This page presents Chapters I and II from Book 2 of the author's Chronological History …. Footnote symbols (* & †) follow the original style.
Burney gives frequent footnote citations to the 1768 edition of Sarmiento's Viage al Estrecho de Magallanes, which he calls by several different names. Here, each such citation is followed by a link to the equivalent text in the Hakluyt 1895 English-language translation of the 1768 Spanish edition.
Burney's citations of the Tomé Hernandez declaration are likewise linked to the Hakluyt edition.
The Spaniards had remained in the quiet and exclusive possession of the navigation of the Pacific Ocean during a space of nearly 60 years, when they were first disturbed by the appearance of European competitors. Other maritime powers, it is true, had endeavoured to discover a navigable communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, by the North of America; and it can scarcely be affirmed, that the attempt is yet wholly discontinued. The uncertainty of the existence of such a junction did not prevent the fancied communication from being very early distinguished by the appellation of ‘the North West Passage.’ The ardour for making this discovery was most conspicuous in England, and it continued there long unabated. Three Voyages to the North West had been undertaken in the three successive years 1576, 1577, and 1578, by Captain Martin Frobisher, who discovered the Strait since known by his name, the North shore of which was then believed to be the Continent of Asia. As no termination was found to the opening discovered by Frobisher, the hopes of the English were kept alive; yet so remote and uncertain a prospect of success cannot be supposed to have occasioned much uneasiness to the Spanish settlements in the South Sea. The attempt of Oxnam had been so completely frustrated, as to leave no apprehension that other attacks would be made across the Isthmus of Darien: but the expedition of Drake, being in the established known route, was of a more formidable nature, and the Spaniards in South America were too well instructed in the influence of successful adventure not to regard it as the prelude to new enterprizes. On their part, they were not wanting in exertions, as well to avenge the injuries they had already sustained, as to provide for the future security of their possessions in the South Sea against similar invasions.
It has been mentioned*, that Don Francisco de Toledo, the Viceroy of Peru, sent Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa with ships from the port of Callao, in purfuit of Drake. This fruitless chace was continued along the coast as far as to Panama and the Englishmen had great good fortune in its being then discontinued; for the Island Canno, where Drake stopped to refit, is not 100 leagues distant from the Bay of Panama, and he did not sail from that island till the 24th of March (1579), which was twenty-three days after his capturing the rich Spanish ship. It may therefore be deemed extraordinary that during so long a stay at Canno, his ship should have escaped the observation of either Spaniard or Native, who might have carried the intelligence to Panama.
* Vol. 1st. p. 336 [ie, Burney's volume 1].
It was known in Peru, that with Drake's ship two others of the same nation had entered the South Sea; and it was believed that Drake wonld bend his course homeward by the Strait of Magalhanes. As soon therefore as the vessels which had been sent in pursuit of him returned to Lima, the Viceroy ordered two ships to be equipped for a voyage to the Strait, and appointed P. Sarmiento de Gamboa*, General of the expedition, with the title of Capitan Superior. The ships were the Nuestra Señora de Esperanza (which was the Capitana or ship of the Commander in chief), and the San Francisco (Almiranta), commanded by Juan de Villalobos. In the Capitana, Anton Pablos Corzo and Hernando Alonso, sailed as pilots; and in the Almiranta, Hernando Lamero. The whole number of persons embarked were 108, who were equally divided between the two iships, each of which was provided with no more than two pieces of artillery and 20 muskets: they carried with them the frame of a brigantine in separate pieces, to be set up when there should be occasion.
* Argensola says, that previous to this appointment, P. Sarmiento had twice fought with Drake; once in the port of Callao, and afterwards in following him towards Panama. Conq. de las Malucas, lib. 5. The inaccuracy of this statement appears in a letter from the Viceroy of Peru, addressed to the Governor of Rio de la Plata, wherein the Viceroy writes, ‘with great diligence we sent two ships in search of this Corsair, but the sea is so wide and he sailed with so much expedition, that he could not be taken.’ Carta del Virrei, &c. published with Viage al Estrecho por P. Sarmiento de Gamboa, p. lxxx. [p. 3 in Hakluyt edition].
The account of this voyage will be found rather barren of incident; but the geographical information it communicates is of importance, and the methods of navigating and keeping a ship's reckoning in Sarmiento's time, are more clearly seen in his journal than in the journal of any other navigator which has been published.
The objects of the expedition, as expressed in the instructions delivered to P. Sarmiento, and likewise in a letter written by the Viceroy of Peru, for the Governor of Rio de la Plata, were to make a careful examination of the Straits of Magalhanes, to endeavour to discover all the entrances that led into it from either Sea, with the breadth of the channels, and depth of water: To obtain every other information which circumstances would permit respecting the Navigation, each ship being, particularly directed to keep a careful account of the courses navigated, and to mark all the coasts, and lands discovered, on a chart. The journal or diary of the proceedings were to be publicly read every day in the presence of the officers and pilots who were required to remark if it appeared to them that there were any omissions or mis-representations; and each ship was ordered to keep four copies of her journal.* All the places in the Strait which appeared convenient for a settlement, or which might be fortified as stations for guarding the passage, were to be noted. Search was to be made after Drake, and, if found, the Spanish, ships were to use their utmost endeavour to take him, and their success was to be liberally rewarded both from the recaptured booty, and by other gratifications which the instructions promised. If other Corsairs were met with, they were to be attacked or not, as should appear most convenient. If any town, or settlement was discovered in the Strait belonging to the English, or to any other foreign nation, all circumstances of their Situation and strength were to be observed and noted. If both the ships arrived in company at the entrance into the North Sea (‘Mar del Norte’), the Almiranta was to be sent back to Lima if the winds allowed of her return; if otherwise, she was to make for the Rio de la Plata, to deliver to the Governor of that place copies of the journals, one to be forwarded by him to Spain, and another by land to Peru. Sarmiento was to sail with the other ship to Spain, to lay before his Majesty and before the Supreme Council of the Indies, all the information he should have obtained, that his Majesty might be enabled to order such measures as should effectually bar the passage of the Strait against the vessels of other nations. If the ships were at any time separated by weather or other accident, the commanders were ordered, notwithstanding such separation, to continue their endeavours to accomplish the purposes of the equipment. Whenever it could conveniently be done, possession was to be taken of the countries in the name of the king of Spain; and observations were to be made on the soil, the produce, and oa the customs of the natives, some of whom were to be taken and carried away in the ships, that knowledge might be acquired of their language.
* One of the journals so kept, is preserved among the MSS. in the royal library at Madrid, and was published in 1768, under the title of Viaje al Estrecho de Magallanes, por el Capitan Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, en los anos 1579 y 1580. The Editor remarks in his preface, how great would have been his satisfaction if he could have given to the engraver the Sea Charts made by Sarmiento; but his greatest diligence could not discover their retreat. He thinks it probable that they were lodged in the Casa de la Contratacion at Seville, or in the Archives of the Convent of San Francisco al Cadiz, where are deposited, or, more properly speaking, buried, the journals, observations, and original Charts, of the ‘most famous Voyages and Discoveries of the Spanish Navigators.’
The instructions throughout are drawn up with great attention to all minute particulars, and they certainly deserve the character of having been dictated with ability.
On the 11th of October, 1579, the two ships sailed from the port ot Callao. Sarmiento appointed for the place or rendezvous, in case of separation, the first safe port that should be found within the entrance of the Strait of Magalhanes, and either ship on arriving there singly, if she found no indication of the other ship, was to wait 15 days, making signals from the land during that time, and was afterwards to proceed Eastward, leaving notices in the different ports where she should chance to touch.
The 17th, they anchored at Pisco, to repair some defect in the Capitana. At this place they took on board four seamen, in addition to their former number. The pay of the seamen employed would appear extraordinary for that age, if it did not enter into the consideration that the ships were fitted out from Peru. To three of the men engaged here, the customary wages were given; and one, who was a caulker, received the advantage of being paid as a man and a half, which is 37½ proof pesos (pesos ensayados) each month.*
* The pay of the seamen was accordingly, per month, 25 pesos, equal in value to £. 5. sterling.
The 21st, the ships sailed from Pisco, towards the South West, with winds from the South East quarter. The journal contains a regular account of the navigation of each day, and the day is reckoned as at present, from noon to noon. The run of each hour is not separately specified; but the different courses steered, and the distance sailed on each course (a few instances of omission excepted) with the winds, are set down in a summary manner, in divisions regulated by the times when any alteration of course or of wind occurred. The latitude is set down whenever found by observation, and generally, at the same time, the estimated course and distance made good since the observation preceding; with the estimated distance of the ship at noon from some port or station on the American coast; and sometimes the distance from the meridian of Lima.
Such a journal is in form a near approach to the present method of keeping a Reckoning: but all the means of correct computation appear to have been out of reach. In observing for the latitude, Sarmiento and the pilots generally differed from each other more than half a degree; the distances sailed were not measured, but marked from conjecture; and, what is extraordinary in an experienced seaman, it appears to have been disbelieved by Sarmiento that the needle had any such property as variation; all the courses and bearings by compass being received as the true bearings.
The character of this journal will appear in the following, extracts:
‘Thursday, October 22d. It was calm all day, and towards night we were near the island Sangallan, which is in 14 degrees South. Two hours after night-fall the wind sprung up from the SSE, and we stood to Seaward SW, all the night, and till Friday noon, having sailed according to our judgement 12 leagues [12 leguas por el arbitrio.].
‘Friday, October 23d, from noon we sailed WSW till night, 6 leagues. This day the arms and accoutrements were distributed. The whole night we sailed SW a little Southerly, 8 leagues by conjecture [ocho leguas por fantasia.}
Another extract from the journal:
‘From Monday to Tuesday at noon, the 27th of October, with moderate winds from the SE and SSE we steered on courses from SW to SSW. The sky was clear, and the sea smooth. We observed this day the latitude; Pedro Sarmiento, in 19° 22' S; Anton Pablos, in 19° 50' S; Hernando Alonso, in 19° 05' S, according to which, from Monday noon to Tuesday noon, we have gone SW b S 28 leagues. The currents have set to windward in our favour (to the South). We are this day East and West with the River of Juan Diaz, distant 140 leagues. For this Sea, we saw but few fish; and of birds, we saw some white boobies. Hailed the Almiranta to ask her pilot what latitude he had made; and he answered that he had not taken the Sun this day, though tee weather was fair for so doing. Pedro Sarmiento reprehended him for his negligence, and ordered that hereafter he should not omit to observe for the latitude on every day that the sky was clear enough for that purpose.’
The care and attention observable in this journal deserve commendation. It has been censured for being prolix, and (with more reason) for magnifying the hardships and dangers that were encountered,. Almost every escape is represented as miraculous, and the exertions of the Spanish seamen as super-natural: these representations, with the frequent recurrence of pious ejaculations, occupy much room in the journal. There appears, likewise, an ambition in Sarmiento to imitate the actions, and to emulate the fame of Magalhanes: speeches of the officers and pilots endeavouring to dissuade him from proceeding farther, are entered in the journal, with his answers declaring his resolution not to abandon the work he had undertaken; and this species of affectation is continued after the difficulty had been so far conquered, that to proceed was become more easy than to return. In many other respects, the length of his remarks are advantageous; and it may be fairly observed, that very few sea journals of the present day, if like this they were published in the state they were written, would be found less charged with remark of little moment.
November the 1st, they passed within 18 leagues, by their reckoning, to the West of the islands San Felix and San Ambor; but did not see them. It is a curious circumstance, that Sarmiento and his officers knew so little concerning the first navigation across the South Sea, as to suppose that these islands were the Desventuradas of Magalhanes.
In latitude 33° South, being then by the reckoning 140 leagues to the West of the meridian of Lima, the winds became variable, and the course was inclined towards the land; but at the same time with so Southerly a direction, that they did not regain sight of the American coast till they had passed the 49th degree of South latitude. Complaints are made in the journal of the conduct of the Almirante* in this passage, charging him with an intention to separate.
* Almirante was the title of the officer second in command, as Almiranta was of the ship commanded by him. The name is derived from the Saracens, as is our word Admiral from the Spanish Almirante. Mir. An abbreviation of Emir, which signifies in Arabic, Chief, Prince, and Commandant. The Persians and Turks frequently use this abbreviation. Al is the Article The D'Herbelot. Bibliotheque Orientale. In the time of the Crusades, it signified a Cormmander by land, rather than a Naval Commander, or perhaps applied indifferently to either. The Turks lost on this occasion thirty-two Admirals (so were called their men of the greatest renown and distinction) and 7,000 carcasses were found in the field.Ricardi iter Hierosolym. apud Gale. Hist. Angl. Scrip. Vol. II. p. 360. See also Spelman of Admir. Jiurisd wherein is the following quotation. ‘N. Trevet saith, that in the great ship of the Saracens, which he calleth a Dromond, taken by K. Richard I. there were seven Amirals.’
The Spaniards made the title peculiar to Sea Commanders, either before or in the time of Alphonso IX. King of Castile (1158 to 1214). Almirante: el que es cabdillo de todos los que van en los navios para fazer guerra sobre mar [Almirante: he who is the Chief of all those who go in ships to fight upon the Sea.] Quoted by Du Cange. Glossarium. med. Lat. T. 1. p. 169. under the word Amiralius. It afterwards became with the Spaniards the title of the second in command of a fleet.
November 17th. In the morning land was seen to the East South East, towards which the ships stood. At noon the latitude was observed 49° 30' S: by the observation of the pilot H. Alonso 49° 09' S. A large and deep opening was seen running in to the South East, and at a great distance within, there appeared a chain of mountains covered with snow. This bay or gulf, the General named de la Santissima Trinidad. The land forming its Southern coast was steep and rocky, and near the shore were many rocks above water: on its outer cape was a mountain which had three peaks, for which reason the Cape was named de Tres Puntas. All the land near the coast had a rugged and broken appearance.
After a short consultation with the Almirante, the ships steered for this opening, with the intention to examine if it would lead to the Strait of Magalhanes. As they stood in, they sounded, but no bottom was found with mucb length of line, till they drew near to the shore on the Southern side, where the Capitana anchored in 30 fathoms, 5 leagues within the outer capes; but the bottom being foul, she could not remain at this anchorage, and both the ships ran nearer to the South shore, where they anchored in 20 fathoms, the bottom rocky, and their situation exposed to winds from the North West; but the coast was bold [steep] and clear.
The 18th. The General and the pilots went with the boats, in different directions, to search for a safe port. The General found a tolerable good harbour (Puerto razonable) to the South East; but the pilot of the Almirante did not return in time for the ships to be moved that day.
The next morning the wind blew strong from the North, which being directly on the nearest shore, rendered it dangerous to get under sail. In this situation, the Capitana parted from her anchors, and was nearly driven on the rocks, but her other anchors held her. The remainder of the 19th, and all the following day, the ships continued in the same situation, and in great danger, the gale not abating.
The 21st, the pilot, H. Alonso, was sent to examine if there was sufficient depth of water for the ships within a small island near the land to the South of them; and between the larger land and this small island, a narrow port was discovered, with anchorage at 5 fathoms depth, into which the ships were taken, one after the other, and within was found good shelter. This port was named Nuestra Señora del Rosario. The anchoring place they had quitted was named by the seamen * Cache Diablo.
* Cache, signifies a box on the ear.
Sunday, the 22d. Sarmiento with the greater part of his people went on shore, and erected a cross, and took possession of the country for King Philip II. On the same day observations were made with three astrolabes, which gave for the latitude 50° South.* Footsteps of people were seen, and some spears, paddles, and fishing nets were found, but no natives appeared. Sarmiento went with some of his men to the summit of a hill, from whence he saw many other harbours and arms of the sea, and counted 85 islands, large and small, and the broken appearance of the land on which he stood, made him suppose it to be one of an archipelago of islands. The General determined to leave the ships in Port del Rosario, whilst with one of the boats he examined farther within the gulf.
* The latitudes in the chart are governed by the latitude of Cape Tres Puntas, as found by late observations, and by the distances and bearings given in Sarmiento's journal.
On Wednesday the 25th, Sarmiento, accompanied by the Expedition pilots Anton Pablos and Hernando Lamero, and ten mariners, with arms, and provisions for four days, departed in the boat of the Almiranta.
They followed the direction of the coast from Port Rosario, keeping near the right hand shore of the gulf, which led first towards the East and South East, and afterwards to the South and South West. In this excureion, they examined above 20 leagues of coast, within which extent were found many harbours and inlets. The geographical descriptions and remarks are much dispersed in the original journal, for which reason it has been thought necessary to collect the most material parts under one head. For the present they will be only occasionally and generally noticed.
On the 3d day from Port Rosario, they entered a harbour which was judged to be a convenient station for the ships, from whence the farther examination of the gulf and the canals communicating with it might be prosecuted in the boats. This harbour, on account of a red sandy beach withm it, received the name of Puerto Bermejo (the Red Harbour). Beyond Port Bermejo to the South Weft, was clearly difcerned a free passage to the Open sea, in which direction the boat proceeded 3 leagues farther, and then turned back towards the ships; their stock of provisions being nearly consumed.
The land by which the boat went was craggy and mountainous, but in many parts covered with wood. Among the trees seen are mentioned Cypresses, Savins, Holme, (Acebos, Carascas) Myrtles; befides which there was brush wood or furze, other herbage, and berries.
The birds seen were ‘black Geese, by some called Sea Crows’*, Penguins, Gulls, and other sea fowl, among which is mentioned and described the Tropic bird.† In the woods there were thrushes and other singing birds, owls and hawks of various kinds. By the sea shores, shell fish were found in great quantity, and in the muscles many small pearls.
* Patos negros, a que otros llaman Cuervos Marinos. Viaje por Sarmiento, p. 94 [p. 53 in Hakluyt edition].
† Rabos de Juncus. There is perhaps no similar instance to be found of the Tropic bird being in so high a latitude.
The wind, during this excursion, blew constantly from between the North and West, sometimes strong. In the return, they rowed the greater part of the way, and were necessitated, officers as well as men, to exert themselves at the oars as the only means of protection against the cold.
They rejoined the ships in Port Rosario, December the 1st; ħhe journal says ‘having gone outward and in their return more than 60 leagues, in sounding ports, channels, bays, inlets, and banks; in putting names and marking the courses and latitudes. The whole that was discovered was drawn and written by the General openly before those who accompanied him, Anton Pablos and Hernando Lamero, the pilots.’
December the 2d. Boats were sent to endeavour to recover the anchors parted from at the first anchoring place; in which they did not succeed.
The 3d and 4th, a strong gale. The Almiranta was in some danger of being driven against the rocks. Her commander, Juan de Villalobos, and several of his people following his example, sought their own safety by going on shore, where they remained till the violence of the gale was past; for which they were reprehended with moderation by P. Sarmiento.
Monday the 7th. The ships left Port Rosario, At noon they were in the channel between an island named En medio (Island in the middle) and the entrance of a wide arm of the sea (brazo ancho). In the evening of the same day, they anchored in Port Bermejo. Here the General ordered the brigantine, the frame of which had been brought in separate pieces, to be set up; but as this would be a work of some time, on December the 11th, he departed in the boat of the Capitana, which was named the Santiago, to renew the examination of the inlets, taking with him the pilots Pablos and Lamero, and fourteen seamen (soldados marineros), with arms, and provisions for eight days.
They left Port Bermejo at eight in the morning. Their first Second course was towards the South West, to Point Anunciada, and afterwards their progress was towards the South. In the evening of the first day they put into a bay which they named De San Francisco, intending there to pass the night. They had scarcely landed, when one of the soldiers shot at a bird, and immediately the report made by the gun was answered by the shouts of people on the opposite side of the bay. Sarmiento embarked again, and went thither with the boat, where he found a number of natives, whose bodies were painted. One of them, an old man, appeared to have authority over the rest. The Spaniards approached, making signs of peace, and Sarmiento gave them some gloves and a handkerchief; the pilots and seamen likewise made them presents. Some biscuit and wine was given to them: the biscuit they eat, but the wine, (not much to the Credit of the wine of Peru) after having tasted, they threw away. These gifts did not induce the natives to regard the new comers with confidence, and it is probable that the behaviour of the Spaniards gave cause for suspicion, as they were meditating how to entrap some of the natives. This part of the shore, however, was dangerous for the boat; Sarmiento therefore returned to the first landing place, and made signs to the natives to follow. Their curiosity prevailed over their distrust, and they went to the place where the Spaniards had purposed to lodge for the night. Sarmiento caused one of them to be seized and carried into his boat, and to get out of the reach of any attempts that might be made to a rescue or to revenge, he quitted the place, and went with his people and prisoner to pass the remainder of the night at some small islands, which they named la Dormida (the Sleeping Place).
The history of early discoveries exhibits many similar instances of violence committed by European navigators upon the natives of the discovered countries; yet the method practised by Sarmiento should not be suffered to pass without notice. He went to meet these people with signs of peace to invite their confidence, whilst his purpose was to deceive them. The motive for this seizure was to procure an interpreter, and to gain some information respecting the coast and country; but in both these objects they were disappointed, for their prisoner, after suffering two days of captivity, escaped, the boat being then at an island near the entrance of a canal, which was named de San Blas, about 10 leagues to the SSW from the Bay de San Francisco.
A cape, to which was given the name of Santa Lucia, about two leagues South West from the entrance of San Blas, was the farthest extent of land discovered in this second boat excursion. In the return, Sarmiento stopped at an island named by him Roca Partida, (the cleft rock). At one end of a sandy beach on the Eastern side of this island, is a large cave in a rock, wherein was found a skeleton and the furniture complete (armadura entera) of a native man or woman. Bad weather detained the boat at the island Roca Partida two days and nights. They afterwards went to a bay in the nearest Eastern land, which they named the Bay de Guadalupe, and entered an inlet, where they saw a canoe and some natives; but on the approach of the Spanish boat, the natives abandoned their canoe and fled to the hills. Near the sea shore was a low hut, built with twigs or sticks, and covered with light branches of trees and skins of seals: the furniture found within consisted of baskets, nets, fishing implements, and some red ochre, which last the natives use in anointing their bodies. Other natives were seen, but they all kept at a distance.
Thursday the 24th, Sarmiento rejoined the ships in Port Rertnejo, having been enabled, by birds, shell-fish, and herbs, to prolong his absence to 13 days.
The brigantine was not yet quite finished. Some natives had made their appearance in Port Bermejo, and the Spaniards had seized and carried one on board the Almiranta, from whence he contrived to make his escape; and the natives at this place had the prudence not to give the Spaniards such another opportunity.
As Sarmiento hoped to find a passage to the Strait of Magalhanes among the canals and broken land which appeared to the South East, he would not lose time by waiting for the brigantine, but renewed his examination, taking the boat of the Almiranta, and the pilots Pablos and Lamero, with twelve mariners, and provisions for ten days. He left Port Bermejo December the 29th.
In this expedition, Sarmiento penetrated by channels, which he discovered towards the South East and South South East, to the distance of above 30 leagues from Fort Bermeio; his farther progress was prevented by the channel which he had navigated to this extent, being found to terminate in a bay near the foot of a ridge of snowy mountains, which seemed to be part of a chain extending from North to South on the land to the East of all the canals which were discovered. This bay, the utmost limit of the discoveries made in the boat towards the South and East, is named in the charts Ancon sin salida (the bay or inlet without thoroughfare).
The return was by a different route, and a great number of channels and islands were discovered, but which did not forward the object of their examination. On a rocky island near the Northern entrance of a canal, which was named the Canal de S. Estevan, some sea otters* were seen.
* Nutrias. Sarmiento's journal, p. 156. [p. 88 in Hakluyt edition.]
Tuesday, January the 12th, Sarmiento arrived at Port Bermejo having been absent on this third excursion a fortnight, in the whole of which he had not met a single native.
The Remarks which immediately follow are entirely geographical and nautical, and will probably be interesting ordy to navigators, who may be desirous of more particular information than is contained in the preceding narrative, and for whose use they are designed. The difference of the type, as well as a notice prefixed, will show where the narrative part of the voyage is resumed.§
§ Here, these remarks are surrounded by a double-line border and displayed against a slightly darker background, as seen immediately below.
Geographical and Nautical Descriptions of the Coasts, Harbours, Islands, &c. within the Gulf de la Santissima Trinidad, and the Nautical Channels to the South. From the Journal of P. Sarmiento.
N. B. The bearings are all as taken by the compass; but they were believed to be the true bearings. The distances were set down by estimation. On comparing the charts with these descriptions, it will be seen that some small conciliatory allowances were indispensable. Wherever any material variation occurs, the case is particularly specified.
Remarks previous to the First Boat Expedition.
The outer capes which form the entrance of the Gulf de la S. Trinidad, were named Cape Primero* (the First Cape) and Cape Tres Puntas, and are distant from each other 6 [Spanish] leagues. Cape Primero is a high headland: Wen seen at a distance from the SW, it appears like an island. It lays North a little Easterly from Cape Tres Puntas. Along the outer coast to the North from Cape Primero are small islands.
* In some charts this cape is named Cape Corso, probably after the pilot Anton Pablos Corso, who wrote a relation of the voyage, but which has not been preserved.
From Cape Tres Puntas to Port Rosario, the distance is not specified: the first anchorage was 5 leagues within the outer capes, and the circumstances lead to a helief (which has been adopted in the Spanish charts) that Port Rosario is a small distance farther within the gulf.
Remarks and Observations made in the First Boat Expedition.
From P. Rosario, EbN ¾ of a league, is a point named la Calendaria: midway in this distance an inlet runs in SEbS, near the entrance of which are 23 islands.
From Point Candelaria EbS 600 paces [whether by the pace is meant a single or double step is not explained], a large harbour runs in to the South: the breadth of the entrance is not mentioned. Near the NW point of this harbour the depth is 20 fathoms, clear bottom. On the Southern land within, is a mountain; wherefore this port was named Puerto de la Morro (the Harbour of the Mountain).
From Puerto de la Morro, ESE ⅓ of a league, is a headland; from thence the coast runs SE ⅙ of a league: and SEbS; 2 leagues farther, is a mountain named Pan de Azucar, (the Sugar Loaf). Midway in the last distance a bay runs in SSW.
From the Pan de Azucar, South half a league, is a round mountain, and between these two mountains an inlet runs in to the SW, which was named Ancon del Sudueste (the South-west Inlet), with 22 fathoms depth, gravelly bottom at the entrance, near which, on the Northern side, is a small round island covered with trees; and within the inlet on the same side, and near the entrance, is a pool of still water, in which a ship may lay close to the shore moored head and stern.
From the entrance of the Ancon del Sudueste East half a league, are some small islands; and near to them, soundings at various depths from 15 to 40 fathoms. Towards the middle of the main stream of the gulf (which in the journal is called the Canal Madre, i.e. the Mother Canal) no bottom was found at the depth of 120 fathoms. A chain of rocks, some of them above water, are mentioned here, but their situation is not clearly described. In the middle of the Canal Madre, and it is said a league East of the rocks, is a small island which was named I. de En Medio, from whence a part of the open sea, without the entrance of the gulf, was seen, bearing NWbW. To the SW of the island En Medio, about a furlong distant (como un ahuste* de distancia) is a ledge of rocks; between which and the island is a channel with eight fathoms depth.
* Ahuste, a cable's length. Portuguese Dictionary.
From the Ancon del Sudueste, the coast lies SbE one league to a naked mountain: and thence SSE ¾ of a league to a point named Delgada (which signifies Slender). Beyond Point Delgada the main canal takes a Westerly direction, and in it is a chain of islands laying from each other NWbW and SEbE.
From Point Delgada, the shore runs one league SWbS, in which distance are two mountains, and to the SE of the Southern mountain is a small bay. Nearly abreast this part, in the middle of the canal, is a round island, and to the West of it are four other islands. These seem to be the chain just before mentioned. The depth near them 40 fathoms.
Three leagues farther SWbS [four from Point Delgada] is another point which was named del Brazo Ancho (of the Broad Canal). In this distance are two large openings, with soundings near them from 50 to 20 fathoms, rocky bottom: South of, and near, Point del Brazo Ancho, there is good bottom, depth from 34 to 15 fathoms.
Four leagues SWbS from P. del Brazo Ancho, is a point named Galeotilla (which signifies a small Galley), and three leagues SWbS from Point Galeotilla, is a point which was named Hocico de Caiman (the Crocodile's Snout).
On the North side of the Hocico de Caiman is a port, with anchorage from 14 to 7 fathoms. The coast continues half a league South West from the Hocico to a point of land, to the NW of which is a good harbour, within which is a red sandy beach; and it was therefore named Puerto Bermejo de la Concepcion. In this port there is secure anchorage in depth from 6 to 9 fathoms, a clear sandy bottom, where vessels may lay protected from all winds; and close to the shore is a good run of fresh water. In the mouth of the harbour is a mountainous island, by which two entrances are formed. The entrance to the North East is rendered the narrowest by a shoal which runs off from the island: the depth in this channel is 4 fathoms at low water. In the other entrance, there was 7 fathoms depth, and the deepest part of the channel was near the island.
From P. Bermejo , a continuation of the Canal Madre ran South West 6 leagues, where it joined the open sea, which was clearly seen and ascertained from the hills in Port Bermejo. This part of the main Canal, or Canal Madre, was named Brazo de la Concepcion . Another Brazo de la canal was seen, which ran in a WNW direction, and was supposed to pass through to the open sea.
From Port Bermejo South West 3 leagues, is a low point which was named de la Anunciada; and in the middle of this distance, a canal or Point arm of the sea, a league and a half wide at its entrance, runs to the WNW, which was named Brazo del Oeste (the Western Canal). [This seems to be the canal which was seen from the hills in Port Bermejo.]
It may be supposed that there were more openings in the land between Port Rosario and Point Anunciada than have been particularized; as the journal describes the coast to be much broken and pierced by canals; in each of which were seen islands.
In the first boat expedition, the Eastern coast of the Gulf was at too great a distance for minute description; but the following remarks were made:
NEbE from Point del Brazo Ancho is an opening in the opposite shore, which is 3 leagues wide at its entrance, and runs NE towards a chain of snowy mountams. This opening was likewise named del Canal Brazo Ancho. To the North of its entrance, the coast of the Gulf turns in a North Westerly direction with inlets and islands ‘more than could be reckoned.’
From the same Point del Brazo Ancho SEbS is an inlet, which was named Abra de Tres Cerros (Inlet of the Three Mountains).
From Point Galeotilla EbS 4 leagues, is an opening a league wide at its entrance, which was named Canal de San Andres. Two leagues North of this is another canal running to the North East; and to the West of its entrance, in the middle of the Canal Aladre, is a small island.
The latitudes observed within the foregoing extent are inserted at the end of the Geographical Remarks. They are to be regarded as more liable to error than any other particulars of Sarmiento's survey.
Geographical Remarks made in the Second Boat Expedition.
From Point Anunciada, the coast runs ¼ of a league SW, and thence SWbW 2 leagues, but with two small bays in that distance, to a point which was named Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia (our Lady of the Rock of France): and near the point, there is a small rock.
From Point Anunciada was seen, far out towards the sea, a high cape ‘of the land on the left,’ bearing from Anunciada SWbS a little Westerly, 6 leagues distant; this cape was named Santiago.
From Point Anunciada, SE 2 leagues, is a small island, and beyond it, a chain of 7 small islands, laying NE and SW, the whole occupying a space one league and a half in length.
From Point Anunciada SbE a little Easterly, distant 5 leagues, in the opposite shore of the Brazo de la Concepcion , is a rocky bay which was named de los Arrecifes. From the SW point of tliis bay, to the SSW, league distant, is a small island, which was named San Buenaventura (Saint Goodfortune). A smaller island NbE half a league from San Buenaventura, was named de Lobos, i. e. the Island of Seals or Sea Calves; some of those animals of very large size being seen there. Near the Isle [sic, Isla] de Lobos was found 8 fathoms depth, the bottom stony, with much sea weed; a reef or ledge of rocks extended from one to the other island. Cape Santiago bore from Lobos SWbS distant about 4 leagues. [This bearing of Cape Santiago ill agrees with the bearing taken from Point Anunciada, and places the Cape more to the South].
In the land from the SW point of the bay de Arrecifes to abreast Buenaventura Island, is a deep bay or inlet; and about a league and a half farther, is a point, and a bay which was named the bay of San Francisco. The Southern point of the bay was named Punta de la Gente (Point of the People), because some natives were seen there. To the South of P. de la Gente is another deep inlet, and the shore is much broken. SSW one league from P. de la Gente, and near the coast, are three small islands in a triangular position, which were named la Dormida: they are East and West with the land of Cape Santiago.
From la Dormida SbW 3 leagues, and from Cape Santiago SE Easterly 6 leagues, is a high mountain on an island which was named Silla (the Saddle). Between Silla and the Eastern land was found a strong current or tide running from the North, and in the channel are rocks and shoals which extend 1¼ league twards the grand canal. In the Eastern land from abreast of la Dormida to abreast of Silla is a large opening, with many small islands, rocks, and patches of sea weed. Within half a league to the NW of Silla likewise are 18 small islands; and SWbS from Silla one league, are breakers.
From Silla SWbS 2 ¼ leagues, is an island wliich was named Roca Partida, near the East side of which is good anchorage for small vessels, Half a mile from the shore, and opposite to a sandy beach; the depth is 7 fathoms, but the bottom is rocky. On the North part of the island, there is fresh water and wood. Near the NE part are rocks. The island is distant from the land to the East one league and a half.
From Roca Partida WSW 2 leagues, are two rocky islands, from wbich a range of rocks and breakers extends a considerable distance to the West, likewise to the North and NE.
From Roca Partida, Cape Santiago bears NNW; and a high headland, which was named Cape Santa Lucia, SWbS 5 leagues.
From Roca Partida towards Santa Lucia, the sea is full of small islands and rocks; and about 2 leagues before arriving at Cape Santa Lucia, in the land contiguous to it, is an opening that runs in to the SSW, which was named the Canal de San Blas; in the entrance are small islands. This inlet was examined, and no passage through was found.
ENE from Roca Partida is a bay named Guadalupe. There are two inlets in the bay; one leads to the East, and one to the North. The Northern inlet, after quitting the bay, divides into two branches; one leading Eastward; the other runs in a serpentine direction towards the NE 3 leagues, and turns short round WbS 1 league, and SW half a league, where it again meets the open sea, a league from the Bay of Guadalupe, and nearly opposite to the Island Silla.
Geographical Remarks made in the Third Boat Expedition.
From Port Bermejo 2 leagues, is an island one league in length from NNW to SSE, which was named los Iñocentes, and 4 leagues farther to the SE is a point on the Eastern shore of the Brazo de la Concepcion , which was named San Juan.
From los SSE is a large canal; and NE from the same island is another.
On the North side of Point S. Juan is a bay; and a league NE from the Point is the entrance of an inlet [in the journal erroneously supposed to be the Canal de S. Andres].
A channel, wide at the beginning, runs to the SE from S. Juan; but one league and a half from that point, the canal narrows to only 300 paces across. Behind a point on the North side is a good port, with 20 fathoms depth, sandy bottom; which was named del Ochavario (Port of the Octagon), Beyond Ochavario, the canal widens again, forming a bay on the Eastern side, wherein are islands covered with trees; and 2 leagues SSE from the narrowest part, is an island which was named de dos Canales, because by it two channels are formed; one leading to the SSE; the other SbW. A Point 3 leagues within the latter channel was named San Estevan.
The SSE canal was navigated. At the end of the first league is a point which was named San Antonio: on the North side of this point, an opening or arm of the sea runs Eastward towards the snowy mountains, and divides into various branches.
The Isle de dos Canales is about one league in extent from North to South. South of it is land intersected by channels, which join the Canal de San Estevan with the SSE Canal.
The latter was followed by the boat in a direction varying between the South and SSE. In the Eastern shore are inlets or arms of the sea leading towards a range of high mountains: and in the same shore about 11 league from Point S. Antonio, is a large bay with good anchorage, 5 to 9 fathoms, which was named Puerto Bueno.
In the middle of the SSE Canal there is great depth of water, in some parts 50 fathoms, and in other parts no bottom was found with much length of line. Several points, islands, and bays are particularised in Sarmiento's journal, which have been attended to and marked with their names in the chart annexed to this account of the voyage.
The breadth of the channel is in general about one league; but in one part it is contracted to one-third of that breadth.
In the Western shore, about l8 leagues distant from Point San Antonio is a point which projects far out, and was named Santa Catalina. The Canal is joined here by another from the NE. To the SW is a large bay; and SE from Santa Catalina, the sea is spread 4 leagues in width.
On the SW side of, and near to Point Santa Catalina is a small bay; and from that bay, SEbS 3 leagues, is a headland and mountain which was named de Año Nuevo (of the New Year). This headland Cape and extends half a league East and West; to the Eastward the shore rounds to the SE and SSE, making small bays; and about a league from the Cape, a river that descends from the mountain runs into the sea. Eastward from this river is an opening which appears like the entrance of a large canal, being 2 leagues wide, but which turns to the North, and, at the end of one league in that direction, terminates; proving to be a bay without any thoroughfare, which is expressed by the name Ancon sin Salida given to it. The sea here approaches close to the foot of the snowy mountains. In the bay are four islands, the most Western of which is nearly two leagues distant from the land of Año Nuevo.
In the coast West from Año Nuevo, within two or three leagues of that cape, are three bays. In the first there is 8 and lO fathoms depth. Near the Westernmost bay is a mountain which was named de la Oracion (the Mountain of Prayer), from the top of which was seen, to the West, a broad and strait arm of the sea running in a direction NNW and SSE; and, communicating with it, a bay, in which are 33 islands. A salt marsh only divides this arm of the sea from that which the boat had been examining; and at high tide this marsh is covered with sufficient depth of water for boats to pass over.
NW half a league from the bay de la Oracion, are small rocks, where the latitude was observed 52° S. These rocks were named Peñas de Altura (Rocks of the Latitude).
From this part, the boat returned towards the North; and thus far the discoveries made by Sarmiento in his boat expeditions may be traced in uninterrupted connection. The sequel of his account, to his rejoining the ships in Poot Bermejo, is less intelligible; some of the distances are omitted, and there appear to be mistakes in the printed copy. The journalist was at the pains of setting down all the bearings double, that is to say, of giving both the opposite points of bearing; an addition of trouble which, instead of being recompenced by any convenience, has created doubt in many cases, where with the single bearing the meaning would have been perfectly clear. Instances of this will be seen.
From the Peñas de Altura, the boat kept near the Western shore, and the first day went 7 leagues towards the North. They continued (rowing) to the North a part of the next day [neither the length of time nor distance is specificd, but as they did not sail, the distance was probably short], and then quitted the canal by which they had gone Southward, and turned into another which led Westward to an archipelago of small islands and rocks that lie spread over a space that was judged to extend 10 leagues across.
At the end of the first league in this Westerly direction, is a point on the South shore which was named Punta del Oeste (West Point). From Punta del Oeste, the shore turns towards the WSW 2 leagues to the entrance of the arm of the sea, which was discovered from the top of Mount de la Oracion.
The printed journal says, ‘from Punta del Oeste we navigated by the middle of the archipelago 3 leagues to the East,* to some islands which we named de Lobos.’ The ‘East’ here is evidently a mistake, (probably of the press) and West may without scruple be substituted, since it appears, as well in the sequel as by the part preceding, that Sarmiento was then going Westward. From the Isles de Lobos, West and WNW 3 leagues, is a knot cr cluster of many islands ‘large and small.’ The journal says, ‘From the last small island of this archipelago, NE, SW, at the distance of one league and a half, is a high cape of land, which was named Nuestra Señora de la Victoria:—seen in this direction, it has appearance of being the outermost land towards the sea.’ Cape de la Victoria consequently must be SW from the island. To the NE is a cape, which was named Nuestra Señora de las Virtudes (Our Lady of the Virtues). Two leagues WNW from the last-mentioned small island, is a bay or creek, near to a mountain which was named San Jusepe. The journal here presents another difficulty: it says, ‘Cape Nuestra Señora de la Victoria lays NbW, SbE, with Mount S. Jusepe, having between them 2 leagues clear breadth of channel: and another cape more without [towards the sea] which was named de Santa Isabel, lies with Mount San Jusepe NWbN, SEbS,† with 4 leagues of canal between. The land of Cape de la Victoria is a separate island from the land of Santa Isabel, and in the channel between them are many small islands and rocks.’'
* Viage al Estrecho, por P. Sarmiento, p. 149 [p. 84 in Hakluyt edition].
† Ibid. p. 151.
The last bearings in the foregoing paragraph must be erroneous; for otherwise Cape de la Victoria and Cape Santa Isabel must be placed to the North of Mount San Jusepe, which would contradict many positions in the preceding part of the journal. The constructors of the Spanish charts, whether from other authority or from their own judgment, have placed Santa Isabel to the South and Westward of Mount San Jusepe, and there appears good reason for following their example. It is probable that in the printed journal the bearings have been set down by mistake NWbN, SEbS, instead of NebN, SWbS.
From Mount San Jusepe, a Cape which is a continuation of the land of Cape Santa Lucia, bears WSW 4 leagues; between which and Santa Lucia there are two great bays with many small islands and rocks.
From San Jusepe the boat went to the NE about 6 leagues, by a continued length of coast, passing many small islands in that distance, to a bay which is WSW from Cape N. S. de las Virtudes. Between this bay and the Cape are two inlets with small islands; and beyond Cape de las Virtudes, another large inlet or opening leads towaids the North. From the same Cape, a Canal is open to the NE.
About 3 leagues ENE from Cape de las Virtudes, the boat took shelter from a North wind, in a Bay, near a mountain which had been seen in the progress outward, and was named Trigo, which signifies Wheat, the surface of the mountain having an appearance like a field of wheat. This bay of Mount Trigo is near the South entrance of the Canal de San Estevan, the ‘first point'’ of which lies NbW 1 league from the bay. The canal from thence runs North one league, and afterwards NbW; and is about a league wide. On the Eastern side, 2¼ leagues from Mount Trigo, there is another mountain, which was named de la Zorra (the Fox Mount) on account of a patch of snow on its SW side, resembling the figure of that animal. In the coast fronting Mount de la Zorra, is a bay with anchorage from 30 to 10 fathoms.
The observations which were made for the latitude in the course of these intricate navigations, may not be admitted to contribute towards forming a chart, except in their general results, the instruments and methods of computation of that time being so defective. It is, however, to be remarked of these observations, that they have a more just correspondence with each other than is to be found in the observations which were made at sea daring the same voyage. They are as follows:
|Between I. de En Medio, and the entrance to el Brazo Ancho||50||20|
|Port Bermejo in full||50||30|
|Island Roca Partida||51||10|
|Near the entrance of the Canal de S. Blas||51||15|
|Near Point San Marcos||51||0|
|Peñas de Altura, near Mount Oracion||52||0|
The charts of Sarmiento most probably have perished. In the Spanish Chart of the Southern part of South America, published in 1788 with the Relacion del Ultimo Viage al Estrecho, the Gulf de la Santissima Trinidad, and the channels from thence to Cape Santa Ysabel, are professedly laid down from the relation given by Sarmiento,* without assistance from any original chart. The Spanish chart of 1798 varies in some particulars from that of 1788, and on the authority of later information concerning the position of the outer coast. In the chart of 1798 is drawn the track of a ship with the date 1793. This track is at too great a distance from the coast for the purpose of a correct survey, but sufficiently near for describing its general direction. Both the charts preserve the names imposed by Sarmiento; and within the Gulf no other names are inserted than those found in his journal, nor has it been attempted to fill up parts which he has left undescribed. The most material variation between the two Spanish charts is in the positions given to the Capes Santa Lucia and Santa Ysabel with respect to Cape Tres Puntas. The earliest of the two charts, by closely adhering to Sarmiento's journal, places Cape Santa Lucia to the West of the meridian of Cape Tres Puntas. The chart of 1798, on the authority of actual observation, places Santa Lucia the Eastern of the two capes. This has been followed in the chart constructed for the present account: the latitude of Cape Tres Puntas has likewise been taken from the chart of 1708; and where the journal has appeared obscure or defective, the Spanish charts have been consulted. The variations produced: by different iuterpretations or applications of Sarmiento's text are not many.
* Ult. Viage al Estrecho, p. 168 [p. 95 in Hakluyt edition].
No account has appeared of any European having been within the Gulf since the voyage of Sarmiento, thouoh its situation may be supposed to have attracted those employed in the Southern Whale fishery.*
* It is known that they have visited the outer coast. Mr. Arrowsmith has in his possession a chart of a port on the West side of America in latitude 51° 30' S, with a sketch of the coast contiguous, which was received from a vessel employed in the Whale fishery. Many inlets are marked in it, and therein it agrees with the general character of the coast as described by Sarmiento. No soundings are laid down, and little labour seems to have been bestowed in drawing the outline of the Coast. The harbour in which the vessel anchored seems to be the Canal de San Blas. In other respects, this chart has less resemblance than might have been expected to the descriptions in Sarmicnto's journal; and it is not easy to identify any other part.
A chart constructed from the materials which have been mentioned, must present a very imperfect outline or sketch of this archipelago. The positions of particular points may be marked from description with the correctness of actual survey; but the windings or irregularities of intermediate portions of coast cannot be drawn with much pretension to accuracy by any other than an eye-witness. Groupes of islands, likewise, may be spread over the spaces assigned to them in a journal; but it most frequently happens that no other than general information is given respecting the number, their sizes, shapes, and relative positions: either, therefore, there must be omissions, or these particulars must in many instances be supplied by conjecture or fancy. Whoever with such a guide may have to approach a coast, should keep these considerations in mind, and by no means should neglect to consult the journals or written directions. In fact, it is always incumbent on the navigator, as a general precaution, to endeavour to become acquainted with the circumstances under which the chart he uses was constructed.
The length to which the foregoing Geographical Remarks have been extended will not be thought unreasonable, when it is considered that there is not known to exist any other account of this archipelago than what is furnished by the journal of Sarmiento. The whole which was examined by him to the North of the Strait of Magalhanes, is by some called the Archipelago de Chonos; Chonos, it is said, being the name by which some native tribes inhabiting that part of the American coast are known.
Narrative of the Voyage continued.
When Sarmiento returned to the ships, the brigantine was completed. During this last absence, the Almirante, Villalobos, had ordered the daily allowance of bread to the ship's companies to be increased from 10 ounces to a pound for each man. The journal accuses him, apparently with reason, of having done this with a view to the more speedy consumption of the provisions, that necessity might oblige the ships to return to Chili. Sarmiento immediately reformed this abuse, and reduced the allowance to the former establishment.
On the 17th, the General held a council, at which were present the Almirante and all the pilots. The pilots were require4 to give their opinions whether they thought it most adviseable to continue the search for a passage to the Strait of Magalhanes among the canals of the Archipelago, or to sail for the Strait by the open sea. Each of the pilots delivered separately his opinion in writing, subscribed with his name, and they are inserted in the journal. The pilot major, Hernando Laniero, remarked that two months had been expended among the canals, and therefore advised to proceed by the open sea. Anton Pablos observed, in his reply, on the dangers of storms and of a rocky coast in the outer passage; that if the coast should be obscured by the weather, they must seek for the Strait by the latitude, ‘a thing not visible to the eyes,’ and if they should not get an observation, the risk would be great: he likewise expressed apprehensions for the safety of the brigantine, if the weather should be stormy: for these reasons he advised that they should try for a passage ‘by the canal discovered on the right hand’ [by which it is probable he meant the canal discovered from Mount de la Oracion]. The advice of Hernando Alonso was, to remove the ships to Puerto Bueno, and from thence to send the brigantine to discover for them a passage to theStrait.
The opinion of the Almirante, though not dehvered in writing,is likewise entered in the journal, where it is said that he advised the leaving one ship in Port Bermejo, whilst the other went to seek the Strait: which advice helped to confirm the belief of his unwillingness to proceed in the expedition.
Sarmiento gave a preference to the advice of H. Laniero, and determined for the outer passage.
It is to be obsered, that in the progress towards the SE in the third Boat Expedition, several openings which led Eastward were passed without being entered. All the passages and channels seen could not have been examined by a single boat under a great length of time. In fact, it is not easy to point out an infallible method for ascertaining to what extent any inlet of the sea penetrates into a land. The method most obvious to be adopted, when it is determined not to admit anything upon conjecture, is, to trace from the entrance of the inlet one of the shores in a continued unbroken line in all its windings, until it returns to the sea. If the coast thus traced proves to be an island, it will be necessary to make a second experiment from the entrance along the other shore of the inlet, which likewise may prove an island, and the determination of the main question be still distant. This would frequently happen in such a maze as that in which Sarmiento was engaged. Sarmiento, however, acted upon a belief that the range of mountains to the East of the channels navigated by him, were continental land; and he thence concluded that none of the inlets which he saw to the North of the Ancon sin salida, could communicate with the Strait of Magalhanes. This point will possibly at some future period be fully investigated. Between Mount de la Oracion and Cape Santa Isabel, there is reason to expect that a passage may be found leading into the Strait; and this opinion we see was entertained by the pilots who were with Sanniento; in favour of which, the shortness of the distance, and the inlets which are known to exist in the North shore of the Strait, hitherto unexamined by Europeans, are strong arguments.
Whilst the ships were in Fort Bermejo, observations were made on shore to discover if the compass had any variation. The following singular account is given of this experiment.
In this port P. Sarmiento drew a meridian line on shore, and examined the sea compasses, and oiled, repaired, and put them in order; because with the storms and the damps they had received much damage. And let it be noticed by every one, that those which were well oiled had neither North Easting nor North Westing, but only that half point which the needles, in fluctuating, vary from the point of the Fleur-de-lis. And it is the opinion of those who are not much experienced, to affirm that there is North Easting or North Westing, although the compass be well oiled and well finished; and when there is found any error which appears to produce variation in the needle, the secret is of some other nature which admits of remedy; and it is proved not only in this instance, but by habitual experience.*
* Viage al Estrecho, por el Capit. P. de Sarmiento, p. 162 [p. 92 in Hakluyt edition]. The fact that the compass had no variation in Port Bermejo in Sarmiento's time, is in a great measure confirmed by observations of later date taken sufficiently near to the same place. Sir John Narborongh observed the variation in the Western entrance of the Strait of Magalhanes in 1670, to be 14° 10' Easterly; and Capt. Wallis, in 1767, found the variation there 23° East, which shows an increase of one degree in eleven years. In December 1793, the variation was observed in sight of Cape Tres Punta 20° 30' East. Admitting the rate of increase in the Gulf de Trinidad to have been the same as at the entrance of the Strait, the variation there at the time of Sarmiento's voyage must have been very small. It is, however, extraordinary that Sarmiento, who had been practised in long navigations, should have been so ill informed on a point at that time so well established as the variation of the needle.
Thursday, January the 21st. The two ships, with the brigantine, which was navigated by the pilot H. Alonso and seven other men, left Port Bermejo. The wind was from the NW, and as it was observed generally to be from that quarter. About the point of Santiago, the Capitana took the brigantine in tow, and kept close to the wind to avoid being near the shoals and rocks of La Roca Partida which are many and extend far out. As night came on, the wind veered more Westerly, blowing from the WNW. The Almirante dropped astern, and did not keep to the wind so well as the ship of the Commander in chief, and it was apprehended that she would not be able to weather Cape Santa Lucia. The Capitana shewed lights which at first were answered, but the ship of Villalobos continued visible only a short time after it became dark, and it was believed that he had stood back towards Cape Santiago or for Port Bermejo. The remaining part of the night was spent by Sarmiento in standing backwards and forwards on different tacks; but during that time the gale increased, and the people in the brigantine called out that their vessel was sinking, and desired to be taken on board the ship. The sea being high rendered it dangerous for the brigantine to be drawn alongside, but by means of ropes with buoys or planks fastened to them, and such other assistance as could be given, the people quitted the brigantine and were taken into the ship, one man excepted who had belonged to the Almirante, who missing his hold, was drowned. The brigantine was then cast loose.
Friday the 22d. The gale continued the whole of this day, veering between the North and the West. The ship was kept close to the wind, sometimes on one tack, sometimes on ther other; and no land was seen.
Saturday the 23d. Early in the morning, land was seen to the East, with many rocks and breakers near it, not more than two leagues distant from the ship. This land was supposed to be an Island, and named Santa Ines. The wind dying away, they were in some apprehension of being thrown by the swell of the sea upon the rocks; but a renewal of the breeze enabled the ship to clear and pass within a Cape of Santa Ines, which was named Cape Espiritu Santo, and which by the reckoning of Pedro Sarmiento, was South, distant 18 leagues from Cape Santa Lucia. A broad clear channel appeared leading towards the South East; and the ship, after sailing two leagues within Cape Espiritu Santo, anchored in 15 fathoms, in a Bay which was named Port de la Misericordia.
It was late in the evening when they entered the port, and they had anchored in the outer part. In the night the weather became stormy, and they were so straitened in their situation, that they could not venture to move the ship, but were obliged to remain eight days at an anchorage badly sheltered from Northerly winds, which blew fresh the whole of that time. The bottom was of clay and good holding ground, and three small islands lay to the North, but at too great a distance to afford much shelter. The latitude of Port Misericordia they reckoned ‘full’ 53° ¼ S. and from an eclipse of the moon which was observed in the night of January the 31st, it was computed, rather unfortunately for the credit of the observation, that they were to the West of the Meridian of Lima.
February the 2d. Sarmiento sailed from Port Misericordia to another port 3 leagues to the SE (on the same Island Santa Ines), which was named Port de la Candelaria. Here it was proposed to stop the remainder of the time which had been appointed for the ships to wait for each other near the entrance of the Strait.
From the circumstances just related, it seems clear that the Ports Misericordia and Candelaria, are in the Southern shore of the Strait of Magalhanes, and they may be considered as the first ports on that side, within the Western entrance, which afford shelter.
The Cape Espiritu Santo of Sarmiento must accordingly be the Cape Pilares of the present chart.*
* In a Spanish Chart of the Strait of Magalhanes published in 1769, constructed by D. Juan de la Cruz Cano y Olmedilla,§ the Island Santa Ines, with the Ports de la Misericordia and Candelaria, are laid down in the North shore of the Strait; and the geographer has endeavoured with much ingenuity of contrivance to make the shape of the coast correspond with that hypothesis. The Spanish survey of 1786 (published in 1788), which was made with the best opportunities, has placed Port Candelaria on the Southern side; with which decision all the circumstances related in Sarmiento's voyage entirely agree: but the Candelaria of the latter chart seems to be the Port de la Misericordia of Sarmiento.
§ See chart of Juan de la Cruz Cano y Olmedilla.
The second day the ship was in Port Candelaria, some natives were seen on a hill, who called aloud to the Spaniards, and were in like manner answered. The pilot Alonso was sent on shore to them with presents. The natives shewed him a small flag of European linen; and by the signs they made, it was understood that two ships, with men who had beards, and who were dressed and armed like the Spaniards, either had been or then were in some port to the South East. Sarmiento conjectured that these were the two ships which had entered the South Sea the year before with Drake. After this communication, the Indians departed, making signs that in a short time they would come again. The same day, the ceremony of taking possession of the country was performed, a testimonial of which was drawn up in writing, wherein it is set forth that Pedro Sarmiento took possession of this port and territory for Philip the 2d King of Spain and of the Indies, ‘without contradiction from the natives of the said land.’
Priday the 5th. The natives, agreeable to their promise, again made their appearance. Sarmiento sent a boat, in which went the pilot Alonso, the Standard-bearer, and others, with instructions to bring some of them to the ship. Three natives were taken, not indeed ‘without contradiction,’ as they fought and struggled for their release to the utmost of their power, but in vain: they were carried on board, and Sarmiento so far succeeded in reconciling them to their new situation, that they ate and drank, and assumed an appearance of chearfuhiess.
It is pretended that at Port de la Candelaria no one in the ship except the General believed they had yet found the Strait of Magalhanes; and that the pilots remonstrated against proceeding, which they said would be to tempt God. This, with the General's answer expressing his resolution to persevere, is entered in the journal.
Saturday the 6th. Which was a fortnight from the time of entering the Strait, in the journal called 15 days, no hope being entertained that the Almiranta would again join company, Sarmiento determined not to wait longer in this Port. According to the constant tenor of the journal, the whole of the conduct of Villalobos betrayed such a want of alacrity, and so much unwillingness to proceed in the undertaking, that the General seems to have acted remissly in not removing him from his command. Notwithstanding these representations, some writers of that time, who notice the voyage, do not charge Villalobos with having designedly separated from Sarmiento. Jos. Acosta*, who received his information from the pilot of the Almiranta, Hernando Lamero, lays the blame of the separation on the Capitana for not carrying a good light. Villalobos afterwards went in quest of his commander, and was forced from the coast and to the South, by a storm which lasted three days. In 56° S, he sailed to the East, expecting to fall in with the land; but not finding any, it was concluded that to the South of the Strait the coast turned towards the East. In returning to the North, the ship came in sight of the entrance of the Strait, but Villalobos then allowed himself to be persuaded by his people that the season was too far advanced for continuing in so high a latitude, and he sailed on for Chili. Argensola relates,† that in his return he stopped at the Island Mocha, where he obtained provisions from the natives, and afterwards invited the Caciques or Chiefs to an entertainment on board. They accepted the invitation, and as soon as they were in the ship, Villalobos got under sail and carried his deluded guests, 30 of the principal people of the Island, prisoners to Chili.
* Jos. Acosta. Hist. Nat. y Mar. de lat Indias. lib. 3. cap. 11.
† Conq. de las Malucas, lib. 3.
To return to Sarmiento.— Leaving Port Candeldria, three leagues SEbE from thence, he passed a harbour, beyond which, two leagues to the ESE, he entered another, which the Indian prisoners on board pointed out as the place where the ships and bearded people before described by them had been, and had taken on board fresh water. This port was by the Indians called Caviguilgua, but by Sarmiento it was named Santa Monica. It is sheltered from all winds, with depth of water from 20 to 22 fathoms, a clear sandy bottom. Three leagues NE from this port, and near the opposite side of the Strait, is an Island which was named Santa Ana. This remark in the journal ascertains, that Sarmiento had thus far navigated the Strait by the Southern shore, and that the Santa Monica and Santa Ana mentioned by him, are the same Port and Island which appear so named in the chart of 1788.
The careful surveys which have in later times been made of the Strait of Magalhanes, and the superiority of the instruments employed, render it unnecessary to trace closely the sequel of the navigation of P. Sarmiento.
No strange ships were found in Santa Monica, nor is any additional circumstance noticed that shows Europeans had been there before. Nothing therefore being found to detain the ship, they left that port on the 7th, and proceeded towards the East entrance of the Strait, navigating generally by day, and passing the nights, unless prevented by accident, at anchor in some bay or port.
The 8th, some fires were observed on an Island near to which the ship passed, which sight caused the natives who were prisoners in the ship, to weep and make lamentations. The journal, with a simplicity bordering on stupidity, has attributed these lamentations to apprehensions entertained by the prisoners, lest the people who made the fires should attack and kill them; adding, ‘but we consoled them by making signs that we would defend them and kill the other natives.’* An Island on which Sarmiento landed this day, was remarked for being almost covered with a fruit of a dark colour, which resembled small grapes.
* Viage al Estrecho, por Sarmiento, p. 209 [p. 118 in Hakluyt edition].
The 9th. Some natives with their canoes were seen at an island which, in the present charts, is named de Carlos III. Pilot Alonso was sent there with a boat and armed crew. He entered a good harbour, within which he found a village. The natives, who were people of large stature, on seeing the boat approach, sunk their canoes, and retreated to a hill, from whence they called to the Spaniards to land. The Spaniards likewise called and made signs to the natives to come to the water side; but neither party would put trust in the other. The Spaniards, in anger at their disappointment, and believing that the Indians were waiting in ambuscade with intention to attack them if they should land, fired their muskets. Some of the women on shore immediately set up a great cry, upon which the Spaniards discontinued firing, and returned to the ship, taking with them one of the Indian canoes.
Many whales, seals, and porpoises, were seen in this part of the Strait.
Thursday, February 1 1th. The ship anchored in a bay which Sarmiento named Bahia de la Gente (Bay of the People), but which has since been named Puerto de Hambre, or Port Famine. At this place twvo large and fat deer (venados) were shot, but only one of them taken: these animals are not described in the journal. In the woods were parrots, parroquets, goldfinches and other singing birds. A river whiich empties itself in the bay, was named de San Juan. Near its entrance, Sarmiento erected a cross in a situation visible to any ship that might pass.
Some natives here came in a friendly manner to the Spaniards, and it was their peculiar good fortune to experience friendly treatment in return, and no molestation. The next day they came again, with their women and children, and brought the Spaniards a present of seal flesh, sea birds, some berries; and a flint, with a piece of metallic earth, with which they struck fire, using for tinder some feathers which they had brought for that purpose. This visit was interrupted by the appearance of smoke in the woods, which caused great consternation among the natives, and made them apprehend the approach of some other tribe. The fire, however, had been kindled by the Spaniards to melt wax or pitch, but they were unable to make this comprehended by the natives, or to prevent their sudden departure.
At the river de San Juan the ceremony of taking possession was performed. An account of the discoveries made in the Gulf de Trinidad, and a written declaration of the act of possession, were put in an earthen jar, the mouth of which was stopped up and waxed, to secure the contents from damp. This jar was buried at the foot of the cross, and on the cross was carved a notice to search underneath.
A copy of this declaration fills above ten pages of the printed journal. With it was interwoven an order for Villalobos, directing him, if it should come to his hands, to return to Peru, and inform the Viceroy that the Capitana had proceeded towards Spain, and that she had arrived at this Bay with all the people alive who sailed in her from Lima. The names of the officers, soldiers, and mariners, are inserted, 44 in number: the remainder of the ship's company being servants, mulattoes, or Indians, their names were not deemed worthy the same honour. The most remarkable part of this declaration is the following notice formally given for changing the name of the Strait.
“Be it known to all men, that to make this Voyage and Discovery, we chose for our advocate and patroness, our most serene Lady the Virgin Santa Maria, conformably to the instruction of his excellency (the Viceroy of Feru). For which reason, and for the wonders which through her intercession have been wrought in our behalf, the name of the Strait de la Madre de Dios is given to this Strait heretofore called de Magallanes.”*
* Sarmiento's journal, p. 239 [p 121 in Hakluyt edition].
It would perhaps be regarding this piece of vanity with too much severity, to suppose that it proceeded from a wish to detract from the reputation of Magalhanes; but it appears with peculiar ill grace in Sarmiento, who in this particular has been treated with great respect by subsequent navigators. More of the names imposed by him remain unaltered in the charts, than of any other of the early navigators.* Posterity, however, has not countenanced the injustice designed against Magalhanes, and the Strait continues, and will probably long continue, to be distinguished by his name.
* Besides the names in the Gulf de la Trinidad, above 30 names given by Sarmiento are to be found in the chart of the last survey of the Strait of Magalhanes.
After sailing from this bay, some natives of large stature were seen on the coast opposite (of Tierra del fuego). The standard-bearer was sent with an armed party, with orders to bring one of them on board. When the boat arrived at the shore, the natives laid down their arms, and began singing and jumping with their hands extended aloft. The standard-bearer made ‘the same signals of peace,’ on which the natives came to the boat, and the Spaniards executed their intention by seizing one of them. The rest took directly to their arms, which were bows and arrows, and attacked the Spaniards, who in the hurry of their embarkation lost two muskets, and the ship's steward was wounded in the eye with an arrow. The natives, however, were not able to rescue their countryman. When taken to the ship, the Spaniards used their endeavours to comfort and inspire him with confidence, which he appeared to take in good part, but he refused to eat all that day and night.
This part of the coast was without mountains and level: the soil was clay, and rabbits like those of Castile burrowed in the earth. In a bay which was named de San Gregorio, Sarmiento landed some of his people, and they were attacked by four natives, who wounded several, and among them the General in the face with an arrow, but not dangerously. Sarmiento mentions, on the information given by one of his Indian prisoners, that the country in this part of the Strait produces cotton.
Near the Eastern entrance of the Strait, two places are remarked by Sarmiento, which appeared to him well adapted for defending the passage. These are at the narrowest parts, and he proposes that forts should be constructed on each side. The Westernmost Angostura of these places was named Angustura * de San Simon: the breadth is here one geographical league and a half. The Eastern, which is the narrowest part of the Strait, was named Angostura de la Esperanza, where Sarmiento estimated the distance across to be ‘less than half a [Spanish] league.’†
* Angostura signifies narrow; and some of the English charts name these parts of the Strait, The Narrows.
† Sarmiento's Journal, p. 272 [p. 150 in Hakluyt edition]. The Derrotero (Directory) to the Chart of 1788, says the breadth of the Strait at the Angostura de la Esperanza is scarcely two Spanish miles. Relacion del Ult. Viage al Estrecho, p. 101. And in the Chart the distance across is laid down two geographical miles; which is 2/7 of a mile more than it was supposed by Sarmiento.
All the natives seen in the Eastern part of the Strait were of large stature: the tribes of smaller size inhabited the parts towards the South Sea.
Sarmiento passed the Eastern Angostura on February the 23d, which was 17 days after his leaving Fort de la Calendaria. The weather during that time was in general temperate, the winds variable, and they had frequent calms. The remarks entered in the journal are directed to both shores, the situations of the Capes and Bays on each side being described by Sarmiento wherever opportunity admitted. If no guide of later date had reached us, this journal would deservedly have been esteemed a valuable directory for the Strait.
The 24th. The ship was standing Eastward from the Strait with a fresh wind from the North. Being ESE (per compass) from the Cape de las Virgenes, distant 8 ¼ Spanish leagues,§ it was discovered that she was sailing over a bank on which there was only four fathoms depth of water. The Journal says, ‘we were 6 leagues from the Cape de las Virgenes, which bore from us NW: here we had soundings in 12 fathoms, sand. We made sail EbN 2 leagues: here we sounded in 13 fathoms, the Cape bearing WNW 8 leagues; and sailing half a league to the ESE, we sounded in 4 fathoms; and then we sailed EbN half a league, and sounded in 49 fathoms. And from hence we steered ENE one league in one hour, and had soundings in 70 fathoms. All the bottom was small gray sand.*
§ Six leagues in original Spanish edition: “á este tiempo estábamos seis leguas del Cabo de la Virgen-Maria.”
* Sarmiento's Journal, p. 278, 279 [p. 156 in Hakluyt edition]. This bank is placed not more than 6 leagues distant from Cape Virgenes in the Chart of Olmedilla; and on that authority its situation was marked in the Chart of the Southern part of America in Vol. I. of this work, as I had not, when that volume was published, seen the above passage in Sarmiento's Journal. The variation of the Compass on the Eastern coast of Patagonia has been Easterly and increasing from the time of Magalhanes. In 1520, the variation in Port San Julian, was 8° 15' East. In 1619, the Nodales observed the variation along the coast to be from 12° to 17° Easterly; and in 1766, in Captain Wallis's voyage, the variation near Cape Virgenes was 23° E. About 12 degrees East variation may be allowed at the time Sarmiento discovered the 4 fathom bank, and will give fbr its true bearing from Cape Virgenes S. 55° E; the distance is 29 geographical miles. This position is between two and three leagues to the SE of the one before assigned to it.
Having entered the Atlantic Ocean, Sarmiento directed the course towards the NE for Europe.
In this passage, on March the 25th, being under the Southern Tropic, a lunar rainbow (‘Iris blanco’) was seen in the part of the hemisphere opposed to the moon.
March 31st. In latitude 21 ¼ S. Sarmiento observed for the longitude with a cross-staff of his own making, ‘with which,’ says the journal, ‘at the beginning of day, the General took the degrees of longitude by the full of the moon and the rising of the sun, and found that we were 18 degrees more West than the Meridian of Seville.* An observation so taken and calculated by the tables of that time, could only by chance have a near agreement with the truth: this appears to have erred about 5 degrees; but the ingenuity and perseverance which must have been exercised in the endeavour to overcome so many difficulties is entitled to respect; and so early an atteiupt to ascertain the longitude at sea by lunar observation merits notice.
* Al amanecer tomo el General los grados de Longitud por la llena de la Luna y nacimiento del Sol. Viage por Sarmiento, p. 301 [[p. 164 in Hakluyt edition].‘By the full of the Moon’ may be understood nearly at the full. It seems apparent from no eclipse being remarked, that the Sun and Moon did not come in direct opposition, nor does the observation appear to have been made on such a presumption: for if it had been taken for granted that the Sun and Moon were on the same Azimuth circle (on direct opposite sides of the Zenith), the observation would have been simply of the Moon's altitude. But as Sarmiento found it necessary to make a cross-staff for his observation, it was probably for the purpose of taking an angle larger than 90 degrees (perhaps by the method practised in what is called a back observation), and therefore this observation seems to have been of the angular distance of the Sun and Moon.
April the 11th. The ship anchored at the Island Ascension where they found turtle in abundance, but no water; but they were afterwards told at the Island Santiago, that on the South side of Ascension there was water and good anchorage.* Sarmiento took here another observation for the longitude; and this 2d observation (from which he calculated that the Island Ascension was 3 degrees West of the Meridian of Cadiz) differed about the same in quantity from the truth as the former; but the first observation erred to the West, and the latter to the East.
* Sarmiento's Journal, p. 308 [p. 167 in Hakluyt edition].
They left Ascension April the 12th. On the 23d of May, near the Island Santiago, they were attacked by a French ship, which was beaten off, without injury sustained, except to the sails and rigging. On arriving at Santiago, Sarmiento had some difficulty in convincing the Portuguese that he had come from the South Sea through the Strait of Magalhanes. It was here reported that Drake had arrived in England, with many other circumstances equally void of truth, all which are detailed at length in the journal.
June the 19th. The Standard-bearer, Juan Gutierrez de Guevara, was executed: but the particulars of his crime are not explained. The journal says ‘he was strangled for being a traitor to the Royal crown, a seditious man, and a dishonourer of the Royal ensign and flag, and because he had endeavoured to obstruct the service of discovery on which they had been employed.’ Two men likewise were dismissed from the ship at Santiago, one of them for mutiny, the other, who was the ship's steward, for wasting the provisions. Other punishments were inflicted, according to Argensola, without sufficient evidence of guilt to justify the severities exercised.*
* Conq. de las Malucas, lib. 4.
The same day, Sarmiento sailed from Santiago, having in company a packet boat which he had purchased there for the purpose of transmitting to America a narrative of his proceedings: and the fourth day after leaving Santiago, the pilot Hernando Alonso was dispatched in the packet boat to the West Indies, with a copy of the journal to be conveyed to the Viceroy of Peru, and an account of all the intelligence which had been received. Alonso executed his commission with fidelity, delivering with his own hands the journal to the Viceroy at Lima,* who rewarded his diligence.
* Acosta. Hist. Nat. y Mor. de las Indias, 1. 3. c. 11.
July the 13th. Sarmiento passed the Azores, at one of which, the Island St. George, on the first of the preceding month, subterraneous fires had burst forth in seven different places, by which nine men had been killed, and the country entirely covered with ashes a span in depth. Arrival in August the 15 th, the ship made the coast of Spain, near Cape St. Vincent.
Here the journal concludes; and to it is annexed a certificate, vouching its contents to be true in all things, without exaggeration in any; which is subscribed with the signatures of Pedro Sarmiento, his officers and several of his people: dated August the 17th, at which time it is probable the ship was in port.*
* The account given of this voyage inserted by Bart. Leonardo de Argensola in his history of the conquest of the Moluccas, is professedly taken from the journal sent by Sarmiento to King Philip II, and consequently there has been little occasion to consult it. Argensola is obscure in all that relates to the geography of the voyage: in other respects he has been accused, with sufficient reason, of having indulged his fancy.
The reader will feel some degree of interest, and consequently of curiosity, concerning the fate of the natives of the Strait of Magalhanes, who were carried from thence by Sarmiento. The journal affords very little satisfaction on this head. The Indian who was last taken (the Patagonian) is once afterwards mentioned by the name of Felipe, with the addition of el Indio grande, (Philip, the large Indian): and it is remarked in the journal, that at the Island Santiago the Portuguese were astonished to see in the ship, men of such various figures and countenances.
Sarmiento, upon his arrival in Spain, repaired to Badajoz, where Philip the IId. then was, and presented his journals and observations to that monarch. He represented that by fortifying both the shores of the Eastern Angostura,* the passage of the Strait would be completely guarded, and that within the Strait there were places convenient for the settlement of colonies. This proposal met with strong opposition from some of the principal persons in Philip's court, particularly from the Duke de Alba, who made a remark on the occasion, which became proverbial, that ‘if a ship carried out only anchors and cables sufficient for her security against the storms in that part of the world, she would go well laden.’ A belief, however, which was then entertained by many Spaniards, that the English were making preparations for seizing into their own hands the passage of the Strait, determined Philip in favour of Sarmiento's plan. 23 ships were equipped at Seville, for the support of the Spanish dominion in South America, and in them were embarked 3500 men. Diego Flores de Valdes was appointed Commander in chief of this Armada, which was formed into three divisions, each destined for a separate service: but the whole fleet were directed first to sail in company to the Strait of Magalhanes, to assist Sarmiento in planting the intended colony. Afterwards, one division of the force was to proceed to Chili under the command of Don Alonso de Soto Mayor, who was appointed Governor of that province. A second division was to sail to Brasil with the Commander in chief, on whom had been conferred the additional title of Captain General of the coast of Brasil (Portugal and her settlements having recently become a part of the Spanish monarchy). The third division was allotted wholly for the service of the intended establishment in the Strait, and was to be left there at the disposal of Sarmiento. On board this third division were embarked artificers of various descriptions, with large stores of ammunition and ordnance.†
* Descrip. de las Indias. Herrera, cap. 23.
† An account of this Expedition of Pedro Sarmiento is given by Lopez Vaz. See Hakluyt's Collection, vol. iii, p. 794.§ There has likewise been published, as an Appendix to the Journal of Sarmiento's former expedition, a Declaration made by Tomé Hernandez, one of the Spaniards who went with Sarmiento from Spain to found the settlement in the Strait. This Declaration was made upon oath, and taken down by a notary, in presence of the Viceroy of Peru, in the city of Los Reyes, where T. Hernandez then resided, March the 21st, 1620, nearly 39 years after the time of his embarking as a private soldier in the expedition of which he gives an account. And in the Noticias de las Exped. al Magallanes, Madrid 1788, is given an abstract of a MS Relation, written by Sarmiento himself, which is preserved in the Spanish Archives.
§ Cited book not yet found, but another account by Lopez Vaz is available here.
This powerful armament sailed from Seville, September the 25th, 1581, a time which the pilots disapproved, either on account of the Sun then crossing the Equinox, or because the sky wore a threatening appearance; but the orders of the Spanish ministry were peremptory. On the eve of the day of S. Francisco (October the 3d), whilst the fleet was yet near their own coast, a violent gale of wind arose from the SW, by which five of the ships were wrecked, and 800 men perished. One of these ships was the Esperanza, in which Sarmiento had performed his voyage from Lima to Spain. The vessels that survived the storm put back in distress to Cadiz, two of them totally disqualified for service.
In December, the fleet, now sixteen in number, departed Cadiz again; but as it was supposed that the season would be too far advanced for them to proceed direct for the Strait, they were ordered to winter at Rio Janeiro, which orders were given by the King himself, though it had been objected against this port by Sarmiento and other officers, that stopping there to winter would render the ships liable to much injury from the worms.
January the 9th, the fleet anchored at Saint Jago, one of the Cape de Verde Islands, where they stopped above a month. In sailing from thence to Brasil, 150 men were lost by sickness. March the 24th, they anchored at Rio Janeiro, and remained there during the winter, in which time 150 more of the people died, and many of the intended settlers deserted; The bottoms of the ships, as had been foretold, were attacked by the worms: several became leaky, and one ship was abandoned as unserviceable. The two commanders, Flores de Valdes and Pedro Sarmiento, had sailed from Europe to America in the same ship, but having had disagreements, they now separated to different ships. Whilst the fleet lay at Rio Janeiro, the frames of two houses, composed of wood, intended to be used in the Strait, were made, and the frames of a brigantine and lanch which had been brought from Spain, intended likewise for service in the Strait, were, by the order of the Commander in chief, set up in Rio Janeiro.
Toward the end of November, the fleet departed Brazil. In the first boisterous weather the brigantine and lanch were lost. In 38° S. latitude, one of the largest ships, named the Riola, of 500 tons, in which were most of the stores designed for the Strait of Magalhanes, sprung a leak, and the water gained on her so fast and unexpected, that though the weather was moderate, she went dcvn before any assistance was sent to her from the other ships, and 350 persons perished, 20 of whom were women who had embarked for the proposed colony. Dismayed by this new misfortune, Flores returned with the fleet to Brasil, losing by the way another of his ships, the Santa Maria, which was wrecked on the coast.
At a port near the Island Santa Catalina, Flores met a Spanish bark, from which he received intelligence that three English vessels had stopped on the coast in their way towards the Strait of Magalhanes.
The Spanish fleet went afterwards to the Island Santa Catalina, where disputes arose among the commanders concerning their future proceedings; but it was at length agreed that the fleet should sail again for the Strait. Three of the largest ships were, however, reported to be in too shattered a state to attempt going again to the Southward, and Flores directed that they should be left behind, with 300 soldiers, mostly of the sick and least serviceable men,* and ordered them to sail to Rio Janeiro.§
* Discourse of Lopez Vaz. Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 794.
§ See Vaz, pp. 270-271 Vaz does not give the number of soldiers, and Burney's source for this figure in unknown.
The English vessels just mentioned, were two ships under the command of Edward Fenton and Luke Ward, and a pinnace commanded by John Drake, a name fruitful in maritime enterprizes. The declared purpose of their undertaking was commercial, and their proposed destination the East Indies and China. Fenton, who had the chief command, had received instructions for the regulation of his conduct from the Lords of her Majesty's council, a copy of which are inserted at length in Hackluyt's collection,* as is likewise a narrative of this Voyage written by Luke Ward, who was second in command and styled the Vice-Admiral. The instructions are dated April 9th, 1582: they enjoin all persons embarked in the voyage to demean themselves ‘like good and honest merchants, not to do spoile or take any thing from any of the Queen's friends or allies, or from any Christians without paying for the same, and not to use force but in their own defence.’
* Vol. III. p. 754.
The commander was directed, to go by the Cape of Good Hope, but with a reservation expressed in the following discretionary clause, ‘and not to pass by the Strait of Magellan, either going or returning, except upon great occasion or incident, that shall be thought otherwise good to you, by the advice and consent of your said assistants.’ Under these instructions, they sailed from England in May 1582, four vessels in company, two of them stout ships, and two small barks, the burthen of the whole being 790 tons: [the number of men Ward has omitted to mention]. They went first to the coast of Guinea, and there sold one of the small vessels: from thence they sailed to Brasil, and made that coast in December, near the Island Santa Catalina, where they captured a Spanish vessel; but, after a short detention, set her again at liberty. From her they learnt, that the Spanish fleet under Flores and Sarmiento had a short time before sailed from Rio Janeiro for the Strait. This did not prevent the English commanders from adopting the plan, probably long before intended though here first openly avowed, of prosecuting their voyage to China by the way of the Strait of Magalhanes. They accordingly bent their course Southward, but after sailing eight days in that direction, they became irresolute: to endeavour a passage through the Strait, which they had reason to expect would be preoccupied by a force so greatly superior to their own, began to be considered as they ought at first to have considered it, an attempt dangerous and not likely to succeed: after new deliberations, the plan of going by the Strait was relinquished, and they returned to the coast of Brasil, intending to recruit their stock of provisions, and then to determine the plan of their future proceedings. Near the River de la Plata, the pinnace was separated from them. The two ships anchored at St. Vincent, January the 19th, 1583; and a few days after, the three disabled ships which Flores had dismissed from his fleet came to the same port, which lay in their way to Rio Janeiro. They attacked the Enghsh, and in the engagement one of the Spanish ships was sunk; but the English ships thought proper to quit the port, and being shortly after separated, they made no farther attempt to prosecute their voyage, but returned home,* without having attempted any thing creditable to themselves or beneficial for their employers. The pinnace commanded by John Drake, was cast away on the coast, and her people fell into the hands of the natives in the River de la Flafa. Some of them afterwards escaped to the Spanish settlements, of which number was John Drake, who was sent to Peru.† What afterwards became of him or of the rest does not appear.
* The copy of Ward's journal in the edition of 1589 of Hakhuyt's Voyages, records the following circumstance, which is similar to one related by Pigafetta in his account of the voyage of Magalhanes (See vol. 1. p. 50). ‘February i2th, having considered the lacke of water, the company were contented to have the pease boiled with three jacks of fresh water, and two jacks of salt water for the prolonging of the same.’ Hakluyt, p. 668. Edit. 1589. Their distress was of short continuance; for on the 17th it rained hard, and they saved two tons of fresh water.
The adventures of the Spanish armament subsequent to those already related, continued to be uniformly disastrous. Flores had sailed again for the Strait, on January the 11th, 1583; but in leaving the Island Santa Catalina, one ship of his reduced fleet got on a bank and was wrecked. When they were in latitude 34° S. the ship in which Sarmiento sailed became leaky, and was discovered to be in a condition unfit to proceed. A council of the commanders and pilots of the fleet was summoned on board the ship of the Captain General, where, after much debate, it was determined, contrary to the opinion or wishes of Flores, the Commander in chief, that they should persevere in going to the Strait. The council, however, consented that Don Alonso de Sotomayor should depart from the fleet with three ships for the River de la Plata, that from thence he might march by land to his government of Chili.
Five ships proceeded towards the South, and on February the 7th, they arrived in the mouth of the Strait, and cast anchor in the First Angostura or Narrows,* but a gale of wind came on in the night which forced them out again. After endeavouring in vain till the end of March to regain entrance, being constantly frustrated by contrary winds, the resolution and patience of Flores were completely exhausted, and he bore away with the fleet under all the sail that could be set to return to Brazil, when, according to Sarmiento, the wind was not strong, and he might have anchored under the shelter of the Cape de las Virgenes. But the favourable time of the year had been wasted by the former irresolution of Flores, and winter was now at hand.
* Declaration of T. Hernandez, p. vi [p. 356 in Hakluyt edition].
The fleet arrived at Rio Janeiro early in May, and found there four ships laden with stores, which had been sent from Spain to assist the purposes of the Armada, and which brought letters for the chiefs to exhort them to persevere in their exertions. During the winter, the ships were repaired; but Flores himself quitted the command, and sailed for Spain, leaving Diego de Rivera, his lieutenant, to cooperate with Sarmiento in the business of fortifying the Strait.
The 2d of December, Sarmiento and Rivera departed from Rio Janeiro with five ships and 530 persons. They arrived in the Strait on the 1st of February without accident, and passing the First Angostura, anchored between that and The Second; but the strength of the ebb tide forced them from their anchors* and carried them back without the Strait. They however anchored again close to the Cape de las Virgenes, and for fear of further disappointment, began without loss of time to disembark the settlers. On the 5th, when 300† persons had landed, a gale of wind obliged the ships to quit their anchorage. When they regained the Strait, one of the ships, named the Trinidad, being within the entrance, ran aground and was wrecked; her people, with the artillery and provisions that were in her were saved, but the provisions were damaged. Before all the stoves could be landed, Rivera with three of the remaining ships, without orders from Sarmiento or giving notice of such intention, departed from the Strait during the night [this was in February], and they bent their course for Spain, leaving with Sarmiento and his colony only one ship, the Maria.
* The tide in the first Angostura runs with great rapidity, sometimes at the rate of 8 geographical miles per hour.
† Noticias de las Exp. al Magal.
This circumstance, and most of the others in the foregoing account, are taken from the short abstract of Sarmiento's narrative published in the Noticias de las Exp. al Magalhanes. Tomé Hernandez likewise avers that Rivera§ left the Strait without having landed the Stores. But it is most natural to believe that Rivera was forced from his anchors, seeing the pains he had before taken to get within the Strait.
§ Ribera in the Hernandez account.
The number of the Spaniards left with Sarmiento were 400 men and women, with provisions for eight months.* The foundation of their first town was laid near the mouth of the Strait on the North side,† and was named la Ciudad del Nombre de Jesus [the City of the Name of Jesus]. Sarmiento placed there 150 men under the command of Andres de Viedma, and sent forward the ship Maria, with orders to stop at Point Santa Ana, (a point on the continental shore about 25 Spanish leagues within the first Angostura) whilst with 100 men he travelled by land for the same place. He set out on the 4th of March: the road proved very circuitous, and in their march they had skirmishes with the Indians, in which one Spaniard was killed and ten wounded, and the chief of a native tribe was killed.
* Lopez Vaz.
† Ibid. In the chart of Olmedilla the site of Nombre de Jesus is marked near the present Cape de la Possession, which is nearly midway between Cape de las Virgenes and the first Angostura.§
§ Magnifying-glass icon near the strait entrance on Juan de la Cruz Cano y Olmedilla chart shows detail view of Nombre de Jesus. Other icon near cartouche enlarges it. See Cape of the 11,000 Virgins on the Placenames page for more details.
Near Point Santa Ana, a situation was chosen for another town in a nook to the NW of the point,* which place was recommended by a port with good anchorage and abounding with fish, as did the shore with birds; by a fresh water river, and a surrounding country well furnished with wood. It was likewise esteemed a convenient distance from the other settlement, as in one tide a boat could go from hence to the First Angostura.† This town received the name of San Felipe: the houses and all the edifices were at first built of wood.
* Ruttier, from the R. of Plate to the Strait of Magelane. Hakluyt, vol. III. p. 726.
Appearances in April threatened them with a severe winter: the snow fell without intermission fifteen days. On the 25th of May, Sarmiento left the town of San Felipe under the government of Juan Suarez, and sailed in the Maria, on board of which ship were 30 seamen, for the city del Nombre de Jesus, intending to give directions for fortifying the Angosturas, and to convey more of the settlers from N. de Jesus to San Felipe; and afterwards to go with the ship to Chili for a supply of provisions.*
* Declaration of T. Hernandez, p. xiii [p. 359 in Hakluyt account].
Sarmiento arrived off Nombre de Jesus and anchored: but a violent tempest, according to the abstract of his own narrative, drove the ship from her anchors, and after beating against the storm 20 days, he was no longer able to maintain the struggle, and was necessitated to steer for Brasil.
The departure of Sarmiento has, however, been represented as the effect of design, and not of unavoidable necessity. Lopez Vaz relates that Sarmiento, after sailing from San Felipe, ‘remained a day or two at Nombre de Jesus, from whence a storm broke the ship loose; but his men said he cut his cables.’ In the declaration of Tomé Hernandez it appears, that the people had already began to experience distress for want of provisions and clothing, and that some of them had formed a conspiracy, in which it was proposed to kill Sarmiento, and return in the ship to Brasil. Hernandez has claimed to himself the merit of revealing this conspiracy to Sarmiento, who executed some of the ringleaders; but he thought it necessary afterwards, either for his own personal safety, or to prevent the ship from being run away with, to sleep on board every night. Sarmiento, who was a laborious and careful, though certainly an unfortunate man, ought not to be lightly suspected, and his subsequent conduct fully acquits him of any intention to desert his people. He had declared his purpose of going from the new settlement to Chili for provisions: Brasil was equally capable of furnishing supplies, and economy of time must have been the most reasonable motive for preference between the two places. The winds, as far as the decision depended upon them, seemed to pronounce in favour of Brasil.
The Southern winter was at its height when Sarmiento arrived at Rio Janeiro. He procured a bark there, which he loaded with meal; and leaving directions for her to sail for the Strait at the proper season, he went to other ports of Brasil in search of farther supplies for his settlement. In this progress along the coast, his ship was driven on shore and wrecked; many of the crew were drowned, and Sarmiento himself with difficulty escaped on a plank. He procured another bark of about 60 tons burthen, and loading her with such things as were most wvanted in the Strait, he sailed thitherward from Rio Janeiro in 1585. In 39° S. a storm obliged him to throw his cargo into the sea to save the vessel from foundering, and 51 days after his departure he returned again to Rio Janeiro, wheve he had the aggravated mortification to find the bark which he had first dispatched with provisions for the Strait, which had returned without effecting her passage. Before the vessels could be refitted, the favourable season for sailing to the Strait was past. The Governors at the different ports of Brasil became weary of furnishing assistance to Sarmiento, especially as they learnt by the accounts from Europe that the King was much dissatisfied with the undertaking, and entertained a belief that Sarmiento had deceived him in his representations; for Diego de Rivera, on his return to Spain, had reported the narrowest part of the Strait to be above a league across, and that if a ship went with wind and current in her favour, it was not in the power of ordnance on shore to stop her.
Sarmiento thus every way persecuted, and without resource, determined to sail for Spain, and, with that intention, departed from Brasil in the latter part of April.
The disappointments of Sarmiento fell most heavy on his unfortunate colony. After the departure of Sarmiento for Europe, the Governor of Rio Janeiro [sic, of Brazil] made one more effort towards their relief by sending a ship with provisions and stores for the Strait, but she was driven back by contrary winds,* or by despair; and no farther trouble appears to have been taken either by Spain or by her American dominions to save these people.
* Discourse of Lopez Vaz. Hakluyt, vol. III. p. 796. [Vaz, p. 274]
Lopez Vaz, in this part of his discourse, concludes his account of the Strait in the following language (as translated in Hakluyt); ‘and this is all the discovery of the Strait of Magellan made as well by Spaniards as other nations unto this present year 1586. It is full four years since these poor and miserable Spaniards were left in the Straits, from which time no succour has gone unto them, so God he knoweth wliether they be dead or alive.’ *
* Discourse of Lopez Vaz. An account of the fate of the Colony will be found in chap. 5. of this volume.
As for Sarmiento himself, few men had less reason to accuse Fortune of inconstancy. In his passage to Europe, near the Western Islands, he was attacked by three English ships, and being unable to defend his ship, he threw all his papers into the sea. When the English carried their prize into port, Queen Elizabcth had the curiosity to order the Governor of the Strait of Magalhanes to be presented to her. It is said, they discoursed together in the Latin language, and that her Majesty not only gave him his liberty and a passport to Spain, but presented him with 1000 crowns. By various mis-adventures, his return to his own country was some years longer retarded. On his arrival in Spain he wrote in his own justification, a circumstantial relation of his expedition, the miscarriage of which he attributes to the inactivity and want of resolution of the Commander in chief, Diego Flores de Valdes.* The Spanish writers term this expedition the most disastrous which to that time had been sent by their nation to the Strait of Magalhanes. They might have added, likewise, the most discreditable to their nation, for the negligence and indifference with which their countrymen in the Strait were suffered to perish.
* Pedro Sarmiento was living at the Phillipine Islands when Argensola wrote his History of the Conquest of the Moluccas, the license and approbation to which is dated 1608. He had been employed by the Governor of the Phillipines as General, in an attempt to leduce the Moluccas to obedience to the Spanish monarchy, which project then miscarried, as if the fortune of the General was contagious.
At the time the Spaniards undertook to fortify the passage of the Strait, the probability of a passage to the South of the Tierra del fuego had been surmised, but without obtaining a degree of credit that could make it a consideration of much weight. The Strait continued to be regarded as the key to the Pacific Ocean, the exclusive possession of which, if attainable, was certainly a desirable object to the Spaniards. Sarmiento, the great advocate for the plan, and who rested his reputation upon its success, had, as already shewn, under-rated the distance of the opposite shores of the Strait from each other; but it is not to be doubted that if the settlement had prospered, the ships of other European nations would have been deterred from those enterprises to the South Sea, which almost immediately followed the knowledge of Sarmiento's failure. The contrast arising from these enterprizes furnishes argument little favourable to human nature, and too strongly evinces that the best motives are not the most powerful springs of action. Whilst the Spaniards were unmoved by the distressed condition of their countrymen, and readily resigned themselves to the belief that all attempts to relieve them must be vain, the seamen of other nations, allured by the love of gold, with the greatest alacrity opposed themselves to the dangers which deterred the Spaniards from the better cause.
The reproach, however, does not, properly speaking, attach to the Spanish nation, but to the individuals who at that time held the powers of government.