Sebastian Vizcaíno

Sebastian Vizcaíno

Sebastian Vizcaíno left Mexico City on March 7, 1602, and arrived in Acapulco on the 19th. His expedition sailed on May 5, 1602 with four vessels, described as two ships (the San Diego and Santo Tomás), a frigate (the Tres Reyes), and a long boat. They reached Cabo San Lucas on June 8, where they were forced to abandon the long boat. The remaining three vessels worked their way up the outer coast of Baja California, frequently short on water and separated. They finally reached San Diego on November 10--a voyage of six months and five days!

San Diego was chosen as the name of the port both for the flagship and for the feast of San Diego de Alcalá on November 12. They left San Diego on November 20, landed on Santa Catalina Island, passed through the Santa Barbara Channel and rounded Point Concepcion, which they named for the vigil or feast of the Immaculate Conception. The fleet sailed past Carmel Bay and on December 16, they entered the harbor, which they named after the viceroy of Mexico, Don Gaspár de Zúñiga y Acevedo, Count of Monte Rey, who had dispatched the expedition. They went ashore the following day, and pitched the church tent under the shade of an oak whose branches touched the tidewater, 20 paces from springs of good water in a ravine. Most of the sailors were suffering from scurvy; many were seriously ill, and 16 had died!

On December 29, the Santo Tomás, carrying the sick as well as news of the expedition, was dispatched for Acapulco. The voyage was one of great suffering; 25 men died on the way, or soon after arrival. Only nine survived. The Tres Reyes arrived at Acapulco with only five survivors! Vizcaíno on the San Diego explored the northern coast and returned to Acapulco on March 21.

Vizcaíno accomplished little in the way of new exploration. Except for the Monterey Bay, he discovered no more than Cabrillo had 60 years before. He did, however, chart the coast with such accuracy that his maps were used until about 1790.