Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ship of the Week: The Golden Hind

Today's Ship of the Week was a sailing ship originally called the Pelican, that set out in 1577 to circumnavigate the globe. Led by the incredible captain and privateer (and future Dude of the Week) Francis Drake, the Pelican would take some millions of pounds stirling worth of gold bullion from heavily-laden Spanish galleons during her trip around the world. As Drake passed through the Straits of Magellan, he renamed the Pelican to her rather more famous name:

The Golden Hind

The Golden Hind was the galleon that Drake took around the world on the behest of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I, with the purpose of proving the ability of the English to do so; in addition, Drake was authorized to pirate any and all Spanish vessels he could find. Drake's famous circumnavigation was not an easy task, but0 the Golden Hind found herself up to the task.

Drake and company set out with five ships, the Pelican leading, in December of 1577, with the goal of raiding the here-to-invulnerable Pacific coast of the Americas, where Spanish ships trucked about silver and gold with impunity. Their first victory was over the Santa Maria, a Portugese ship, off the Cape Verde islands. Drake had to scuttle or burn three of his ships by the time he reached Argentina; rot and loss of crew had taken its toll.

As the smaller convoy crossed the Straits of Magellan, Drake rechristened Pelican as the Golden Hind, in a dramatic gesture meant to appease his sponsor, Sir Christopher Hattin, who's coat of arms had a hind of gold upon it (hind is medieval English for doe). Then he was through to the Pacific, and it was time to get down to business.

Basically, Drake and the Hind kicked ass all the way up the Pacific coast. Remember, no pirate had struck the Spanish on the west coast of the Americas, so they thought they were pretty much immune there, using the west coast to ship from Peru and Mexico, towards Panama, where they'd hike over the isthmus, and hook a ship to Spain. So, they probably shit their pants when they saw the Golden Hind coming for them.

The Hind took a few ships, and got tens of thousands of pesos of Spanish gold, but most importantly, they captured a ship named Nuestra Señora de la Concepción. Sure, this ship was full of gold and stuff, but more importantly - it was full of 26 tons of silver from the Far East. The Spanish had been sneaking across the Pacific and trading in the area that was specifically set aside for the Portuguese. This would start a war between Spain and Portugal, and would embarrass Phillip II of Spain and make him look like a dick.

The Hind served well, taking Drake and co. up to the west coast of what is now the USA, which he named "Nova Albion". They then sailed across the Pacific and had a fairly boring journey home. I assume they spent the time swimming in the gold and silver in the hold, Scrooge McDuck style. Sure, only like 57 of Drake's men returned, but a legend was born - and those who invested in Drake's adventure got a return of £47 for every £1 invested.


Jaki said...

Of course they were swimming in gold and silver. That is what every respectable man, woman, or child has to do with precious metals. Its written in the disney bi-laws.

That ship is badass.

Veritas said...

Yes, yes it is. To be honest, Drake himself was badass, one of the great Englishmen of the Stuart era.

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