Francis Drake completed the second circumnavigation of the world 1577-1580.  He landed on his furthest south island, off the coast of Tierra del Fuego, on 24-28th October 1578. These are the surviving eye witness accounts of the furthest south island somewhere between the two known points: the exit from the Straits of Magellan into the Pacific, and the Island of Mocca.

It may, or may not, have been Cape Horn Island. These islands are granite - his inscribed stone must still be there. What a find! But difficult - see the modern accounts.

Observations, Sir Richard Hawkins, 1593

Manuscript Notes, Francis Fletcher, c.1627

The World Encompassed, Sir Francis Drake, 1628

The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake into the South Sea, Francis Pretty? Pasted into Hakluyt, 1589

Deposition, Nuno de Silva, 1578

Relation of the Voyage, Nuno de Silva, 1579

Log of the Voyage, Nuno de Silva, 1578

Deposition to the Inquisition, Nuno de Silva.

Declaration to the Spanish, John Drake, 1584

Declaration to the Spanish, John Drake,  1587

The Plate of Brasse Found 1936 on the shore near San Francisco

The Voyage of M. John Winter into the South Sea, Edward Cliffe

Report on the Voyage, John Winter, 1579

Narrative of the Voyage, John Cooke

A Discourse of the West Indies and the South Sea, Lopez Vaz, 1587

Observations, Sir Richard Hawkins, 1593

British Library: 566.g.23.(2)

I remember, that Sir Francis Drake told me … that standing about when the wind changed he was not well able to double the Southermost island, and so ankered under the lee of it; and going a-shore [with Fletcher?], carried a Compass with him, and seeking out the Southermost part of the Iland, cast himselfe downe upon the uttermost point grovelling, and so reached out his bodie over it.  Presently he imbarked, and then recounted unto his people, that he had bene upon the Southermost knowne land in the world, and more further to the Southwards upon it, then any of them, yea, or any man as yet knowne.


Manuscript Notes, Francis Fletcher, c.1627

Copy of first part by John Conyers  1677 – 2nd part never completed and lost (‘… the second part of this nauigation about the world wch I will attempt to finish wth all convenient speed I may ...’). British Library: Sloane MS 61.ff.38v-39r (in Penser, N M ‘The World Encompassed’ 1926)

Written and faithfully layed downe by Ffrancis Ffletcher Minister of Christ, & Preacher of the Gospell, adventurer and traueler in the same voyage.

Now God in mercy at the last brought vs through this labrinth wee so long had intangled vs wth so many Extremityes & Iminent dangers to that wch we so long desired that is to the Southerly cape of America entering into the South Sea.  Wherin as we Exceedingly rejoiced: so were wee resolued there to stay a while to do as wee had don to our good God  & in deuty to her majesty in other places & to have sett vp a monumt for her Highnes vpon the cape for a wittnes of our Passing that way & arrival at that place wch monument I had engrauen in mettle for the same purpose the like of that wch you may see in the End of this Booke [never completed, so missing] but it seemed not good to god wee should accomplish that tyme in this place as by the sequel will appeare…

… We being come by Gods Prouidence now to the Southermost cape of the Maine land the west India where as I sayed wee wentto sett vp a monument for her Majesty wch in my opinion had been fitting being in Just proportion of degrees from the AEquinoctiall to the Southward as England is to the Northward of the same that is 52 degrees Either of them from the Line the Lord prevented vs for Sodainly did arise such a wind that there was no stay to be made at all. By reason whereof wee were inforced to keep on our way & setting our course to steere coast along …

… att the vttmost Iland of terra incognita. to the Southward of America whereat wee arriueing made both the seas to be one & the self same sea & that there was no farther land beyond the heights of that Iland being to the Southward of the AEquinoctiall 55 & certaine minutes, to diuide them: but that the way lay open for shipping in that heigth without lett, or stay being the maine sea.

Now the Lord haueing giuen vs this breathing tyme wee tooke the benefit of it, & sett ourselues in order to goe to shoare in this Iland to refresh ourselues (as many as would) & to see what good things that place would yield vs for the sustaining of our Poore & feenle bodyes for our diet had beene most Pinching to nature in this tyme) to help our present state wch was but weake in many of vs … we landing in this Iland found it as the Rest of the Southerly Ilands wherof wee haue heard, the like poople boates herbes & trees but more flourishing because their summer was nearer now by 2 monthes then it was at our being with them

In this Iland were growing wonderful plenty of the small berry with vs named Currants, or as the common sort call them small raisins. My selfe being landed did with my Boy [Vaux has ‘bag’] trauill to the Souther most point of the Iland to the Sea one that Syde. Where I found that Iland to be more Southerly three partes of a degree than anny of the Rest of the Ilands.  Where haueing Sett vp an End a Stone of som biggnes & wth such Tooles as I hadd of Purpose euer about mee when I went one shoare. had engrauen her Majestyes name. her Kingdom. the year of Christ & the day of the moneth. I returned againe in som Reasonable tyme to our Company.

We departing hence & taking our farewell from the Southern most part of the world knowne or as wee think to be knowne there…..

… At our departure from this Iland before remembered this one thing wee obserued the night was but 2 houres Long & yet the sonn was not in their tropick by eight degrees wherof we gatherd that when the sonn should be in the Tropick they should haue no night at all neither would the sonne be out of their sight at anny tyme for certaine dayes. By reason of its easterly & westerly course as it falleth out in Russia & other the Northerly Countryes, when the sonn is in our Tropick as our Country men trauaillers in those partes can witness & myself in my former trauailes haue seen

In our course from Elizabeth Iland wee kept close aboord the shore as well of the broken land ….

The World Encompassed, Sir Francis Drake (nephew), 1628

Compiled from Francis Fletcher’s notes and others.

[Saturday] The sixth of September we left astern of us all these troublesome islands, and were entered into the South Sea, or Mare del Zur, at the cape whereof our general had determined with his whole company to have gone ashore, and there after a sermon to have left a monument to Her Majesty, engraven in metal, for a perpetual remembrance, which he had in readiness for that end prepared; but neither was there any anchoring, neither did the wind suffer us by any means to make a stay.

Only this by all our men’s observations was concluded: that the entrance, by which we came into this strait, was in 52 deg., the midst in 53 deg. 15 min., and the going out in 52 deg. 30 min, being 150 leagues in length: at the very entry, supposed also to be about ten leagues in breadth….

… From [Sunday] the seventh of September (in which the storm began) till [Tuesday] the seventh of October, we could not by any means recover any land (having in the meantime been driven so far south as to the 57 deg. And somewhat better), on this day towards night, somewhat to the northward of that cape of America (whereof mention is made before, in the description of our departure from the strait into the sea), with a sorry sail we entered a harbour where hoping to enjoy some freedom and ease till the storm was ended, we received within a few hours after our coming to anchor so deadly a stroke and hard entertainment, that our admiral left not only an anchor behind her, through the violence and fury of the flaw, but in departing thence, also lost the company and sight of our vice-admiral, the Elizabeth, partly through the negligence of those that had charge of her, partly through a kind of desire that some in her had to be out of these troubles, and to be at home again; which (as is since known) they thenceforward by all means assayed and performed.  For the very next day, [Wednesday] October 8, recovering the mouth of the Straits again (which we were now so near unto) they returned back the same way by which they came forward, and coasting Brazil, they arrived in England June 2, the year following….

…From this day of parting of friends, we were forcibly driven back again into 55 deg. towards the pole Antarctic.  In which height we ran in among the islands before mentioned, lying to the southward of America, through which we passed from one sea to the other, as hath been declared.  Where, coming to anchor, we found the waters to have their indraught and free passage, and that through no small guts or narrow channels, but indeed through as large frets or straits as it hath at the supposed Straits of Magellan, through which we came.

Among these islands making our abode with some quietness for a very little while (viz., two days), and finding divers good and wholesome herbs, together with fresh water; our men, which before were weak, and much impaired in their health, began to receive good comfort, especially by the drinking of one herb (not much unlike that herb which we commonly call pennyleaf), which purging with great facility, afforded great help and refreshing to our wearied and sickly bodies.  But the winds returning to their old wont, and the seas raging after their former manner, yea everything as it were setting itself against our peace and desired rest, here was no stay permitted us, neither any safety to be looked for …

… it lasted from [Sunday] September 7 to [Tuesday] October 28, full 52 days.

Not many leagues, therefore, to the southwards of our former anchoring, we ran again in among these islands, where we had once more better likelihood to rest in peace; and so much the rather, for that we found the people of the country travelling for their living from one island to another, in their canoes, both men, women, and young infants wrapped in skins, and hanging at their mother’s backs; with whom we had traffic for such things as they had, as chains of certain shells and other such trifles.  Here the Lord gave us three days to breathe ourselves and to provide such things as we wanted, albeit the same was with continual care and troubles to avoid imminent dangers, which the troubled seas and blustering winds did every hour threaten unto us.

But when we seemed to have stayed there too long, we were more rigorously assaulted by the not formally ended but now more violently renewed storm, and driven thence also with no small danger, leaving behind us the greater part of our cable with the anchor; being chased along by the winds and buffeted incessantly in each quarter by the seas (which our general interpreted as though God had sent them of purpose to the end which ensued), till at length we fell with the uttermost part of land towards the South Pole, and had certainly discovered how far the same doth reach southward from the coast of America afore named.

The uttermost cape or headland of all these islands, stands near in 56 deg., without which there is no main nor island to be seen to the southwards, but that the Atlantic Ocean and the South Sea meet in a most large and free scope….

… Now as we were fallen to the uttermost part of these islands, October 28, our troubles did make an end, the storm ceased, and all our calamities (only the absence of our friends excepted) were removed; as if God, all this while, by His secret providence, had led us to make this discovery, which being made, according to His will, He stayed His hand, as pleased His majesty therein, and refreshed us as His servants.

At these southerly parts we found the night in the latter end of October to be but two hours long: the sun being yet above 7 degrees distant from the tropic: so that it seemeth, being in the tropic, to leave very little, or no, night at all in that place.

There be few of these islands but have some inhabitants, whose manner, apparel, houses, canoes, and means of living is like unto those formerly spoken of, a little before our departure out of the Strait. To all these islands did our general give one name, to wit, Elizabethides.

After two days’ stay, which we made in and about these islands, the [Thursday] 30th October we set sail shaping our course right north-west to coast alongst the parts of Peru (for so the general maps set out the land to lie), both for that we might, with convenient speed, fall with the height of 30 deg., being the place appointed for the rest of our fleet to reassemble; as also that no opportunity might be lost in the meantime to find them out, if it seemed good to God to direct them to us.

In this course we chanced (the next day) with two islands, being, as it were, storehouses of most liberal provision of victuals for us, of birds; yielding not only sufficient and plentiful store for us who were present, but enough to have served all the rest also which were absent.

Thence (having furnished ourselves to out content), we continued our course, [Saturday] November 1, still north-west , as we had formerly done, but in going on we soon espied that we might easily have been deceived: and therefore casting about and steering upon another point, we found that the general maps did err from the truth in setting down the coast of Peru for 12 deg. At least to the northward of the supposed Strait; no less than is the north-west point of the compass different from the north-east, perceiving hereby that no man had ever by travel discovered any part of these 12 deg.,  …

… After we were once again thus fallen with the land, we continually coasted along, till we came to the height of 37 deg. Or thereabout; and finding no convenient place of abode, nor likelihood to hear any news of our ships, we ran off again with an island, which lay in sight, named of the Spaniards Mucho, by reason of the greatness and large circuit thereof.

At this island coming to anchor, [Tuesday] November 25th, ….

The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake into the South Sea,

Francis Pretty? Pasted into Hakluyt, 1589; included in 1600 edition with modifications.

[Saturday] The 6. day of September we entred the South sea at the Cape or head shore.

The seventh day wee were driven by a great storme from the entring into the South sea two hundred leagues and odde in longitude, and one degree to the Southward of the Streight: in which height, and so many leagues to the Westward, the fifteenth day of September fell out the Eclipse of the Moone at the houre of sixe of the clocke at night: but neither did the Eclipticall conflict of the Moone impayre our state, nor her clearing again amend us a whit, but the accustomed Eclipse of the Sea continued in his force, wee being darkened more then the Moone seven fold.

From the Baie (which we called the Baie of severing of friends) wee were driven backe to the Southward of the streights in [55.] {changed in the 1600 edition to 57, possibly taken from the Cliffe or de Silva’s narrative, both of which were printed in the same volume} degrees and a terce: in which height wee came to an anker among the Islands, having there fresh and very good water, with herbes of singular vertue.  Not farre from hence we entred another Baie, where wee found people both men and women in their Canoas, naked, and ranging from one Island to another to seeke their meat, who entered traffike with vs for such things as they had.

Wee returning hence Northwards againe, found the 3. [Thursday 30th - Da Silva] of  October  three Islands in one of which was such plenty of birdes as is scant credible in report. [Wee had by proofe in this place, as also at the furthermost Islands, that the sunne being at the least 8. degrees from the Tropic of Capricorne, the night was but two howers long, and scant that, so that we perceiued that when the sunne should be in the Tropike, there would be no night at all.] {Removed from the 1600 edition}.

[Wednesday] [The 8. day October we lost sight of one of our Consorts wherin M. Winter was,] {Out of place, reference is evidently to the bay where they lost Winter as related in the second paragraph above} who as then we supposed was put by a storme into the streights againe, which at our returne home wee found to be true, and he not perished, as some of our company feared.

Thus being come into the height of The streights againe, we ran, supposing the coast of Chili to lie as the generall Maps have described it, namely Northwest, which we found to lie and trend to the Northeast and Eastwards, whereby it appeareth that this part of Chili hath not bene truly hitherto discovered, or at the least not truly reported for the space of 12. degrees at the least, being set downe either of purpose to deceive or of ignorant conjecture.

We continuing our course, fell the 29. [Tuesday 25 – da Silva] of November with an Island called la Mocha …..

Deposition, Nuno de Silva (Portuguese pilot hijacked by Drake), 1578

[Nuttall, Z, ‘New Light on Drake’ 1914]

With this ship, he ran along the coast and came to an island … situated in 57 deg. Latitude. There he procured water and fuel.  He reached another island in 39 deg. Latitude …

Relation of the Voyage, Nuno de Silva, 1579

[Haklyut III p472 – 478 and Nuttall]

Being out of the straight on the other side, upon [Saturday] the sixth of September of the aforesaid year, they held their course Northwest for the space of three days, and the third day they had a Northeast wind, that by force drave them Westsouthwest, which course they held for the space of ten or twelue dayes with few sails up: and because the wind began to be very great, they tooke in all their sails, and lay driuing till the last of September.


The 24th [Sunday 28th - Nuttall] day of the same moneth, hauing lost sight of one of their shippes, which was about an hundred tunne, then againe they hoisted saile because the winde came better [because the time appeared to him somewhat long – Nuttall] holding their course Northeast for the space of seuen days, and at the ende of the sayde seuen dayes, they had sight of certayne Islands, which they made towards for to anker by them, but the weather would not permit them: and being there, the wind fell Northwest: whereupon they sailed Westsouthwest.

The next day they lost sight of another ship of their company, for it was very foule weather, so that in the ende the Admirals shippe was left alone; … and with the foule weather they ran till they were under seuen and fiftie degrees, where they entered into a hauen of an Island, and ankered about the length of the shot of a great piece from the land, at twentie fathome deepe, where they stayed three or foure days, and the wind coming Southward, they weyed anker, holding their course Northward for the space of two daies, and then they espied a small uninhabited [‘low’ Nuttall] Island, where being arrived, they stroke sailes, and hoisted out their boate, and there they tooke many birds and seales.

The next day they set sail again, holding their course North northeast and North, to another Island lying fiue or sixe degrees [leagues – Nuttall] from the firme land, on the North side of the Streight, where they ankered about a quarter of a league from the land, in twelve fathome water …

Log of the Voyage, Nuno de Silva, 1578



[Saturday] 6th This day we sailed out of the strait into the self-same South Sea

[Sunday] 7th The wind came from the prow, [we going south-east with a strong north-west wind] {In flat contradiction of all other accounts – to be verified}

 All this month we went along in this manner

[Sunday] 28th On this, the 28th, day we lost Maragota [Marigold]


[Wednesday] 1st On the first day of this month we set sail in a north-easterly direction

[Thursday] 2nd On the same course

[Friday] 3rd The prow to the North

[Saturday] 4th On the same course

[Sunday] 5th The same

[Monday] 6th The same

[Tuesday] 7th Made land in 51 degrees and came to anchor for one hour in 40 fathoms of water. The Elisabeth did not anchor.  They came close to the coast.

[Wednesday] 8th In the morning we did not see the Elizabeth

[Monday] 13th At midnight we neared the coast.

[Tuesday] 14th Came to anchor in 54 ½ degrees, three leagues from the land, in 50 fathoms

[Wednesday] 15th Set sail and came to anchor among some islands

[Thursday] 16th Landed and got a little water

[Friday] 17th Forced by the wind to set sail

[Saturday] 18th Came to anchor amongst some islands and landing with some difficulty, obtained water and wood, and parleyed with the natives.

[Thursday] 23rd Set sail, because the cable parted

[Friday] 24th Came to anchor off an island in 57 degrees

[Saturday] 25th This day we went ashore

[Sunday] 26th We procured wood

[Monday] 27th Went ashore

[Tuesday] 28th We set sail

[Wednesday] 29th Sailed northwards

[Thursday] 30th Landed and brought back many birds and ‘sea-wolves’

[Friday] 31st Landed and brought back the same


[Saturday] 1st On the first day we set sail

[Sunday] 2nd To the north-west

[Wednesday] 5th To the north-east

[Friday] 7th Headed out to sea

[Saturday] 8th Went forward towards the north-west

[Wednesday] 12th Went along tacking

[Friday] 14th Sailed on a northerly course

[Sunday] 16th The same course; observed the sun in 45 ½ degrees

[Tuesday] 25th Came to anchor off an island in 39 degrees.

Deposition to the Inquisition, Nuno de Silva.


Thus the said Englishman, Francis Drake, was left with only his Capitana during the time when he coasted southwards, keeping the land to the left until he reached 57 degrees of latitude South, at which point he entered some ports.  He saw people or signs of them in all these ports, although none of the inhabitants came out on account of the extreme cold.  Returning northward with a favourable south wind, he came straight to the coast of Chile on which he anchored …

Declaration to the Spanish, John Drake (nephew and confidant), 24 March 1584


… having disembogued into the South Sea, at the left hand side of the exit, twenty leagues to the south they entered a harbour in land inhabited by Indians of middle stature.  There they remaining fourteen days … from the same harbour, to which they had been driven by the storm, they went to the Island of Mocha …

Declaration to the Spanish, John Drake, 8 – 10 January 1587

They sailed into the South Sea for a distance of fifty leagues, where they met with a great storm and, seeking refuge from this they again sighted land in the region of the strait. One night, after the three ship had been together, one of them, whose captain was John Thomas, disappeared towards morning – nor did she reappear, and they never knew whether she was lost or what had happened. After having been blown about, for some days by the said storm the second ship said that she didn’t want to follow the General and turned about and re-entered the strait and was seen no more. Being left alone Captain Francis, with his one ship, went from that part of the strait that lies between fifty-three deg. southwards, and fifty-two or fifty two and a half deg. northwards, toward the terra incognita and anchored behind an island in fifty-four deg. But the winds, which were violent, drove him from there. They then anchored in another port off an island where they took in water and wood and found many herbs which they cooked, to eat. Captain Francis having heard that one of these herbs was medicinal had much juice squeezed from its leaves and gave this, in wine, to the sick. For nearly all were ill with swollen legs and gums; from which illness all recovered excepting two who afterwards died. While they were lying at anchor in this port a great storm parted one of their cables and they lost an anchor.  Proceeding to fifty-six deg. They found a very good island where they anchored and took in water and fuel and collected certain herbs which they knew.  There they found some canoes without men.

Returning thence to fifty-five deg. They found an island all covered with ducks and made a provision of their meat.  With a good strong wind they then sailed, without seeing land, until they arrived at the Island of La Mocha in Chile. Before reaching it, there was such a great storm that they could not see land for many days, and they entertained a suspicion on going between those islands of the Strait, that they had perhaps returned to the North Sea, until they sighted the said island of La Mocha.

The Plate of Brasse Found 1936 on the shore near San Francisco.

Drake’s furthest north


IVNE. 17. 1579.









The Voyage of M. John Winter into the South Sea, Edward Cliffe

[Turned back before the Southernmost Island, but useful for track before then]

Hakleut 1600

… and passed by Cape Deseado into the South sea [Saturday] the 6 of September.  And running along towards the North-west about 70 leagues, the winde turned directly against us, with great extremitie of foule weather, as raine, haile, snow, and thike fogs which continued so more then 3 weeks, that we could beare no saile, at which time we were driven 57 degr. To the south pole.  [Monday] The 15 of September the moone was there eclipsed, & began to be darkened presently after the setting of the sunne, about 6 of the clocke at night, being then Equinoctial vernal in that countrey.  The said eclipse happened the 16 day in the morning before one of the clocke in England, which is about sixe houres difference, agreeing to one quarter of the world, from the Meridian of England towards the West.  The last of September being a very foule night, and the seas sore growne, we lost the Marigold, the Generals shippe and the Elizabeth running to the East-ward to get the shore, whereof we had sight, [Tuesday] the 7 of October, falling into a very dangerous bay full of rocks:  and there we lost company of M. Drake the same night.

Report on the Voyage, John Winter 1579

[Turned back before the Southernmost Island, but useful for track before then]

British Library: Lansdowne MS 100 (in Taylor, E.G.R More Light on Drake The Mariner’s Mirror 1930)

With long travail and stopping of tides, we entered the [Saturday] 6th day of September the South Sea, where we found contrary winds, storm and tempest, for the space of 32 days.

The 30th [Sunday 28th – da Silva] day of September we lost the Marigold, being in 57 degrees. That night was the most tempestuous night that ever was seen in this outrageous weather. Most of our men fell sick of the sickness which Magellan speaketh of, so that of fifty we had scarce five that were untouched.

[Tuesday] The 7th of October we had sight of the Main, being so near that in the morning, being so near [sic] that we heard the wash of the shore, which we could not see by means of the fog and stormy weathering.

After this M. Drake came to anchor in a deep, dangerous bay.  He lost his cable and anchor, willing us to haul out, which was as much as we could do, and having hauled out we lay both ahaul, Mr. Drake being to the south-east of us, a league astern.  A little before night I called the Master into my cabin, showing him the Pelican astern, which we could see but now and then, by reason of the fog and outrageous weather, and willed him to have a great regard for the keeping of company that night.

The next day, in the morning, we were hard abord a great company of rocks, which we were forced to double with our great danger, or else to have gone with the Main. Afterward by hauling in to the northmost part of the Straits, we came amongst a number of broken and sunken rocks, amongst which we had doubtless perished, if God had not given us a clear of a sudden, by the which we escaped the danger, and made the Straits.

Here the Master would have gone room with the last place where Mr. Drake watered;  but I would not.  [Wednesday] The 8th day, at night, we came to anchor in the mouth of the Straits, as well for that I would see Mr. Drake when he came in, as also because he should [see] our fires, which I caused to be made and maintained all night long, for that he might descry us, and understand our safety.

[Friday] The 10th day of October I went ashore, and landed on a high mountain, being the highest in all the Straits, in the top whereof I engraved Her Majesty’s name, and we praised God together for the great danger we had escaped.

Narrative of the Voyage, John Cooke

[Turned back before the Southernmost Island]

British Library: Harlean MS 540 Ff 93-110 (in Penser, N M ‘The World Encompassed’ 1926)

[Saturday] The vi. September we entered the South Sea, where in all our being we never found but contrary winds and extreme tempests and boisterous weather.  The last of September we lost the Marigold, and [Wednesday] the viii of October we lost the General …

A Discourse of the West Indies and the South Sea, Lopez Vaz, 1587

Reporting what Nuno da Silva gave him in writing


… but Francis Drake himself ranne with this storme into seuen and fifty degrees of southerly latitude, where hee found an Island with a good harborough and fresh water, and stayed at the same Island two moneths to repayre his ships: and then, the weather being faire, he proceeded on his voyage, and came to the coast of Chili to an Island called La Mocha …