The March of Portola
by Zoeth S. Eldredge
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Remembering the good water at the camp on the Rio del Carmelo, Portola ordered the expedition to Carmelo Bay by direct line, while he, with Fages and Crespi, proceeded around the Point of Pines. They found it well covered with pine trees, many of them large enough for masts of a ship. They also came upon a grove of cypress at a point beyond (Cypress Point), and arrived at camp after a walk of four good leagues. Here they awaited the arrival of the San Antonio.

On May 31st the paquebot was sighted near Point Pinos. The soldiers made signals, to which the ship replied with her guns, and before night had dropped her anchor in Monterey Bay, which was pronounced by the sailors to be a most famous port.

On the 3d of June, 1770, under a shelter of branches near the oak where, in 1602, Vizcaino's Carmelite friars had celebrated mass, Don Gaspar de Portola, with his officers, soldiers, and people of the land expedition, Fray Junipero Serra and Fray Juan Crespi, Don Juan Perez, captain of the San Antonio, Don Miguel del Pino, his second in command, together with the crew, assembled to establish a presidio and mission. The father president chanted the mass and preached from the Gospel, while the musical deficiency was made good by repeated discharges from the guns of the San Antonio and volleys from the muskets of the soldiers. At the conclusion of the religious ceremonies, Don Gaspar de Portola, governor of the Californias, took possession of the country in the name of his majesty Don Carlos III, King of Spain, and the presidio and mission of San Carlos de Borromeo de Monterey were founded and established, the first presidio and second mission in California.

In accord with the orders of the visitador-general, Portola now delivered to Lieutenant Fages, as comandante of California, the command of the new establishments, sailed on the San Antonio, July 9th, for San Blas, and California knew him no more.

[1] Sierra de Santa Lucia.

[2] Audiencia, the highest judicial body.

[3] The system of encomienda conferred feudal rights upon the discoverers. The Indians became vassals of Spanish lords.

[4] Vizcaino says he set out on the discovery of the coast of the South Sea with two ships, a lancha, and a barcoluengo. A lancha was a small vessel having no deck and but one mast, and propelled by sweeps. Vanegas calls the vessel a fragata. A barcoluengo, or barcolongo, was a long open boat.

[5] The second voyage of Vizcaino is of particular interest to Californians for the reason that the names given by him to the various geographical features of the coast still remain. The particulars of the first voyage are taken largely from the publications of the Southern California Historical Society of documents in the Sutro collection.

[6] Sutro Col. Pub. Southern California Hist. Socy.

[7] Prof. George Davidson identifies the Rio de los Reyes as Rogue River in 42deg. 25'.

[8] About Cape San Quintin, the latitude of their northernmost mission.

[9] Instruccion qua ha de observer el Teniente de Infanteria. Dn Pedro Pages, 5 enero de 1769. Provincial State Papers; i, 38.9, Ms. Spanish Archives of California.

[10] So-called from the cuera, a leathern jacket worn by them as a defensive armor.

[11] Out West. March-July, 1902.

[12] Pancakes.

[13] Dead Men's Point. The name has disappeared from the modern maps, but is found on all of the old ones. It is the foot of H street where the cars for the Coronado ferry turn on to the wharf.

[14] I am well aware that this claim will be disputed by one whose study of original documents and power of analysis make him perhaps the greatest authority on early California History; but I am nevertheless prepared to maintain my position.

[15] Carga, 275 lbs.

[16] Hence the presidial soldiers were called Soldados de Cuera and so distinguished from soldiers of the regular army.

[17] Diario Historico de los viages de Mar y de tierra hichos al norte de la California. Ms. Original in Sutro Library.

[18] The league is the Spanish league of 5,000 varas. 2.63 miles.

[19] They also gave it the name of Santa Ana, whose day, July 26th, they had just observed.

[20] Sometimes called the Grand Pardon of Assisi - the great indulgence of the Franciscans. Originally granted to St. Francis for the Church of Our Lady of the Angeles of Porciuncula, it was, by apostolic indult, expanded to accompany the child of St. Francis wherever he may be. It is enough for him to erect an altar and that altar will be to him St. Mary of the Angels, and he will there find the Porciuncula of the revelations. Whoso confesses and receives the sacrament in the church of Porciuncula is granted plenary remission of his sins in this world and the next. This indulgence is only for August 2nd - that is, from the afternoon of August 1st until sunset of August 2nd.

[21] It is to this incident that the city of Los Angeles owes its name. The full baptismal name of the city is Nuestra Senora La Reina de los Angeles - Our Lady the Queen of the Angels. It was founded in 1781, by royal order, the second pueblo established in California.

[22] Rancheria is the name given to an Indian village or town.

[23] The Valley of the Bears.

[24] The diarists applied the word canada to either a canon or an open valley.

[25] The word ensenada, much used by the Spanish explorers, means a bight or open roadstead, not an enclosed and protected bay.

[26] "Transportar en Xamus al Modo que cominan las mujeres en Andalucia," Crespi: Palou's Noticias de la Nueva California, ii. 181.

[27] The names given on this portion of the route have all disappeared, but are here given as a suggestion to the Ocean Shore Railroad.

[28] The Fleas.

[29] It must be borne in mind that what they called the Bay or Port of San Francisco was that stretch of water reaching from Point Reyes to Point San Pedro and later known as the Gulf of the Farallones.

[30] Professor George Davidson says that what was seen by Portola from the Montara mountains was the break in the Ballenos cliffs, a deep narrow valley which runs straight from Ballenos bay to Tomales bay, fourteen miles.

[31] The Golden Gate and Bay of San Francisco.

[32] The Bay of San Francisco continued to be called the "Estero," until some time after Colonel Anza established the presidio and mission of San Francisco in 1776.

[33] The present name, Canada de San Andres, was given by Rivera, Nov. 30, 1714.

[34] On November, 1774, Rivera came up the peninsula on an exploring expedition and on the spot where he had camped with the first expedition in 1769, he planted a cross to mark the place for a mission. In March, 1776, Col. Juan Bautista de Anza, coming to select sites for the Presidio and Mission of San Francisco, notes this cross on the bank of the Arroyo de San Francisco (now San Francisquito creek), about one hundred paces above the great redwood tree, and says the plan for a mission there was abandoned because the creek was dry in summer. I note this explanation because an excellent authority has located Portola's camp on Redwood creek.

[35] I give to Ortega the credit of discovering the Golden Gate and the Straits of Carquinez. The testimony seems sufficient to me.

[36] Vizcaino to the King, May 23, 1603. Pub. Hist. Socy. of Southern California, Vol. ii, Part 1.

[37] On the day of the Holy Innocents it was not possible to say mass. We are sorry for it, because it is the only feast day in all the journey up to the present that we have been without mass. We are stuck in a mud hole and are unable to move from the place where we are all wet through, and it is not possible to make a journada to a plain that is dry for this is bubbling up water - Crespi, Diario.

[38] Crespi: Diario.

[39] Palou: Noticias de la Nueva California.

Data Regarding Don Gaspar de Portola After He Left California

by E. J. Molera

Portola and Costanso sailed, on July 9, 1770, for Mexico, to give to the viceroy an account of their discoveries. Costanso remained in the capital and took part in several engineering works, among others, the map of the Valley of Mexico and its drainage. Diligent search instituted by the writer in Mexico and Spain regarding Portola's further history, has so far discovered little beyond the fact that the commander's return to the capital was followed by promotion from Captain to Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Spanish Army, and his appointment as Governor of Puebla, February 23, 1777.

In the municipal archives of the city of Puebla, on page 33 of the folio covering the years 1776-1783, is the following description of Portola's taking possession of the office as Governor of that city and state:

"Possession of Governor Portola."

"In the session (meeting of February 23d, 1777), the council saw a royal title of Political and Military Governor of this city granted by his Majesty to Senor Don Gaspar de Portola, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Army, and also a superior order of his Excellency the Viceroy, Governor, and Captain General of this New Spain, in which is stated that said title has been forwarded."

"The President of the Council, standing and uncovered, took the title in his hand and kissed it and put it over his head, being a letter from the king, our master, and said that he would obey and he did obey its contents and in its provisions it was ordered that Lieutenant-Colonel Don Gaspar de Portola be given possession of said office, and for that purpose, said noble corporation went out with the heralds to bring him to this hail of sessions, and when he was in, a notary-public having certified to his identity, he swore to use faithfully and well the office of Governor, doing justice, punishing, and not burdening the poor with excessive taxes; to keep and cause to be kept, the rights, privileges, royal decrees and ordinances, etc."

"Having signed the oath, the president gave him the cane of Royal justice, by which the act of possession was completed."

In the same volume many decrees and ordinances are signed by Portola as Governor of Puebla.

That in the year 1779, Portola was still Governor of Puebla is proved by two original manuscripts in possession of the writer. One is a circular official notice to all the head authorities of Mexico, announcing the death of Viceroy Frey Don Antonio Bucareli y Ursua, and shown herewith; the other is a letter of Don Gaspar de Portola, dated April 17th, 1779.

Letter from the Viceroy of New Spain to Don Julian de Arriaga, Giving an Account of the arrival at San Blas of the Packet Boat San Carlos, Returning from the Survey of the Port of San Francisco. Document Obtained from the Archives of the Indies, Seville.

"My Dear Sir:"

"By courier sent to me from San Blas, I have just learned that the royal packet-boat San Carlos, under command of Lieutenant of the frigate Don Juan Manual Ayala, which with provisions and goods sailed for the harbor of Monterey, thence to the port of San Francisco, anchoring on the 6th inst. at San Blas."

"In the copies which I send herewith, of the extensive examination made by this officer and his pilot, Don Jose Canizares, your Excellency will see, in detail, all that was found advantageous, and the news obtained gives knowledge of all that that vast port contains and the facilities that is has to invernate[40] vessels. The docility and gentle manners of the heathen that live in its vicinity inspire hopes in the utility of the plan, on which I had previously determined, of colonizing this land."

"The letter of this officer, a copy of which is also enclosed, confirms everything, extolling the grandeur of the view of the port, the water, wood, and ballast with which it abounds, and although the climate is rather cold, it is healthy and free from the fogs found in Monterey."

"He gives an account of what happened on his return, and praises the merit of the pilot, Don Jose Canizares, in discharging the commission entrusted to him, and he recommends him to my attention, which I reserve to that of the King; at the same time recommending to Your Excellency that you remind His Majesty that this pilot is one of the most useful that the Department of San Blas has, and that in the voyages he has made has always shown the same honor, conduct, and intelligence as on the one just finished with such advantage to the service, because of the information and knowledge he has shown in the discharge of his duty."

"For his reward, I consider him worthy of the royal bounty, as well as Lieutenant of frigate, Don Juan Manuel de Ayala, for his part in such important work."

"That the Lord may keep you from harm for many years is my wish."

"Exmdeg.. Sr."

"Your most obedient servant who kisses Your Excellency's hands,"

"Bailio Frey D. Antonio Bucareli y Ursua."

"Mexico, November 26th, 1775. " "To His Excellency Sr. Bailio Frey Don Julian de Arriaga."

[40] Invernate - to winter.

Causes that Decided the Government of Spain to Send an Expedition by Sea to Ascertain if there were any Russian Settlements on the Coast of California, and to Examine the Port of San Francisco.

Father Junipero Serra had difficulty in obtaining from Commandant Fages the soldiers necessary to found the missions that were projected and notwithstanding his old age, he decided to go to the capital of Mexico to lay before the authorities his troubles. He sailed from San Diego in the mail boat San Carlos October 19, 1772, but, stricken by fever in Guadalajara, did not reach Mexico till February 16, 1773.

Viceroy Bucareli, then in command of the colony, made the orders he considered necessary for California, but his orders would have had but little effect or would have followed the slow process of all official business, had not an outside incident given them force.

Count de Lacy, then Minister Plenipotentiary of Spain to St. Petersburg, communicated to the court in Madrid, that the Russians were exploring the coast of America. He corroborated his statement with copies of the newspapers of the Russian capital[41]. This news with the corroborating proofs was sent to Bucareli with the Royal edicts of April 11th and September 23, 1773.

The result of this information was to give a better organization to the maritime department of San Blas and better regulations for California. It was also ordered that a settlement should be made at San Francisco; that better means of communication be established between San Diego and Monterey, and that an expedition should be sent to ascertain if the Russians had made settlements on the coast of California.

[41] Manuel Orozco y Berra, Apuntes Airs. la Historia de la Geografia an Mexico, Anales del Ministerio de Formento de la Republica Mexicana Tomo VI, p. 269. Documents in the Archives of the Indies, Seville.

The Log of the San Carlos

Alias Toison De Oro (Golden Fleece)

Under Command of

Lieutenant of Frigate of the Royal Navy Don Juan Manuel de Ayala

From the Port of San Blas to the Port of San Francisco


The First Ship to Enter the Port of San Francisco. Transcript of a Certified Copy of the Original, now in the Archives of the Indies, at Seville, Spain[42].


On the 19th of March, 1775, Lieutenant of Frigate, Don Juan Manuel de Ayala had the schooner under his command anchored near the white rock in the harbor of San Blas, waiting the sailing of the frigate Santiago to the west coast of California, when the commander of the expedition, Don Bruno de Ezeta, ordered him to deliver to Lieutenant of Frigate, Don Juan de la Bodega y Cuadra, the command of his schooner and take command of the packet boat, San Carlos, as her captain, Don Miguel Manrique, was sick and unable to make the voyage. Ayala obeyed the order and waited until the morning of the 21st, for the return of the launch which carried his predecessor to San Blas. He made everything ready on board to follow the frigate and schooner and he asked the commander of the expedition, Don Bruno de Ezeta, to take in his frigate some brown sugar and provisions which he could not accommodate in his boat except on deck where they were liable to be damaged.

At 3 p. m. of the 21st he sailed from the anchorage of San Blas with the wind east-northeast and on the following day came in sight of Isabela Island, lying about five miles to the west. On the 23rd he came in sight of the Maria Islands and saw the frigate and schooner going to the southeast of the islands, where he lost sight of them. Contrary winds and calm weather prevented the San Carlos from making any considerable progress. On the 26th, Ayala sent his pilot to see if he could obtain some water to replace that which had been consumed[43]. The pilot could not make a landing and consequently did not obtain any water. On April 2d, he saw Mazatlan and the packetboat Concepcion. The following day he came near the Concepcion, and the captain informed him that he had on board the governor of California[44]. From the Concepcion Ayala obtained six kegs of water. On the 4th of April a serious accident happened to the commander. When his predecessor was taken sick, he had a number of loaded pistols. Ayala ordered them placed where they could not injure anyone. In doing this, one fell and was discharged, the bullet entering the commander's foot between the second and third toes, coming out under the big toe. This accident caused him to keep his bed.

On the 7th of April, Cape San Lucas was seen to the north, distant about two leagues. On the 8th, Cape San Lucas was seen to the west, about twelve leagues distant. On account of contrary winds, the progress northward was very slow. On June 22d, while they were warming some pitch to calk the launch, it took fire, but was extinguished before great damage was done. On the same day indications of land were noted and some whales were seen, which the sailors say is the first sign of land. On the following day they saw some seals, which, according to the sailors, was the second sign of land. On the 24th, they saw some ducks, which, they say, is proof positive of land being near. On the same day land was sighted at 4 p. m.; the North Farallones of San Francisco were seen to the north and Point Ano Nuevo to the southeast. At 7 p. m., the South Farallones were seen at a distance of about two leagues to the northeast. The variation of the needle was observed and found to be 13deg. E.

Next day, at 9 a. m., the fog having lifted, land was seen and Point Ano Nuevo was recognized to the northwest about three leagues distant. At noon the sun's altitude was taken, and the latitude found to be 36deg. 58'. At 3 p. m. they took bearings to make Point Pinos, but this point could not be seen on account of the fog. At 4 p. m. the fog lifted, and at 5 p. m. they saw the point which protects the harbor of Monterey. The variation of the needle was observed and found to be 12deg. 58' E. They had some difficulty in finding good anchorage, but finally did so on a sandy bottom.

On the 26th of June, Commander Ayala sent his launch on shore with mail and documents, and on its return the vessel was made fast.

Ayala remained in the harbor of Monterey till July 26th, during which time he unloaded his cargo, took ballast, water, and fuel, mended sails and repaired the ship, which needed it badly, the sixth board under water at the poop having to be replaced for a length of one and one-half yards.

He got ready to start for the newly-discovered Port of San Francisco.


Starting from the shelter of Monterey, situated at latitude 36deg.deg. 33', longitude 16deg. 45' W. of San Blas to the newly-discovered Port of San Francisco, July 26, 1775.

That day it was impossible to sail on account of the wind coming from a contrary direction.

On July 27th, the launch towed the San Carlos until she came to the range of a southwest wind and sailed in a northwest direction[45]. At noon Point Pinos was seen bearing south 13deg. distant five miles; at 3 p. m. it had disappeared from view. Very soon after, Point Ano Nuevo came in sight and the land adjoining it, about four or five miles distant. From July 28th to August 3d, little progress was made on account of contrary winds from the northwest. On August 3d, at 1 p. m., land was seen to the east 1/4 northeast, distant about twelve leagues. It was found to be Point Ano Nuevo. At 7 p. m. another point came into view bearing north 1/4 northeast, distant about twelve leagues, which was considered to be Point Reyes. At 10 p. m., the wind being northwest, the San Carlos steered west-southwest and continued in that course until 8 a. m. of the 4th, when the bearing was changed to the north-northeast. At noon the sun's altitude was taken and the latitude was found to be 37deg. 11', and longitude 17deg. 51' W. of San Blas. At 6 p. m., August 4th, the southernmost Farallon of the Port of San Francisco was seen to the northwest, distant about eight leagues. The land to the north was Point Reyes, bearing 4deg. W., distant about fourteen leagues. At half past eleven, considering the coast was near, the course was changed to the south-southwest, until 3 a. m. of August 5th, when it was changed again to the north-northeast 5deg. north to bring the ship at sunrise to the point it was at sunset of the day before. At 5 a. m. four of the Farallones of San Francisco were seen to the north-northwest, distant four leagues. Point Ano Nuevo was southeast 1/4 east from twelve to fourteen leagues and Point Almejas northeast 4deg. east, distant three leagues. At 8 a. m., being near land, commander Ayala lowered the launch, and in it Pilot Canizares was sent with ten men to search for an anchorage, while the San Carlos continued along the coast. At 9 a. m. a strong current was felt, which drove them to sea, but at eleven it was observed that the vessel was nearing the coast, which convinced the commander that it was due to the tide, and this was confirmed by the soundings; in entering the port, as on the first occasion, the tide was going out, and on the second one the tide was coming in. The altitude of the sun was taken at noon of that day, with the utmost care, and the latitude was found to be 37deg. 42' and the longitude 17deg. 14' W. of San Blas. At this time Point Ano Nuevo was about fourteen leagues distant to the southeast south; the Farallones to the northwest, distant four leagues, and Point Reyes north 1/4 northeast, distant four leagues. The wind was from the west. At 4 p. m. the vessel was steered to the north-northeast, and half an hour later soundings were taken and bottom found at sixteen brazas[46] of mud and sand mixed, and distant from the mouth about two leagues. At 5 p. m. bottom was found at fifteen brazas, with the same kind of bottom material. Sounding was continued and the bottom was found to be as noted in the large map. The current was so great at the mouth of this port that at 8:30 p. m., with a strong wind from the west-southwest with full sails, the current allowed them to go not more than a mile and a half per hour, which shows that the current must go at least six miles at the middle of the channel. The swiftness of the current, the fact that the launch had not returned and that night was coming on, made it necessary to seek for an anchorage; this was done with great care and precaution; as the force of the wind made it necessary to have full sail, it was feared that some of the rigging might give way. For that reason, soundings were taken continually with a 20-lb. lead, and a line of sixty brazas could not reach bottom, either in the channel or near the point. This seemed very strange until it was realized that the current was carrying the lead and it did not strike bottom. They continued thus until they were one league inside the mouth of the bay and a quarter of a mile from the shore, when the wind suddenly stopped. Finding that the current was carrying the ship towards the mouth, an anchor was thrown overboard, after having made it fast to the big mast so that if it did not catch the bottom it would not be lost. It was found that the anchor held. Two more anchors were made ready to drop in case the big one should drag. When the wind stopped and the current ceased, the vessel was found to be in twenty-two brazas, with sandy bottom[47].

At 6 a. m. of August 6, the launch, which had not been seen since sunset the day before, came to the vessel. The pilot was asked why he had not come to meet the ship when he saw her sailing shoreward looking for the entrance of the bay, answered that at 6 p. m. he had seen a suitable harbor for the packet-boat to the east of the entrance, and when he attempted to go out the whirlpools and eddies caused by the current were such that it was impossible to make any progress, as the current carried him back towards the shore, so that he determined to stay in the harbor he had attempted to leave. This, and the fact that the men were fired out, made him wait until 4 a. m., when he again attempted to go out, with the same result as before. During his efforts to get out, he saw the packet-boat, and putting the bow towards her he had no difficulty in reaching her.

At 7 a. m., the commander sent the pilot to examine a harbor which was to the west-northwest. He found it useless, because, though it had sufficient water, the bottom was sticky mud. As Ayala was not in need of shelter then, he did not enter that harbor, as he was afraid of losing his anchor in the mud, and also because it was open from the south to the east, although the wind came from the landward which was about two leagues from the harbor[48]. He called this harbor "Carmeita," because in it was a rock resembling a friar of that order. There was in its vicinity an Indian village, the inhabitants of which came out from their huts and cried out and made signs for the vessel to go near them. As the sailors were taking soundings and came near the shore, the Indians erected a pole, at the top of which was a large number of feathers. The sailors having no orders to answer them, remained at a distance from the shore. The Indians, thinking, no doubt, that the sailors were afraid of them, endeavored to assure them by dropping their bows to the ground, and after describing a circle in the air with the arrows stuck them in the sand. The launch came on board again, and soon after, the Indians, from a point of land near the vessel, talked to the sailors with loud cries, and although their voices were heard distinctly, they could not be understood for want of an interpreter. At 9 the launch was sent again to another harbor to the north, which seemed to be better sheltered and to have better anchorage[49]. It was so, and when the launch returned at 10, the pilot stated that he found bottom at eight to fourteen brazas, and the bottom was sticky with mud. At 3 p. m. the vessel sailed towards the place examined, but a strong current prevented her reaching it. It was then decided to anchor in fifteen brazas, sandy bottom, and they stayed there all night, during which time the vessel moved on account of the bad quality of the anchors.

On the 7th, at 9 a. m., the vessel was started towards a large and fine-looking harbor which seemed commodious. Soundings were taken, and the bottom was found at twelve to fourteen brazas. It had been decided to go to the end of it, but the tide was contrary and it was necessary to return to the vessel at 1 p. m. Indians from the shore were calling to the men with loud cries, and the commander decided to send the launch with the priest, the pilot, and armed men, with orders that they must not molest the Indians but treat them well and make them presents, for which purpose the commander gave the men beads and other trinkets and ordered them to observe good precaution, so that in case the Indians showed fight they could easily return to the launch, where four armed men must always remain to protect the retreat. It is true that from the day when intercourse was first had with the Indians, it was seen how affable and hospitable they were, showing the greatest desire for the Spaniards to go to their village, where, they said, they could eat and sleep. They had already prepared on shore a meal of pinole, bread from their corn, and tomales of the same. During the time the Spaniards were with the Indians, they found that the latter repeated the Spanish words with great facility, and by signs the Spaniards asked the Indians to go on board the packet boat, but the Indians, also by signs, signified that until the Spaniards should visit their village, they could not go on board. After a little while the Spaniards returned to the boat and the Indians disappeared.

On the 8th, the pilot, with men, was sent in the launch to explore the bay, and on the 9th returned and made his report.

On the 12th the launch was lowered to look for a better anchorage near Angel Island, which is the largest in this bay, and many good places were found. It was also thought a good idea to examine another island, which was found to be very steep and barren and would not afford shelter even for the launch. This island was called "Alcatraz"[50] on account of the abundance of those birds that were on it.

On the 13th the vessel moved to another anchorage with nine brazas of water at pistol shot of the land. On the 21st, the first pilot, Don Jose de Canizares, returned from an expedition on which he had been sent a few days before and made his report. On the same day, the second pilot, Don Juan B. Aguirre, went, with fresh men, in the launch to try to find the party which the commander of the presidio had promised to send to San Francisco by land. The second pilot did not see the party, but explored an estero which enters the land about twelve leagues[51].

On the 23d fifteen Indians came on a raft and were taken on board, where they were entertained and given something to eat. They learned how to ask for bread in Spanish.

From this day to the 6th of September, the explorations of the Bay of San Francisco continued, and first pilot Don Jose de Canizares was instructed to make his report and the map of the bay.

On September 7th an attempt was made to go to sea for the return voyage, but the rudder was injured by a submerged rock on which the current had carried the vessel.

From this day to September 18th, the time was passed in repairing the rudder and making preparations for the return voyage, which took place on that day, going to Monterey, where they arrived the following day.

In order to make the necessary repairs to the ship and pass the equinox in good shelter, the San Carlos remained in the harbor of Monterey till October 13, 1775, when she started for San Blas, where she arrived on November 6th of the same year.

[42] This is a summary of the document. A full translation would be too tedious for a work of this kind.

[43] On the Tres Marias Islands.

[44] Don Pedro Fages. Commandante of California, who had been recalled.

[45] Bancroft. Hist. of Cal., says Ayala sailed from Monterey, July 24th. That was to make the sailing fit the Bancroft theories.

[46] Braza - Fathom: Six feet.

[47] Ayala anchored inside Port Point - the Presidio anchorage.

[48] Richardson's Bay.

[49] Angel Island.

[50] Alcatraz - Pelican

[51] The Southern portion of the bay.

Report of Don Juan Manuel de Ayala Commander of the Packet Boat San Carlos to Don Antonio Maria Bucareli Viceroy of New Spain On the Examination of the Port of San Francisco

Your Excellency: - I have finished the orders under which I took command of the San Carlos, returning to this port of San Blas today, November 6th, after having visited the ports of Monterey and San Francisco.

Although Your Excellency will see in the account of my examination, together with the pilot, Don Jose Canizares' report of his examination and the map he made of this port, the nature of the work done. I will, notwithstanding in this, give a brief account, that shows the port of San Francisco to be one of the best that I have seen on this coast from Cape Horn.

After one hundred and one days of navigation, I arrived at the harbor of Monterey, where I had to remain till July 27th, discharging the cargo and making some repairs necessary for the safety of my vessel. On July 27th, I started in search of the Port of San Francisco, where I arrived on the night of August 5th. I remained there forty-four days, inspecting by myself, or by my pilot, with all possible accuracy, everything that pertains to this matter.

It is true that this port is good, not only for the beautiful harmony that offers to the view, but because it does not lack very good fresh water, wood, and ballast in abundance. Its climate though cold, is healthful and free from those troublesome fogs which we had daily in Monterey, because the fogs here hardly reach the entrance of the port, and once inside the harbor, the weather is very clear. To these many advantages is to be added the best: and this is that the heathen Indians around this port are so constant in their good friendship and so gentle in their manners, that I received them with pleasure on board several times, and I had the sailors frequently visit with them on land; so that from the first to the last day, they remained the same in their behavior. This made me present them with trinkets, beads, and biscuit; the last they learned to ask for clearly in our language.

There is no doubt that this good friendship was a great comfort to us, enabling us to make with less fear the reconnaissance that was ordered of me. Although in a letter written by Your Excellency to my predecessor, Don Miguel Manrique, dated January 2d, I read that it was possible we might find in San Francisco the land expedition undertaken by Captain Don Juan de Anza; I did not on that account refuse the offer of another small land expedition which the Captain of Monterey, Don Fernando de Rivera, made me. I did not see either of them while I remained in that port, but I did not, on that account, postpone the reconnaissance. I could not do all of this in person, because I was convalescing from a serious wound in my right foot, received April 3d by the accidental discharge of a double-barrel pistol, which Don Miguel Manrique had left loaded in the cabin. Notwithstanding this, I am satisfied that Don Jose Canizares executed with his usual ability everything I entrusted to his care. I therefore state to Your Excellency (in order that the merit of his work may not be ignored), that as long as he was with me, he acted not only with his usual honesty, but showed such great talent in his profession that in the midst of my troubles I found him one to entrust with the more delicate points of my duty.

On September 7th, I decided to leave the Port of San Francisco, as I considered the reconnaissance completed, and in doing this, having no wind, I was carried by the strong current against some rocks, injuring the rudder and breaking two female and one male bolts. This obliged me to enter a cove, where I repaired as well as possible the accident, and again tried to sail forth, a light breeze from the north (the only one I noticed in the forty-four days) aiding the sailing. On the 18th, because the rudder was injured, and those who had been on this coast before had warned me that at this time of year the weather was very severe, I determined to pass the Equinox at Monterey, and arrived there on the 19th. At this port I found the frigate Santiago. The schooner came October 7th, and I left for San Blas on the 13th, where I am sick of my foot, but always desirous to obey Your Excellency.

I pray the Lord to keep the life of Your Excellency many years.

San Blas, November 9, 1775.

Juan Manuel de Ayala.

To His Excellency, Bailio Frey Don Antonio Maria Bucareli.

Description of the Newly-discovered Port of San Francisco

Situated in Latitude 37deg. 53' North, Longitude 17deg. 10' West of San Blas

by Lieutenant Don Juan Manuel Ayala

Placed about two leagues west-southwest of Point Almejas[52], latitude 37deg. 42', the following is to be seen: First that it[53] is large, with two red barrancas[54], and second, that to the north there are three white rocks at a stone's throw[55]. From that point the coast runs north-northeast, forming a small harbor in which there are five submerged rocks close to its shore; above it some white barrancas[56], ending in a sloping bill which top, to the north, is what is called Angel Point[57]. This has near it several rocks[58], the furtherest one a gunshot distant. From this point there is a harbor sufficient to accommodate any vessel[59], not only on account of its bottom, but because it is sheltered from all winds excepting those from the west-southwest. The middle of this harbor is to the northwest, where a copious creek empties[60]; the point runs northeast 1/4 east. This harbor, with the one inside of it, which I called San Jose[61], has been found very good, with the prevailing winds from the south to the northwest.

From Pt. Almejas to the northwest 1/4 west, four Farallones are seen, distant about four leagues. The one southernmost looks like a sugar-loaf. To the northwest 1/4 north, at a distance of about twelve leagues, a mountain[62] is seen which ends in a low point. According to the records of Sebastian Vizcaino and coast pilot of Cabrera Bueno, this is the one called Point Reyes. From this point the coast runs east-southeast in the shape of a half-moon, open to all winds of the third quarter and ending in two barrancas at the foot of which a low point comes out with two submerged rocks. This point was called Santiago[63], and, with one called Angel de la Guarda, forms the mouth of the channel of the entrance of the port[64]. Following this shore in a northeast direction, another harbor is to be found within three small rocks near the shore which, in case of necessity, may shelter any vessel. This harbor[65] ends on the north with a large, steep, and broken point, at the foot of which there is a white farallon to which and to the point I gave the name of San Carlos[66], and with Point San Jose, which is distant about half a league, forms the entrance of this famous port. It is to be borne in mind that any vessel that enters or leaves this port must take the precaution not to come near San Carlos Point, because in this place exist violent whirlpools which make useless the rudder, but must take the middle of the channel or sail near the shores of San Jose Point.

To the northeast 1/4 north of the middle of the entrance, an island[67] is seen, distant about one and a half leagues. This island divides the water of the flood in two channels in which a vessel may anchor, especially in the one that runs northeast 1/4 north near the island where water and wood are to be found in abundance. The vicinity of the island is such good anchorage that a vessel can anchor within a pistol-shot of the shore.

To the east-northeast of Point San Jose there is a sheltered harbor, landlocked, with bottom which diminishes gradually to the shore, where water and some wood are to be found[68]. In this harbor there is no current, and for that reason, and because it is so near the point I consider, it one of the best anchorages.

Once Points San Jose and San Carlos have been passed, and taking care to leave at one side the principal channel, an anchorage can be made at any place, because it is sheltered from all winds; the only thing to avoid is the current, which in the principal channel is five miles, and in its branches three miles.

This report was made to me by Pilot Don Jose Canizares, to whom I entrusted the examination of the port, because I was seriously sick.

[52] Pt. San Pedro.

[53] That is: Pt. Almejas or Pt. San Pedro.

[54] Barranca: The dictionary definition is a ravine or gulch, but it also means a high bluff or cliff and in that sense is used by these explorers.

[55] i. e.: from Pt. Almejas.

[56] Cliff Rouse Rocks.

[57] Punta del Angel de la Guarda - Point Lobos.

[58] Seal Rocks.

[59] Bakers Beach.

[60] Lobos Creek.

[61] i. e.: Inside of Point San Jose - Fort Point.

[62] Tamalpais

[63] Point Bonita. The present name was given it in 1776.

[64] Golden Gate Strait.

[65] i. e.: The outer harbor; outside of the Golden Gate.

[66] Lime Point.

[67] Angel Island.

[68] The Presidio anchorage.

Reconnaissance of the Port of San Francisco, with Map


Report of the Pilot Don Jose de Canizares to Commander Don Juan de Ayala


Translation of a Certified Copy of the Original in the Archives of the Indies at Seville.

Dear Captain: - During the four times that I made reconnaissance of this Port, and made its map, I found at the northeast and north-northeast what is shown on the map and I here describe. To the north-northeast of Angel Island, distant about a mile, there is a bay running in a direction north-northwest to south-southwest. The distance between the points forming said bay, is about two leagues, and the shore line is about two and a half leagues. To the northwest of the shore there are three small islands, forming between them and the shore a narrow passage of shallow water closed to the southwest. This bay is all surrounded with hills with few trees, which are mostly laurel and oak, but at a distance to the west-northwest, is visible a wood of what seems to be pines. In the middle of this bay is standing a high farallon with submerged rocks around it. On the northeast of it there is sufficient water for anchorage, as is shown on the map. There is no doubt of its being good anchorage for vessels, provided they have good cables and anchors, for they are subject to great stress because of the current, which at this point, cannot be less than four miles an hour[69].

North-northeast of said bay there is a mouth about two miles wide, where there are four small white rocks, the two north ones with the two south ones[70] form a channel of nine brazas depth. From this, one passes to another bay[71] more spacious, the diameter of which is about eight leagues, its shape a perfect isosceles triangle; its mouth is divided into two channels, - one, on the side of the southwest coast, turns to the northwest at about the distance of a mile and ends in two large harbors which are situated in the same shore at about four league's distance from the mouth that communicates with the first bay; from the northwest point of the furthest harbor to the north of it, distant about one and a half leagues, in turning a point to the west-northwest, a large body of water[72] is seen, which I did not examine because the channel which leads to it is extremely limited, its depth not having three codos[73] of water; from here to the east-northeast follows a low-lying island, just above the water level, ending in a division made by the hills[74]. The other channel, which is roomy and deep, runs directly in a northeast direction till it reaches the division of the hills through a canon that runs in the same direction.

All the bay, which is called the round bay (Bahia Redondo), though it is not shaped that way, is surrounded with steep hills, without trees, excepting two spots on the slopes fronting the two harbors to the southwest. The rest of it is arid, rugged, and of a melancholic aspect. Outside of the channels there is in this bay about five codos of water, and at low tide two and a half, and in some places it is dry. It is not difficult to enter this bay, but going out will be difficult on account of the wind from the southwest. After a careful examination of its shore, I did not find any fresh water or any signs of it. Standing in the canon, which is to the northeast, there is a channel[75] a mile and a half wide, deep and clear. East of its entrance there is a rancheria of about four hundred souls. I had dealings with them, but did not buy anything, though I presented them with beads, which you had given me for that purpose, and some old clothing of mine. Their acquaintance was useful to my men and to me, as they presented us with exquisite fishes (amongst them salmon), seeds, and pinole. I had opportunity of visiting them four times and found them always as friendly as the first time, noticing in them polite manners, and what is better, modesty and retirement in the women. They are not disposed to beg, but accept with good will what is given them, without being impertinent, as are many others I have seen during the conquest. This Indian village has some scows or canoes, made of tule, so well constructed and woven that they caused me great admiration. Four men get in them to go fishing, pushing with two-ended oars with such speed that I found they went faster than the launch. These were the only Indians with whom I had communication in this northern part.

Following said channel a distance to the west from its mouth, there is a harbor, so commodious, accessible, abundant in fresh water and wood, and sheltered from all winds, that I considered it one of the best inland ports that our Sovereign has for anchoring a fleet of vessels. I called it Puerto de la Asumpta, having examined it the day of the festivity of that saint[76].

To the southeast of this port[77] the canon continues, until it joins the channel of the Indian village. Following a distance of three leagues in an east-northeast direction, it enters another bay[78] with a depth of thirteen brazas, diminishing to four where some rivers[79] empty and take the saltiness of the water which there becomes sweet, the same as in a lake. The rivers come, one from the east-northeast (this is the largest, about two hundred and fifty yards wide), the other, which has many branches, comes from the northeast through tulares and swamps in very low land, the channels not over two brazas with sandy bars at their mouths, where I found in sounding the water not more than a half braza. This made me think they were not navigable, especially as on the second occasion I entered them, I touched bottom both in the channels and on the bars. The bay where these rivers empty, is another port larger than the Asumpta, where any vessel may enter, but it would be difficult to obtain wood, which is far from the shore. All the eastern coast is covered with trees; that to the west is arid, dry, full of grasshoppers, and impossible of settlement. This is all I have reconnoitered to the north of Angel Island. To the southeast of said island following the estero is as follows:

To the east of this island, at a distance of about two leagues, there is another, steep and barren, without any shelter, which divides the mouth of the channel in two[80], through which the sea enters to a distance of about twelve leagues. The width of this channel is in some parts, one, two, and three leagues; its depth is not over four brazas, its width ample, but a pistol shot outside of the channel; its depth is not over two brazas. The extreme end of this sound, eastward, forms with a point, a pocket, which, at low tide is nearly dry[81]. In every part there are seen poles driven in (the mud), with black feathers, bunches of tule, and little shells, which I believe are buoys for fishing, since they are in the water. I think it will be impossible to anchor for three leagues inside of this slough, because it is so exposed to the weather that strong cables and good anchorage are needed to hold against the strong current from the north.

The northeast part of this slough is surrounded by high hills, and has in its mouth a thick wood of oaks, and at the other end groves of thick redwood trees. At the southwest of the coast is a small slough, navigable only by launches[82], and on the coast two harbors[83] where vessels can anchor. On the more eastern one there is an Indian village, rough, like the ones in Monterey. This part seems to have better places for missions, though I did not examine it except from a distance.

All the above stated in this report is what I observed, saw, surveyed, and sounded, during the days, in which by your orders, I went to the reconnoitering of this Port of San Francisco in its interior; and as proof of it, I sign it in this new Port of San Francisco, at the shelter of Angel Island, on September 7th, 1775.

Jose de Canizares.

[69] This is the body of water between Pt. San Pedro, Pt. San Pablo, Pt. Richmond and Tiburon Peninsula. The high farallon is Red Rock.

[70] The rocks are The Sisters and The Brothers.

[71] San Pablo Bay.

[72] Napa Slough. The marsh was evidently under water, and island number one, with Mare Island, made one long island.

[73] Codo - 1 1/2 feet.

[74] Mare Island. The division of the hills or canon is Carquines Strait.

[75] Carquines Straits.

[76] The Assumption of the Virgin - August 15th. It is Southampton bay.

[77] That is, from Puerto de la Asumpta.

[78] Suisun Bay.

[79] The Sacramento and San Joaquin. Suisun Bay was long known as Puerto Dulce - Freshwater Port.

[80] Yerba Buena or Goat Island. Canizaries marked it on the map (c) for isla do Alcatraces, but that evidently was a mistake, as a comparison of the entry in the Log under date of August 12, with the map will show.

[81] Oakland and Berkeley tide flats.

[82] Islais creek.

[83] Yerba Buena cove and Mission bay.

Index of Places

Acapulco Alcatraz Island Almejas, El Rincon de las Almejas, Punta del Angel Island Angel Point Ano Nuevo, Punta de Arroyo de San Francisco Arroyo Seco Baker's Beach Barranca Ballenas Bay Bonita, Point Brazas California, Baja California, Gulf of Canada Canada do los Osos Canada do San Andres Carmelo, Pt Carmelo, bay Carmelo, Rio del Carquines, strait Cerralbo, Bay of Codo Columbia river Concepcion, Laguna de la Concepcion, Point Dieguenos Drake's Bay El Buchon El Oso Flaco Ensenada Farallones de San Francisco Farallones, Gulf of Florida Fort Point Golden Gate Golden Gate, strait Guadalupe, lake Islais creek Jesus de los Temblores, Rio de La Paz, Bay of La Paz, port of Lime Point Lobos creek Loreto, presidio of Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles, river Napa slough Mare Island Mendocino, Cape Mescaltitan Mission bay Montara mountains Monterey, Bay of Monterey, Port of Monterey, presidio and mission of Muertos, Punta de los Navidad, Puerto de Oakland Flats Pajaro, Rio del Pedernales, Point Philippine Islands Pilar Point Pinos, Punta de Porciuncula, Indulgence Puerto Dulce Punta del Angel de la Guarda Presidio anchorage Rancheria Reyes, Punta de los Reyes, Rio de los Richardson's bay Red Rock Ross, Fort San Blas San Buenaventura, mission of San Carlos, Point San Clemente, island San Corpoforo, canon San Diego San Diego, bay San Diego, Founding of mission San Diego, presidio of San EIizario, Rio de San Fernando, valley San Francisco, Bahia o Puerto de San Francisco, Bay of San Francisco, Port of San Francisco, creek San Gabriel, valley San Joaquin river San Jose, Point San Juan Capistrano, mission of San Lorenzo, Rio de San Luis Obispo San Luis Rey, mission of San Miguel (island) San Nicolas, Isla de San Pablo bay San Pedro bay San Pedro Point San Pedro valley Santa Ana, Rio de Santa Barbara Channel Santa Barbara Isla de Santa Barbara presidio of Santa Catalina, island Santa Clara, river Santa Inez, river Santa Lucia, Sierra de Santa Maria, mission of Santa Rosa, river Santa Susana, Sierra de Sacramento, river Sal, Point Salines, river Santiago, Point Seal Rocks Suisun bay Tamalpais, mountain The Brothers (rocks) The Sisters (rocks) Tomales bay Velicata Yerba Buena cove

Index of Persons

Aguilar, Martin Aguirre, Juan B. Alvarado, Juan Bautista Amador, Pedro Anza, Juan Bautista de Arriaga, Julian de Ayala, Juan Manuel Bancroft, H. H. Bodega y Quadra, Juan de la Bolanos, Francisco Bucareli, Antonio Maria Bueno, Cabrera Cabrillo, Juan Rodrigues Canizares, Jose Carrillo, Jose Raimundo Cermenon, Sebastian Coronado, Francisco Vasquez Cortes, Hernando Corvan, Toribio Gomez de Costanso, Miguel Cota, Pablo de Crespi, Juan Davidson, George De Gali, Francisco De Soto, Hernando Drake, Francis Estorace, Jorge Fages, Pedro Ferrelo, Bartolome Figueroa, Rodriga de Fletcher, Francis Galvez, Jose de Gomez, Fray Francisco Griffin, George Butler Heceta, Bruno de Jiminez (Fortun) Laut, Agnes C. Legaspi, Miguel Lopez de Lummis, Chas. F. Maldonado, Gabriel Manrique, Miguel Mendoza, Antonio de Monterey, Conde de Morgana, Juan de Oliveros, Jose Ignacio Ortega, Jose Francisco Palou, Fray Francisco Perez, Juan Parron, Fray Fernando Pino, Miguel del Portola, Gaspar de Prat, Pedro Rivera y Moncada, Fernando de Salcedo, Felipe Serra, Fray Junipero Soberanes, Jose Maria Vancouver, Captain George Velasco, Luis de Vila, Vicente Vizcaino, Fray Juan Vizcaino, Sebastian Yorba, Jose Antonio Zuniga y Asevedo, Gaspar de


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