Who Was the First English Captain to Sail Around the World?

When it comes to exploring new lands and conquering the vast oceans, the English have a rich history. One of the most significant achievements in English maritime history is undoubtedly the first circumnavigation of the globe by an English captain. This daring feat was accomplished by none other than Sir Francis Drake.

The Early Life of Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake was born in Tavistock, Devon, England, around 1540. From a young age, he showed a keen interest in sailing and adventure.

At the age of 13, he embarked on his first sea voyage under his cousin, Sir John Hawkins. This experience laid the foundation for his future exploration endeavors.

Drake’s Circumnavigation Voyage

In 1577, Queen Elizabeth I commissioned Sir Francis Drake to lead an expedition with a primary objective: to raid Spanish colonies and disrupt their trade routes. However, Drake had grander ambitions in mind – he aimed to become the first English captain to sail around the world.

Drake set sail from Plymouth on November 15th, 1577, aboard his ship named “Pelican.” He was accompanied by four other ships – Elizabeth (formerly Pelican), Marigold, Swan (formerly Christopher), and Benedict.

The journey was not without its challenges. The fleet encountered harsh weather conditions, treacherous seas, and hostile encounters with Spanish ships. Despite these obstacles, Drake persevered.

The Strait of Magellan

After months at sea battling storms and navigating unknown territories, Drake’s fleet reached South America. They entered what is now known as the Strait of Magellan – a treacherous passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Drake’s fleet faced extreme hardships during their passage through the strait. They endured freezing temperatures, strong currents, and dangerous rocks. It is said that only three ships survived the treacherous journey – Drake’s Pelican, Elizabeth, and Marigold.

The Pacific Ocean and Golden Hind

Emerging from the Strait of Magellan, Drake and his crew found themselves in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. They continued their journey northwards along the western coast of South America, raiding Spanish settlements and capturing valuable treasures along the way.

During one of these raids in 1579, Drake captured a Spanish galleon named Nuestra Señora de la Concepción. He renamed it Golden Hind in honor of his patron, Sir Christopher Hatton. The Golden Hind would later play a crucial role in completing the circumnavigation.

The Return Journey

After months of exploration and adventure in the Pacific Ocean, Drake set sail across the Indian Ocean towards Africa. He rounded the Cape of Good Hope and began his journey back to England.

On September 26th, 1580, after almost three years at sea, Sir Francis Drake returned to Plymouth aboard the Golden Hind. He had achieved what no English captain had done before – a successful circumnavigation of the globe.

The Legacy of Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake’s monumental achievement as the first English captain to sail around the world solidified his place in history. His voyage not only brought him fame but also increased England’s prestige and power on an international level.

Drake’s circumnavigation showcased England’s growing naval prowess and set a precedent for future explorers seeking new lands and trade routes.

  •  Sir Francis Drake
  • Golden Hind
  • The Strait of Magellan

Sir Francis Drake’s determination, courage, and navigational skills paved the way for future English captains to venture into uncharted territories. His legacy as a trailblazing explorer continues to inspire generations to this day.

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Emma Gibson