The Coastal Post - December, 1995

400th Anniversary Of San Augustin Sinking


November 30th marks the 400th anniversary of the sinking of the galleon San Augustin off the coast of Point Reyes. The ship was under the command of Captain Cermenho, and had sailed from Manila in the Spanish Philippines where the Spanish controlled this trade route from 1565-1815.

The ship was loaded with the "riches of the Indies" which included silks, porcelain, musk, amber, metals, precious stones and carved and inlaid chests. In 1941 the noted archaeologist Robert F. Heizer did a dig in Drake's Bay and found evidence of Chinese porcelain and iron ship spikes, but so far no one has discovered the actual spot the ship sank.

Cermenho had previously made landfall a mile or so off Rocky Point at Patrick's Point State Park, 24 miles north of Eureka, in order to escape a violent storm. He continued his exploration of the north coast and discovered Drake's Bay, which was formerly known as the Bay of San Francisco, not to be confused with the Port of San Francisco.

A second storm came up, driving the San Augustin aground, The ship and cargo were lost, and some of the crew drowned.

A week later, on December 8, Cermenho and the remaining crew set sail in the ship's longboat for Acapulco, where they amazingly arrived safely five weeks later.

Four hundreds year ago would be the 13th generation back on your family tree. Most of our great grandfolk ten times back were living in Europe, Africa, Asia, etc., waiting perhaps to emigrate.