In 1577, the queen Elizabeth I seeing her rival kingdom, Spain, expanding his empire to the west, secretly commissioned Francis Drake, a privateer (a pirate working for a government), to lead a expedition to cross Pacific Ocean. He left Plymouth in December with 4 ships and 164 men and returned to England 3 years later, 1580, with a reduced fleet: one ship and 69 men.
In his return drake was acclaimed as the first English sailor to circumnavigate the world bringing value information that helped English people that time to learn more about the world. Also he brought a treasure for the queen that exceeded the crown's income that year. In gratitude the queen knighted him on the deck of his ship, The Golden Hint.
Also Drake brought a coconut as a souvenir, was unknown fruit by English people, and gave it to Elizabeth I. Then she ordered to engrave the coconut cup and mounted it in silver as a token in remembrance of his voyage.
Drake's coconut cup is in display at National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
After Drake's successful voyage around the world the king of Spain, Phillip II, sent a expedition led by Sarmiento de Gamboa in order to fortify All Saints Strait, name given by Ferdinand Magellan and later baptised Mother of Jesus Strait and finally received the name of its explorer, Ferdinand Magellan.
In September 1581, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa left Seville, Spain, with 23 ships and 2500 persons, building materials, winter cloths, food, seeds, artillery and other necessities to start the colonisation of the region. His plan was to build two cities: one north-east entrance (Atlantic ocean) and another south-west entrance (Pacific ocean).
The voyage was a true challenge, they faced strong storms and a important number of ships wrecked which caused a number of sailors and future colonists abandon the expedition. Finally when, in 1584, they arrived in the strait they were a reduced number of 4 ships and around 500 persons, among them 13 women and 11 children.
Sarmiento de Gamboa funded the city Name of Jesus in Punta Dungenes (north-east) and city King Phillip (Rey Don Felipe) in Punta Sant'Ana (South-west).
After that a series of unfortunate events affected Gamboa and the colonists of both cities.
After funded the city King Phillip, Sarmiento de Gamboa navigating to explore the area around the strait was caught by a storm that dragged him along to Atlantic ocean taking him aside from the rest of the colonists to Brazil coast. Worried about the colonists he sent a cargo of cloths and food to them but the ship wrecked before getting its destination.
Knowing what happened Gamboa travelled to Pernambuco (north Brazil) looking for support but his ship also wrecked and he was miraculously saved gripping a tree trunk that was floating in the ocean.
Desperate for support he decided to return to Spain but in his way was captured by English pirates that took him to England, but because the queen Elizabeth I wanted friendship with Kingdom of Spain she let him free. However his hardship do not finish there, in his way to Spain he was captured by Huguenots, French religious protestants, that took him to the Mont Marsan Castle where he stay in prison for 44 mouths.
In 1590 the king of Spain, Phillip II, paid a ransom for his freedom. Then finally he returned to Spain but his health deteriorated.
Still not loosing hope, Gamboa asked King Phillip support for coming back to Magellan Strait, although six years had passed since he left the colonists. But again luck was not on his side, in July 1592 in his way to Magellan Strait, in Portugal coast, he got seriously ill and was taken to hospital in Lisbon where he died.
What hardship for a intrepid navigator!
For the colonists of the two settlements the situation was extremely difficult as well. In January 1587, 3 years after Gamboa left Strait of Magellan, Thomas Cavendish, another English pirate, arrived to the strait looking for the Spanish colonies with eagerness to steal the artillery brought to defend the settlements.
Then Cavendish met Tomé Hernandez who told him that all colonists were reunited in the city King Phillip where they died mainly from malnutrition, but also from hypothermia, intoxication, violence. And he said that in desperation some of them committed cannibalism. He claimed to be the only survivor.
Cavendish then buried the corps and changed the name of the settlement to Famine Port.
Tourist attraction: History-Patagonia Park
The park is located 60 km from Punta Arenas, the capital of Magellan Region.
The park has 130 hectares of native Patagonian forest and is the setting of the history of colonisation of the region and also a archaeological site.
The park offers a net of trails and viewpoints that allow visitors to observe the fauna and flora and enjoy the southern landscape.
The area also marks the geographical centre of Chile.
History- Patagonia Park: www.phipa.cl