The Harbor and its Islands

David Kipen

in San Francisco in the 1930s

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268807
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948877 | DOI:
The Harbor and its Islands

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For two centuries before the discovery of the Golden Gate, the navigators of Portugal, Spain, and England carefully avoided the sea approaches to the Port of San Francisco. The forbidding coastline and frequent fogs were not alone responsible for its prolonged obscurity: the outer islands indicated the danger of submerged rocks and shoals in the Farallones Gulf. Although soundings were taken by Sebastian Cermeno in 1595, not until 180 years later were any mariner bold enough to steer his ship through the Golden Gate. When the master of the San Carlos ventured through the strait in 1775, he sent a pilot boat ahead to chart the depth of the channel. Even within the Gate, Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala's little packet proceeded with extreme caution: only too obvious was the danger of being swept out to sea by the ebb tide, whose current had permitted passage only after the vessel's third attempt at entry.

Keywords: Golden Gate; Portugal; Spain; England; San Francisco; Farallones Gulf; Sebastian Cermeno; Juan Manuel de Ayala

Chapter.  6379 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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