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Sir Francis Drake's World Voyage of 1577 to 1580

In 1577 relations between England and Spain were akin to what we now call cold war, neither side wishing to antagonise the other openly but each trying to undermine the other indirectly. Drake's voyage was another such move in the political game. For, although the expedition sailed with the pretext of negotiating a trading agreement with the Ottoman Empire, the real purpose was to make contact with the rulers of Terra Australis (a land supposed to lie to the south of South America) and thereby set a thorn in the flesh of the Spaniards. The purpose of the expedition was kept secret until it became obvious that it was no longer making lot the Mediterranean but for South America. It is probable that the mutiny of Thomas Doughty was triggered off by the revelation of the true purpose of the voyage. The following ships set sail in the expedition:

Ship
Pelican
Elizabeth
Marigold
Swan (a store ship)
Benedict
Tonnage
120
80
30
25
15
Captain
Francis Drake
John Winters
John Thomas
John Chester
Thomas Moore

In addition, four unassembled pinnacles were taken. These pinnacles had proved their worth in Drake's earlier expeditions to the West Indies, when they had been used to land men unobtrusively on the enemy's flanks to capture a town or stronghold. For it must be remembered that square-rigged sailing ships, being dependent on a following wind or one on the quarter, would as likely as not be at the mercy of the shore batteries if they ventured to launch a frontal attack on a fortified position. Hence Drake's `prefabricated' pinnacles were invaluable, indeed indispensable, if he were to avoid trouble. The pinnacles could also be used for warping the ships out of confined waters. This warping was the method used before the advent of the tug. The pinnacle or long boat would take the ship's anchor in the direction the ship was required to move. The anchor would then be dropped and the ship winched or hauled towards the anchor by the anchor rope or warp. This operation was repeated until the ship was in a position to set her sails without risk of being blown on to a lee shore.

Francis Drake's Biography : The Golden Hind








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