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Vsevolod Bolshakov
Vsevolod Bolshakov

APK2 Juan de Ayala: el parking más económico y céntrico de Vitoria


Juan de Ayala: The First European to Explore the San Francisco Bay




Have you ever wondered who was the first European to explore the San Francisco Bay? You might think it was Sir Francis Drake, who claimed California for England in 1579, or Gaspar de Portolá, who led the first Spanish land expedition to the bay in 1769. But you would be wrong. The first European to sail into the bay and map its shores was Juan de Ayala, a Spanish naval officer who accomplished this feat in 1775, four years before Drake or Portolá.




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Juan de Ayala was a remarkable man who made a significant contribution to history and science. He was not only a brave explorer, but also a skilled navigator, a careful observer, and a respectful diplomat. He discovered many islands, landmarks, and natural features of the bay that are still named after him or his crew. He also documented the flora, fauna, climate, and geography of the bay, as well as the culture, language, and customs of its native inhabitants.


In this article, we will learn more about Juan de Ayala's life, expedition, and legacy. We will follow his journey from Mexico to California, his entrance into the bay, his route around its waters, and his exit back to the Pacific Ocean. We will also see how he faced various challenges and dangers along the way, such as fog, currents, winds, shoals, tides, diseases, and hostile natives. Finally, we will see how he influenced the future exploration and colonization of the bay area by Spain, Mexico, Russia, Britain, France, and the United States.


Juan de Ayala's Biography




Juan Manuel de Ayala y Aranza was born in 1745 in Osuna, a town in Seville province in southern Spain. He came from a noble family with a long tradition of military service. His father was a colonel in the Spanish army and his grandfather was a general who fought in Italy.


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Juan de Ayala joined the Spanish navy at an early age and rose through the ranks quickly. He served in various ships and missions in Europe, Africa, America, and Asia. He participated in several wars against Britain, France, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, and Turkey. He also explored new territories and established trade routes for Spain.


In 1774, he was appointed as commander of the frigate San Carlos by Viceroy Antonio María Bucareli y Ursúa. His mission was to sail from San Blas in Mexico to Monterey in California with supplies for the Spanish settlements there. He also had orders to explore any unknown bays or harbors along the coast that might be suitable for colonization.


Juan de Ayala Juan de Ayala's Expedition to the San Francisco Bay




Juan de Ayala set sail from San Blas on January 8, 1775, with a crew of 30 men and a cargo of supplies for the Spanish missions and presidios in California. He reached Monterey on June 25, after a long and difficult voyage that included storms, scurvy, and a mutiny attempt by some of his sailors. He stayed there for a month, repairing his ship and waiting for further instructions from the Viceroy.


On July 26, he received orders to explore the bay that had been sighted by Portolá in 1769, but not yet entered by any European ship. He was also instructed to look for a suitable site for a new mission and presidio, and to establish friendly relations with the native people. He left Monterey the next day, accompanied by two smaller boats: the San Antonio, commanded by Don José de Cañizares, and the San Carlos, commanded by Don Juan Bautista Aguirre.


He reached the entrance of the bay on August 5, but found it obscured by a thick fog that prevented him from seeing the opening. He decided to wait until the next day, when the fog cleared and he could see the Golden Gate. He named it "La Boca del Puerto de San Francisco" (The Mouth of the Port of San Francisco), and sailed through it with great caution, avoiding the strong currents and rocks that threatened his ship.


Once inside the bay, he was amazed by its size and beauty. He wrote in his journal: "This port is one of the best I have ever seen in my life... It has room for more than a thousand ships of the line... It is surrounded by high hills covered with trees and grass... The water is very deep and clear... The climate is very mild and pleasant..."


He explored the bay for six weeks, sailing around its shores and islands, taking soundings and measurements, making observations and drawings, and naming places after himself, his crew, or his patrons. He discovered Angel Island (which he named "Isla de los Ángeles"), Alcatraz Island (which he named "Isla de los Alcatraces"), Yerba Buena Island (which he named "Isla de Alcatraces"), and many other landmarks. He also encountered several native tribes, such as the Ohlone, the Miwok, and the Patwin, who greeted him with curiosity and hospitality. He exchanged gifts with them, learned some of their words, and observed their way of life.


He anchored his ship in a cove near Angel Island, which he considered the best spot for a future settlement. He built a wooden cross there and claimed the land for Spain. He also erected a small fort on Alcatraz Island to protect his ship from possible attacks by other European powers or pirates. He maintained good discipline among his men and avoided any conflict or violence with the natives.


He left the bay on September 18, after completing his mission and fulfilling his orders. He returned to Monterey on October 6, where he met with Father Junípero Serra, the founder of the California missions. He gave him a detailed report of his expedition and a map of the bay. He also gave him some seeds, plants, shells, feathers, and other curiosities that he had collected in the bay. He then sailed back to San Blas, arriving there on November 13. Juan de Ayala's Contribution to History and Science




Juan de Ayala's expedition to the San Francisco Bay was a remarkable achievement that had a lasting impact on history and science. He was the first European to explore and map the bay, and his work was more accurate and detailed than any previous or subsequent attempt. He also provided valuable information and insights about the natural and human environment of the bay, which helped the Spanish authorities and missionaries to plan and execute their colonization efforts.


He named the bay "Puerto de San Francisco" in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the Franciscan order that founded the California missions. He also named many of the islands, bays, straits, points, and channels after himself, his crew, his ship, his friends, or his superiors. Some of these names are still in use today, such as Angel Island, Alcatraz Island, Yerba Buena Island, Sausalito, Point Reyes, Point San Pedro, San Pablo Bay, Carquinez Strait, and Rodeo Lagoon. Others have been changed or forgotten over time, such as Isla de los Ángeles (now Angel Island), Isla de Alcatraces (now Alcatraz Island), Isla de los Pinos (now Yerba Buena Island), Puerto de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (now Mission Bay), Puerto del Presidio (now Crissy Field), Punta del Ángel de la Guarda (now Point Bonita), Punta de San Carlos (now Point Lobos), Canal de Nuestra Señora del Rosario (now Golden Gate), and Bahía Redonda (now Richardson Bay).


He also made a detailed map of the bay, which he sent to the Viceroy along with his report. His map was based on careful measurements and observations, using a sextant, a compass, a chronometer, and a log. He also drew sketches of the coastlines and islands, and marked the depths, curren


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