Thomas Cavendish Circumnavigation
Thomas Cavendish was a well-educated gentleman with romantic notions of going to sea after the triumphant circumnavigation by Sir Francis Drake. He mortgaged some of his lands and bought a fifty ton barque that he captained himself. On 21 July 1586 Thomas Cavendish sailed out of Plymouth in his new ship, the Desire of 130 tons with two ships - the Content and the Hugh Gallant. Cavendish had to reach the Magellan Strait by the southern summer. His first stop was Sierra Leone, then crossed the Atlantic reaching Brazil on NOvember 1. He sailed down the coast of Patagonia to Port Desire where he layed in supplies of fresh seal and penguin meat. Cavendish's fleet reached the straits on 6 January 1587 and came upon a deserted Spanish settlement that he called Port Famine. On 24 February he passed Cape Pilar into the Pacific and sailed north up the coast which had been prewarned about his presence.
Cavendish managed to plunder a few towns and sink some ships, then captured a Greeek pilot who knew the local waters. He also replaced the leaky Hugh Gallant with another vessel named the George. Cavendish found out about a Manila Galleon that was on her way back from the Phillippines loaded with Chinese goods. The 700 ton Santa Ana arrived and Cavendish attacked her and gained thousands of gold pesos, tons of silk, pearls, satin and civet. Cavendish put fifty tons onto his ship and then burnt the Santa Ana. Cavendish set sail for China on 19th November and reached Guam in 45 days. Along the way, however, they lost the Content and she was never seen again. Perhaps she had returned to America and had been captured or sunk by storms.
Thomas Cavendish now set about doing what he thougt was the most important part of the voyage - to gather information about the trade in the Orient. The Desire reached the Phillippines on 14th January 1588 and anchored off Samor where the locals told him all about the Spaniards. Cavendish toured the islands, noting down places of strategic importance. Because he had no cargo space left to fill with spices, Cavendish bypassed the Moluccas and sailed into the Indian Ocean through the Straits of Lombok. He sailed along the southern shore of Java where he careened and reprovisioned the Desire. He left Java on 16th March and sailed through the Indian Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope in a month and a day. The Desire reached St Helena on the 8th June 1588 and stayed there for twelve days rest before heading back out into the Atlantic Ocean on his way home. The Desire entered the English Channel on the third of September and on the ninth they sailed into Plymouth Harbour with their weary crew.
Cavendish had come back just after the budding English Navy had beaten the Spanish Armada. He was feted throughout the country and he sailed the Desire round to Greenwich where Queen Elizabeth I awaited him and was suitably impressed.