated by Raymond Aker.
All images © Michael Turner
1997-2006 except where otherwise noted.
Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands
Hawkins and Drake departed, they watered two leagues away. Only
from the Spanish sources lodged in the Las Palmas Museum, did I
learn that this anchorage was in fact, barely one league away to
the north, off Bufadero valley.
"Adessia Bay", Tenerife
This was the next
anchorage, which again, no author has located. Studies in the
Las Palmas Museum proved that this was Adeje on the SW side of
Pampatar, Margarita Island, Venezuela
and Drake amicably traded with the Spaniards but none of the
narratives named the port. However, the Travailes of Job Hortop
state that a mile off the island is a rock covered with birds.
Only off the deep water port of Pampatar is there a rock. This
is inhabited by pelicans.
Hawkins and Drake careened
here. Until I found the cove by discovering a contemporary map
in the Caracas archives, no Drake author had correctly stated
"Port Pheasant", Colombia
This was Drake's
first hideaway base in the New World and the first anchorage
that he named from environmental inspiration. During his
weeklong sojourn in 1572, he built a timber stockade in this
fine round Bay. Only Zapzurro cove matches the stated geography
and the site of the fort is in the north corner. This on-site
discovery rewards the academic speculation by two other Drake
- Nombre de Dios,
Drake attacked this treasure terminus at
night. If it were not for consulting American archaeologist Dean
Edwin Webster, I would not have learnt that the original site
lay 600 metres west of the present-day village. This helped me
locate the remains of the earthen fort, from where there is a
panoramic view of the site of the colonial town.
"little harbour", Colombia
After being fired at
in Santa Marta, Drake entered a little harbour twelve leagues
eastwards. No harbours exist anywhere near this distance. Seven
coves lie within seven leagues of Santa Marta. Since
Ancón Cinto is the penultimate furthest from Santa Marta,
is a far safer anchorage than the furthest cove, and has an old
trail leading inland, I purport this cove is the most likely.
Camino Real, Panamá
Drake became rich by
waylaying a Spanish treasure-train at the River Campos. This
river is not named on any map. Extensive field studies using the
primary descriptions, geographical interpretation and GPS,
revealed the ambush site to be located 2.4 miles south of Nombre
Hermit's House, Brava Island, Cape Verde
Drake paused here for water on his Atlantic
crossing during the world voyage. He found a hermit's house with
an altar of stones outside. On Drake's route, at the most
suitable anchorage on the SE shore, 12 miles from the nearest
settlement, I found these remains.
River Plate, Uruguay - Strait of Magellan,
During this leg of the voyage, Drake anchored 14
times. However, only one anchorage has retained its name. Ray
Aker compared charts and Sailing Directions with Drake's
approximate stated latitudes and geographical descriptions, to
identify tentatively the likes of Drake's: Cape Joy; Cape Hope;
Seal Bay and various unnamed havens. I covered 800 miles aboard
a 43 feet sailing yacht in the depths of stormy winter, when
Drake was here. This intimate reconstruction confirmed all Mr
Aker's plottings. Furthermore, I discovered a possible
contemporary error. Cape Joy was a seal inhabited island at the
end of an isthmus. This only matches Cape Hope, 1,000 miles
south in Argentina. Cape Hope is today's Cape Blanco that seems
to have been described out of sequence.
After examining the entire
coastline, I deduced that the creek of rocks where Drake was
ambushed by the Indians and shot in the face by an arrow was on
the north side of Point Arvejas. The islanders confirmed this.
As my hired trawler
approached the two islands, it was established that given the
prevailing wind and sea state, Drake could have only anchored on
the east side.
Drake spent 40 days here and
careened his ship. Chasoc and Medio Coves comprise the bay.
Charts show Chasoc Cove to be somewhat foul but more protected.
Field studies proved Medio Cove to be the careenage because
Chasoc Cove is too rough and Medio Cove is totally sheltered by
Rio de Loa
At Chile's longest river, Drake
famously robbed a sleeping Spaniard of silver bars. No author
has identified the place. A 17th century narrated coastal map
names the location.
Here Drake entered a house and robbed
two occupants of silver bars. Surprisingly, the ruins of the
village remain but 3 miles north of the present-day town.
Drake anchored here because
he heard that a ship was being loaded with silver. The Spaniards
had been warned. Drake arrived two hours too late. Only one
author has tried to locate Chule. Research in a Peruvian library
and contact with local historians, proved that the site of the
port village was Chule Valley, 5 miles south of Mollendo; now
high and dry, since the sea has receded half a mile.
Colorada Beach, Coronado Bay, Costa Rica
the vague English accounts and a mis-translation from the
Spanish accounts, most authors write that the Golden Hind was
careened on Caño Island. This is impossible due to the
continuous swell and numerous rocks. Spanish prisoners stated
that the ship was careened in a secluded cove, into which a
small river flowed. Such a mainland haven exists adjacent to the
island and is the only place that fits the description. It is
now called Drake.
This was Drake's final
Latin port of call on the world voyage. No author had attempted
to reveal its location. The village is included on a detailed
Mexican road map. Until 1983 it closely resembled how Drake
would have seen it when he looted the village. Now there is a
yacht marina and a high-rise hotel.
William Lessa discovered
that Drake experienced an optical illusion whilst in the Gulf of
Davao. Drake thought he saw foure
. Consequently, this has hindered reconstructing
this part of Drake's Far East track. Drake actually saw the two
islands within the gulf's two arms. Since the gulf's head is not
seen to join from the south of these islands, it gives the
appearance that one is seeing foure
. My boat excursion supported Lessa's fieldwork.
Authors including Aker
have refined the location of Drake's fortified careenage to one
of three islands NE of Bangaii Island. Using the geographical
and biological clues and by process of elimination in the field,
the small Potil Island was Drake's
The reefs were identified by
Aker. Drake ran aground on a rock in a cleft but there are two
reefs. Both are over two miles long, a mile wide and lie a mile
apart. A flight over the reefs, showed the only cleft to be on
the NE side of the west reef.
Bonanza Beach, Hierro, Canary Islands
anchored somewhere on the island's east shore en route to the
West Indies. I found the beach backed by "a valley vnder a highe mountaine,..
narrative mentions a deppe pitt
from which a hogshead of water was taken. Local inhabitants
showed me the ancient pit.
Cidade Velha, "Santiago", Cape Verde Republic
Drake captured this fortified oasis town, then called Santiago.
His cartographer drew a map. The site today is virtually
unchanged and would lend itself to a TV documentary.
Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica
anchored to provision at a wide river but its location is not
stated. I was helped by the island's author; an expert on its
history and biology. All the clues indicated that Drake used
this still most frequented and historic anchorage.
Drake captured this city
and accommodated himself in the house of the city's
highest-ranking soldier. The curator stated its location. The
multi-storied house has been authentically restored and is
opposite the cathedral.
Common, Devon, England
By visiting the owner of Sand
House at Sidbury, I learned that Drake and Hawkins leased this
land to the owner's ancestor. I was permitted to photograph the
title deeds and was the first Drake scholar to uncover this
information. Note Drake's signature at the bottom.
A contemporary narrative in
Hakluyt puts Drake's landing on the NE shore. Astonishingly,
this lee shore comprises steep cliffs, rough seas with no
landing beaches. The geography of the NW coast favours Drake's
anchorage. The narrative was either written in error or has been
- Virgin Gorda, British Virgin
Here was a confirmation and a discovery. The
primary evidence, charts and the opinion of a local expert
diver, confirmed that Drake did anchor at Gorda Sound, but first
anchored at Long Bay. Authors have only documented one
- Puerto Rico
repulse at San Juan, he anchored twice on the westernmost shore.
The most detailed narrative incorrectly states that it was on
the SW coast. Furthermore, many different place names were
referred to, one of which had been mis-translated from Spanish
to English. The place names no longer exist. I received crucial
information from the island's most eminent historian. From the
Seville archives, he had published the first known perspective
and half plan map of the west coast. This 1575 document included
all the old place names. It proved that Drake's lost anchorages
were at the Calvache and Añasco rivers. The photo is of
Anonymous Text confirms that Drake anchored on the NW shore. Due
to the island's shape the site of Drake's anchorage cannot be
ascertained. However, from a light aircraft, I was able to
match-up a contemporary sketched profile of the coastline with
the present-day configuration. Detail was so intimate that
points of erosion were evident.
First image from Paris Profiles, Bibliothèque
Nationale, Paris, Manuscrits Anglais
Nombre de Dios, Panamá
Webster found the
eroded earthen rampart on top of the hill that overlooked the
east side of the original settlement. Here and unknown to
Webster, two parts and not one of the burst cannon were found by
a farmer who was prompted to search by Webster. I found one
piece on the rampart and the larger part on top of the seaward
and lower hill, called El Morro, to where the farmer dragged it
in 1977. On the site of colonial Nombre de Dios, I unearthed
pottery shards and ships' nails from the 1590s.
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