Discovering the Region: Texts

3. Juan Pérez, Narrative of His Voyage along the Northwest Coast

Juan Pérez on the Northwest Coast: Six Documents of His Expedition in 1774, ed. Herbert K. Beals
(Portland, Ore.: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1989), 88-91.

7th to Monday 8 August 1774

We continued sailing under full sail in search of the coast, steering to the N; the wind out of the SE, fresh; the sea smooth; the sky overcast. At 3 in the afternoon canoes began coming out from the land; three of them were nearby and up to five of them collected together, but without wanting to come near regardless of how much they were called. From the said hour we were sounding frequently, and the first depth was 25 brazas. From this depth we came to 15, 16 and 19 brazas, and from this to 25 brazas, very dark sand and green slime, where we anchored, giving it the name of Surgidero de San Lorenzo [St. Lawrence's Roadstead]. This maneuver was done at 7 in the evening, at which time a bearing was taken of Punta de Santa Clara [St. Clara’s Point] to the NW, a distance of 4 leagues, and that of San Estevan to the SE, a distance of one league. This was all judged by compass, the variation of which is 16° to the NE. The wind went calm. As darkness came on the sea was smooth, the sky and horizons overcast. Although it was night, the canoes did not cease to come, but without [the natives’] coming on board.

The night was calm. It dawned clear and beautiful, with a west wind trying to blow. A launch was immediately put in the water fitted out

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with sails and masts, with the purpose of locating a good anchorage, this one being unsheltered from the wind, and being anchored with a stream cable. At the time the launch was put in, a number of canoes were around, and immediately when they saw it they fled; but they returned giving us their advice. Seeing the appearance of the weather clear, we began weighing anchor confident of some shelter from Punta de San Estevan.

Note: The land sighted at noon a distance of 3 leagues, in latitude 49°30’N and longitude 20°11’W of San Blas, with the prow NE, is a hill similar to that of Puerto de San Diego. From the NW part of it a point of low land projects out about 3/4 of a league, entirely of rock, with the sea breaking in much surf. From this point, referred to as San Estevan, the land continues to the NW, and a point was visible to the N which was called Santa Clara and runs with Santa Estevan NW-SE. All the land between these two points is moderate, but inland it is high, mountainous and covered with very luxuriant forests down to the water’s edge. We anchored in the middle as I have said, and not trusting the place, we began weighing the stream anchor. The wind freshened out of the W, and we were in danger of running aground on a foul coast, for which reason I ordered the stream anchor cut, and we sailed under full sail, leaving the launch tied with a stout rope and towed from our stern. This was done and happened between 5 and 7 in the morning. By this sailing we tried to get ourselves out by endeavoring to back off from the ledge of rocks that projected out, as I have said, over 3/4 of a league running South. It was frightening to see in so short a time the entire sea become angry, stirred up by the blowing wind.

The Indians then came within speaking distance, and they started their trading by an exchange of furs for shells which our men brought from Monterey. They [the sailors] got in return various sea otter skins and many sardines. The Indians differed in appearance from those at Santa Margarita, the pelts [they wore] not being placed against the body.

There is copper in their land, for various strings of beads were seen (similar to glass beads) that were made of animal teeth, and at their ends they had some eyeholes of beaten copper, which had certainly been grains extracted from the earth and later pounded, implying that they had some mines of this metal. These Indians are very docile, for they gave up their furs even before they were paid for them. They are very robust and white as the best Spaniard. The two women whom I saw had the

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same appearance as the others. Some Indians wore rings made of bone in their ears. It did not appear that they had experienced or seen civilized people before. As many as 15 canoes collected around.

At 11 a survey was taken of Loma de San Lorenzo [St. Lawrence’s Hill], finding the said hill at latitude 49°30’N and at a longitude 20°30’W of San Blas, bearing N a distance of 6 leagues. At noon I observed [the latitude] at 49°12’ North. Nothing more new. Thanks be to God.

8th to Tuesday 9 August 1774 

We proceeded on with the foresail and the topsails made fast with both reefings until 12:30, at which time the force of the wind obliged us to furl them. We remained with the foresail steering a course SSE; the wind was very strong out of the WNW; the sea turbulent on the said course; the weather clear. At 4:30 we hauled the mainsail aboard. The horizons were clear at nightfall, and at 11:30 they clouded over to the SW. At sunrise they were the same. At 4 in the morning we loosened the topsails under two reefings; at 6 we loosened one reefing. I gave orders to steer ENE, returning to the coast which I discovered bearing to the N 18 leagues at the greatest distance, and the rest S to East the same distance. We hauled the mainsail aloft. At 7:30 the 2nd reefing was loosened in the topsails, and at 8 the wind went calm. The latitude by dead reckoning was 48°17’N; west variation 18°14’; longitude made, 4°52’W; longitude from the meridian of San Blas 20°47’. Nothing more new. Thanks be to God.

9th to Wednesday 10 August 1774 

We continued with the foresail and topsails, turning to a course NE; the wind out of the WSW, light; the weather overcast; the sea smooth. At one-thirty I gave orders to haul down the topsails with the purpose of mending them, and in place of them we hoisted, at a quarter to 4, new ones that had been fashioned. At sunset I took a bearing on the closest part of the coast to the NNE, a distance of 14 leagues. The horizons at nightfall were threatening and dark, although it came to nothing, everything dissolving into a calm. We took two reefings in the topsails.

It was calm the greater part of the night, with some light variable winds out of the W. At dawn the horizons were clear from the NE to the South, and dark in the 3rd [SW] and 4th [NW] quadrants. I took a bearing on the [land] that was sighted to the extreme E to E1/4SE a distance of 18 leagues and the opposite to the N a distance of 14 leagues. The reefings were loosened in the topsails, said work being done at sunrise. At noon I

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observed the latitude at 48°09’N, in which parallel bore a very high peak all covered with snow, and from afar there appeared to be an island to the E1/4NE a distance of 12 leagues from the said peak. The coast runs NW-SE, a moderately low land, densely forested. It [the peak] is in latitude 48°05’ and longitude 24°20’W of San Blas, and it is named Santa Rosalia. Nothing more new. Thanks be to God.

10th to Thursday 11 August 1774 

We proceeded on with the foresail, the main topsail and fore topsail, turning to a course ENE in search of the coast; the weather clear and beautiful; the wind out of the WNW, fair; and the sea quiet out of the W. At 3 in the afternoon I gave orders to steer East. At 6 I took a bearing on the most southerly part of the coast at E5°SE, a distance of 8 leagues. At 7:15 a reefing was taken in the topsails, and at the said time I gave orders to steer SE. At nightfall the horizons were beautiful and clear. At one the sky clouded over and became dark toward the South. At the said hour we noticed a wind out of the said direction, rather fresh. At the same time it began to rain, and it has continued [to do] so most of the night and until noon. At 4 in the morning we were tacking ahead. At 11 we came about, tacking off and on, because I did not want to tack ahead, the wind having swung around to the SW. Although by noon it stooped raining, an observation has not been obtained. Nothing more new. Thanks be to God. . . .

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