I have been sleuthing through some mid-20th century reports and journals authored by scholars and historians claiming an inlet within Point Reyes National Seashore as “THE” spot where Sir Francis Drake stopped to make repairs on his Tudor galleon, the Golden Hind, the first English ship to sail around the world. Without concrete proof, and what actual evidence would there be from the 16th century, authenticating the claim has been challenging.
The seriousness with which some took on this challenge unfortunately exposed their vulnerability. In came the pranksters.
I love the story of the 1936 discovery of “Drake’s Plate,” a brass plaque purported to have been left by Drake as his marker claiming the New World for England. What good fortune to finally have proof of Drake’s arrival wash ashore near Drake’s Bay in Point Reyes, California!
I can hardly write about this without giggling. Certainly not all historians were convinced of its authenticity, but that didn’t prevent it touring the world or being exhibited at the Smithsonian. A copy of the plate was even presented to Queen Elizabeth. In 2003, after many years of study–it must have been a very good forgery–the well-orchestrated hoax was finally put to rest.
Fortunately the infamous brass plate wasn’t a necessary piece to form the final puzzle.
Members of the Drake Navigators Guild, a Northern California organization of historians, claimed more than 50 detailed clues identifying Drakes Cove, an inlet near the larger Drakes Bay, as the site of Drake’s landing.
One clue may have been the one hundred or so shipwrecks known to have gone down near Drake’s Bay. The first recorded was a Spanish galleon, the San Agustin lost in 1595, and only a few months ago marine archaeologists recovered the skeleton of The Ituna, a ship that sank off the coast in 1920. There were dozens more.
And what of modern-day shipwrecks?
For a little more information on what I found an interesting photo opportunity, you can read HERE. We just stumbled upon it while getting groceries to take back to our accommodations, and I couldn’t resist tromping through the mud to get a closer look. I didn’t learn until later that it’s a well-known landmark, beached on Tomales Bay.
Tomales Bay separates the Point Reyes Peninsula from the mainland of Marin County. If you like oysters…
How about we visit Tomales Bay next week?