Fringe theories on the location of New Albion
Sir Francis Drake's landing on the west coast of North America in 1579 has drawn the attention of scores of historians, geographers, linguists, anthropologists and other professionals. In addition, many history buffs have sought to locate Drake's New Albion. More than a score of ideas have been put forth—covering the coast from Alaska to Southern California. These ideas span the eighteenth through the early twenty-first centuries.
- 1 Accepted site
- 2 Other ideas
- 2.1 Prince William Sound
- 2.2 Stephens Passage
- 2.3 Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
- 2.4 Boundary Bay, BC
- 2.5 Birch Bay, Washington
- 2.6 Lummi Bay, Washington
- 2.7 Sandy Point, Washington
- 2.8 Strait of Juan de Fuca
- 2.9 Nehalem Bay, Tillamook County, Oregon
- 2.10 Whale Cove, Lincoln County, Oregon
- 2.11 Oregon Dunes, Oregon
- 2.12 South Cove, Oregon
- 2.13 Port Orford, Coos County, Oregon
- 2.14 Chetco River, Curry County, Oregon
- 2.15 Trinidad Bay, Humboldt County, California
- 2.16 Campbell Cove, Bodega Bay, Sonoma County, California
- 2.17 Tomales Bay, Marin County, California
- 2.18 Drakes Bay, Marin County, California
- 2.19 Bolinas Bay, Marin County, California
- 2.20 San Francisco Bay, California
- 2.21 Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County, California
- 2.22 Point Año Nuevo Cove, San Mateo County, California
- 2.23 Monterey Bay, Monterey County, California
- 2.24 Carmel River, Monterey County, California
- 2.25 Pirate's Cove, San Luis Obispo Bay, San Luis Obispo County, California
- 2.26 Goleta, Santa Barbara County, California
- 3 References
More than twenty other locations have been advanced as the site of Drake's port. Davidson recognized a plethora of confusion from chiefly armchair historians including Samuel Johnson and Jules Verne. Brian Kelleher has published the most extensive listing of individual's opinions of the Drake landing site comprising over 140 people.
Some writers have suggested that Queen Elizabeth's desire to maintain secrecy of the locations and extent of Drake's north Pacific explorations led to suppression and obfuscation of the reports. The defeat of the Spanish Armada by Drake in 1588 obviated the need for any secrecy. Michael Turner's visits to Drake sites around the world show that the records are very accurate.
Following the coast from north to south, the suggested locations include
Prince William Sound
Laird Nelson proposed that Drake sailed as far north as Prince William Sound, Alaska based on the westward run of the land in the area. Laird believes Drake was at 58 degrees north and "may have been even further north." Drake then turned south to anchor at Birch Bay, Washington.
Samuel Bawlf maps Drake's voyage as far north as the Stephens Passage in the now state of Alaska. Bawlf proposes that Drake established New Albion at Comox Bay (see below) and careened the Golden Hinde at Whale Cove (see below).
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC
In December, 2013, metal detector operator Bruce Campbell found an English coin made between 1551 and 1553 near Victoria, British Columbia. While Campbell believes the coin is only the oldest thing he's likely to ever find, and Royal British Columbia Museum curator Grant Keddie did not believe the find can be connected to Drake, Samuel Bawlf (see below) says the coin is proof the English arrived here (Canada) first. Loose finds such as coins have little value in establishing landing sites.
Comox Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
In 2003 Canadian R. Samuel Bawlf suggested that Drake's New Albion was Vancouver Island and that Drake erected a post containing such a proclamation at what is today Comox, British Columbia, located on Vancouver Island. Bawlf supports the idea that Drake completed the "Neahkahnie Mountain Survey" and believes Drake careened the Golden Hind in Whale Cove, Oregon. He points to a number of pieces of evidence in support of his view that the official published record of Drake's voyage was deliberately altered to suppress the true extent of his discoveries. Bawlf also relies heavily upon the configuration of the coastline as depicted in some of the maps and globes of the era, including the so-called French and Dutch Drake Maps which depict his voyage as having reached a point northward of a chain of islands to the northwest of New Spain and other maps depicting New Albion at latitudes above those of northern California, such as Richard Hakluyt's 1587 map of the New World showing Nova Albion at 50 degrees north latitude. Bawlf also placed emphasis on the fact that on an initial rendition of his globe in 1592 Emery Molyneux depicted the line of the coast of North America behind Vancouver Island with remarkable accuracy, although the islands themselves, depicted on the French and Dutch Drake maps, do not appear.
Although Bob Ward initially drew some of the discrepancies between the official published accounts of Drake's voyage and other documents to Bawlf's attention, and concluded that Drake likely sailed much farther to the north than northern California, he has been critical of some of Bawlf's conclusions, such as Drake's erecting a post proclaiming New Albion at what is now Comox Bay.
Bawlf's work has also been criticized by Edward Von der Porten, who calculated that Bawlf's theory requires the Golden Hinde to have traveled "an average of 5.95 knots... in a ship capable of less than one knot in those conditions." Further, Bawlf fails to identify the white cliffs, the Islands of St. James or the Coast Miwok People. Von der Porten states that Bawlf "has no evidence for either the conspiracy or his 'ten degree rule.'"
Dr. John Sugden describes Bawlf's proposed route for Drake into Alaska and British Columbia, then concludes, "There is simply no evidence for this adventure, which even Bawlf admits is 'impossible' to reconcile with the records of the voyage."
Foul Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
In 2013, Bob Graham proposed that Drake landed at Foul Bay  Foul Bay is within the City of Victoria, at the city's southeast corner.at the southern end of Vancouver Island.
Boundary Bay, BC
Birch Bay, Washington
Fisherman Laird Nelson has proposed that Drake left Guatulco, Mexico, headed west 2,100 miles, then magnetic north for 2,700 miles with three ships: the un-renamed Pelican; the Los Reyes, a captured Spanish vessel; and a pinnace. From that point, the ships travelled an additional 550 miles north to Prince William Sound and back along the coast. The ships then travelled 700 miles south through the Inside Passage to the first of three landing sites: Birch Bay. Here, on the third day, the Pelican sank.
Nelson does not explain how Drake could have covered 5,350 miles west and north when The World Encompassed establishes the distance traveled as 1,400 English 16th-Century leagues which is only 4,000 miles. (Laird's distance of 4,800 miles for the west and first portion north is equivalent to 1,400 modern leagues.) Laird's proposal has Drake traveling the entire distance and dangerous Inside Passage at surprising speed, covering the 6,600 miles in 62 days.
Lummi Bay, Washington
Nelson proposed that after the loss of his flagship, Drake explored in a small boat for five days and then moved the Los Reyes to a second port at Lummi Bay, Washington. Here Drake careened the Los Reyes..
Sandy Point, Washington
Nelson puts Drake's second anchorage at Sandy Point, Washington, a part of Lummi Bay, where Drake reportedly spent the second week of his New Albion visit. At Post Point, within Bellingham Bay, Drake created his "monument", a rock carvings in the cliff face of King Henry VIII and his sixth wife Katherine Parr. Initials attributed to the carver, Richard Cadwell were inscribed. The 3 ton rock carvings have been knocked down, but still there in 2000. The Plate of Brasse refers to the "thick coat of bottom paint" the carver put over the carvings.
Strait of Juan de Fuca
It should be noted that the Strait of Juan de Fuca is the only practical access to Comox Bay, given the difficult waters and warlike tribes of the Johnstone Strait.
Nehalem Bay, Tillamook County, Oregon
In 1971, Don Viles and Wayne Jensen published the idea that Drake landed at Nehalem Bay.[source?]
Garry Gitzen has continued to support this idea. Gitzen claims the "Neahkahnie Mountain Survey," the Hondius Map, the Edward Wright World Chart of 1599, the Nehalem Indians and the Three Arch Rocks prove Drake's landing site was in Nehalem Bay, Oregon as well as the Indian culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Gitzen argues that the "Survey" is a formal survey by Robert Schultz A.S.C.E and Phillip Costaggini's 1981 Oregon State thesis "Survey of Artifacts at Neahkahnie Mountain Oregon (1976-1981" of the coastal area two to four miles north of Nehalem Bay encompassing the area up to one mile over the countryside of Neahkahnie Mountain. The incised rocks and carins are explained as recordings of a land survey and latitude showing angles and bearings in "The Treasure Rocks of Neah-kah-nie Mountain (2012)., the "W" rock which has components that "represent a combination of sun and star sighting points to determine the longitude, date and time and day," and the "Rays Rock" which "is a compass rose point used to measure points on Neahkahnie Mountain and beyond.".
Gitzen claims the outline and topography of Nehalem Bay match the Hondius Map, and that the Islands of Saint James are the Three Arch Rocks 13 miles south of the entrance to Nehalem Bay.
An article "Edward Wright's World Chart 1599 published in the blind peer-review "Terrae Incognitae" journal of the Society for the Histories of Discoveries contains Queen Elizabeth's Privy Seal. The only such map of the 16th century to carry the Queen's seal. The map was originally published in 1599 by Richard Hakluyt and reissued by the Hakluyt Society's 2 volume publication "The Hakluyt Handbook"(1974) where it is identified by David Beers Quinn, editor, and Helen Wallis, Map Curator of the British Museum, both agree the map is the most authentic map Hakluyt published in his books.
Whale Cove, Lincoln County, Oregon
In 1978 British amateur historian Bob Ward, after making a study of the geography of the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada, suggested that Drake actually landed much farther north, in Whale Cove in present-day Oregon. Advocates of the Whale Cove theory argue that when Captain James Cook first sighted the American coast at Cape Foulweather two centuries later, he described it in his log, with unknowing accuracy, as "the long-looked for coast of New Albion." Whale Cove lies just north of Cape Foulweather. Advocates of the Whale Cove theory dismiss the latitude given by Drake on the grounds that he may have deliberately falsified it in order to deceive the rival Spanish. Although the official account of Drake's voyage gives the anchorage location as 38 degrees, the only two known hand-written accounts of the voyage, preserved in the British Library, say that it was at 44 degrees, which is on the mid-Oregon coast. Drake and Queen Elizabeth, they argue, falsified the location because he mistakenly thought he had discovered the North West Passage when he found, and sailed into, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which today separates Vancouver Island, British Columbia from the mainland Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. In 2012, Ward established a website supporting Whale Cove.
Melissa Darby has established the Drake Anchorage Research Collaboration (DARC) in support of the possible Whale Cove landing site.
Whale Cove is the site identified by Bawlf as Drake's careening location.
Ward, Bawlf and Darby do not agree on the general route taken by Drake, but all have Drake's careening site at Whale Cove.
Whale Cove remains an unnavigable bay in a dangerous part of the Oregon coast: mariners are advised to stay at least 600 yards offshore for the distance one mile north of Whale Cove to one mile south of Whale Cove. Whale Cove is not considered a usable bay by any size of vessel.
Oregon Dunes, Oregon
The Drake Navigators Guild studied the landfall site for Drake - the place where he found land after his northwest, then east sailing - and determined that the site was Oregon Dunes. This site had the same mysterious "snow" even though the temperatures were well above freezing as were observed by Captain George Vancouver in 1792. The site is a recognized Oregon landmark.
South Cove, Oregon
The accepted site of the "bad bay" described by Drake is South Cove, Oregon.It is here that Drake anchored, but was unable to land or repair his ship.
Port Orford, Coos County, Oregon
Chetco River, Curry County, Oregon
Trinidad Bay, Humboldt County, California
In 1926, Henry Wagner wrote about Drake's circumnavigation. Determining that Drake would have stopped at the first suitable location, Wagner concluded that Drake spent most of his time at Trinidad Bay.
Campbell Cove, Bodega Bay, Sonoma County, California
Bob Graham has evaluated the reported latitudes and the technologies available to Drake. If the 38-1/2 degree value is more accurate than the 38 degree value, and if Drake took a scientific series of experimental data and averaged it (for which there is no evidence), then the Bodega Bay latitude is more likely to be right than the Drakes Bay latitude. In comparison to other reported Drake latitudes across the globe, the reported latitudes establish that Drake's harbor was within 1/2 degree of 38 degrees north latitude or 38-1/2 degrees north latitude based on average errors.
Tomales Bay, Marin County, California
Just inside the entrance to Tomales Bay, behind Sand Point is a location which has been suggested as Drake's landing site.
Historian Robert Becker found a location to which the Hondius Broadside map could apply at Tom's Point on the east side of Tomales Bay.
Drakes Bay, Marin County, California
One of San Francisco's earliest historians, Frank Soule, wrote in support of a Drakes Bay landing site. George Davidson concluded that Drake was at Drakes Bay, but believed the actual careening point was just inside Point Reyes Head. Davidson's work was based on sailing the coast. The identification of the careening point required exploring the site the way the artist of the Hondius Broadside inset viewed the site.
Bolinas Bay, Marin County, California
Two Bolinas Bay locations have been proposed:
San Francisco Bay, California
San Francisco Bay, generally
Several claims put Drake in San Francisco Bay, but did not establish where in the Bay Drake visited and then careened the Golden Hinde. These include Robert Greenhow in 1845, Jules Verne in 1879 and Samuel Johnson.
Strawberry Cove, Marin County, California
Duane Van Dieman has developed a strong hypothesis that Drake landed in upper Richardson Bay in San Francisco Bay (37.888 degrees). His website: SFDrakeFoundation.org goes into detail showing clear evidence proving that Van Dieman has successfully addressed all of the important key factors of accepted Drake investigative evidence, including a near-perfect match to the Hondius Broadside inset of the cove that was approved by Drake himself. Van Dieman's website also includes recent favorable published articles that Van Dieman has received from local Marin press, published shortly after his discovery was made public in the summer of 2018.
Worth noting is that the Drake Navigators Guild recently made several false claims that the collected evidence relating to the Strawberry Cove site didn't meet the basic criteria for any real consideration. According to Van Dieman, a 12-chapter DVD presentation was received by the DNG that clearly addressed all of the shortcomings the DNG claimed didn't meet this basic evidential criteria. Van Dieman has offered to publicly debate any other claims of Francis Drake's true California landing location with anyone, including the DNG.
Larkspur, Marin County, California
Robert Stupack believes Drake established New Albion at Portsmouth Cove Larkspur.  Stupack believes "Drake's Treasure" was cached in the area and has done extensive excavations. 525,000 pounds of material have been removed from the site. In 2017, Stupack claimed, "There are 7,347,000,000 people on this planet who would like to find a buried treasure on their property. IT HAPPENED TO ME."and then careened the Golden Hinde at
Point San Quentin, Marin County, California
Robert H. Power (1926–1991), co-owner of the Nut Tree in Vacaville, CA, promoted the idea that Drake's New Albion was inside San Francisco Bay near Point San Quentin. Among his arguments was that the Hondius Broadside map matched a part of the topography when parts were adjusted using a 2:1 correction. Among the problems with Power's idea is the difficulty of sailors finding San Francisco Bay from the ocean (it was first discovered by land and the first sea attempts to then locate the Bay failed), the lack of continuous foggy weather, the multitudes of good harbors, and the extreme dangers of entering such a bay on an unknown basis.
To support his idea, Power formed an organization called Nova Albion Explorations which supported investigative work including archaeology of San Francisco Bay Shellmounds. The excavations "did not reveal any historic material which would lead anyone to believe the site experienced any contact with Caucasian parties of the 16th century."
A. Bray Dickinson supported an upper San Francisco Bay site in 1954.
Walter Starr and Francis Farquhar supported the San Quentin site.
Olompali, Petaluma River, Marin County, California
Robert C. Thomas advocates that Drake landed at Olompali, on the Petaluma River, inside San Francisco Bay. "Under the shelter of cliffs" at Drakes Bay, Thomas believes Drake's men saw seagulls that rode east on updrafts, so that the men "could see that the land over which they (the birds) were flying was really a peninsula (a Marin County peninsula formed by the Pacific coast and San Francisco Bay.)" "The home-bound gulls swept inland" to Olomp-ali. Thomas dismisses the likelihood that Drake stayed at Drakes Bay, but instead headed south.
Thomas believes that while "there appeared to be no break in the shoreline" showing San Francisco Bay, Drake ran into a "strong current." Risking "imminent danger," Drake "was committed to an uncontrollable approach" and then "miraculously…found that they had passed through…" the Golden Gate.
According to Thomas, over the next five days, Drake explored the 21 nautical miles in the northwest portion of San Francisco Bay, ignored numerous promising harbors, and moved "his ship on June 21" to Chok-olom, the port near Olomp-ali.
Thomas glosses over the fact that the Marin "peninsula" is not visible or discernible from the coast. Thomas does not solve the problems with any proposed San Francisco Bay Drake landing site: the difficulty of sailors finding San Francisco Bay from the ocean (it was first discovered by land and the first sea attempts to then locate the Bay failed), the lack of continuous foggy weather, the multitudes of good harbors, and the extreme dangers of entering such a bay on an unknown basis. Thomas also proposes that Drake sailed inland a significant distance quickly without it being noted in any of the accounts
Grizzly Bay, Suisun Bay, Solano County, California
Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County, California
Alan Brown posed the question, "Did Drake Land Here" in 1960.
Point Año Nuevo Cove, San Mateo County, California
Monterey Bay, Monterey County, California
Carmel River, Monterey County, California
Pirate's Cove, San Luis Obispo Bay, San Luis Obispo County, California
Goleta, Santa Barbara County, California
- The Drake's Cove site began its review by the National Park Service (NPS) in 1994 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2012-10-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), thus starting an 18-year study of the suggested Drake sites. The first formal Nomination to mark the Nova Albion site at Drake's Cove as a National Historic Landmark was provided to NPS on January 1, 1996. As part of its review, NPS obtained independent, confidential comments from professional historians. The NPS staff concluded that the Drake's Cove site is the "most probable" "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2012-10-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) and "most likely" "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-06-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Drake landing site. The National Park System Advisory Board Landmarks Committee sought public comments on the Port of Nova Albion Historic and Archaeological District Nomination  and received more than two dozen letters of support and none in opposition. At the Committee's meeting of November 9, 2011 in Washington, DC, representatives of the government of Spain, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Congresswoman Lynn Wolsey all spoke in favor of the nomination: there was no opposition. Staff and the Drake Navigators Guild's president, Edward Von der Porten, gave the presentation. The Nomination was strongly endorsed by Committee Member Dr. James M. Allan, Ph.D., Archeologist, Saint Mary's College of California, and the Committee as a whole which approved the nomination unanimously. The National Park System Advisory Board sought further public comments on the Nomination : no additional comments were received. At the Board's meeting on December 1, 2011 in Florida, the Nomination was further reviewed: the Board approved the nomination unanimously. On October 16, 2012 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar formally established the Drakes Bay Historic and Archaeological District as a National Historic Landmark. He issued a press release on October 17, 2012.
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