Famous firsts are magnets for historians, biographers, poets, nationalists and romantics.
If mystery can be connected to a famous event, untold legions of amateur detectives come forward claiming they have solved controversies that have confounded academics for generations.
Perhaps there may be no mystery in the first place. In their research, they disregard or warp evidence to fit the desired conclusion.
The results invariably conAict with each other, yet nothing deters them from their paths toward page-one headlines.
Witness the ancient astronauts who inAuenced civilizations around the world, the Chinese admiral who visited every coastline of the Americas,
A Rem Drake Mrth and the Vikings who explored half of Ameri ca five centuries before Columbus. All are passionately believed.
All widely published. All fantasy. Francis Drake was one of the great sailors in exploration history.
Inevitably, his memory attracts scholars, hopeful dreamers, and outright cranks.
Once again, ana specr of Drake’s circum navigation (1577 to 1580) is the subject of an elaborate nationalistic romance.
Samuel Bawlf, a former minister of me British Columbia government, is fascinated by Drake and old maps.
He devised a legend which credits Drake wim discovering Bawlf’s home province in the spring and summer ofl 579.
How Bawlf succeeded in having his srory published on born sides of the Atlantic should be a cautionary tale for all who prefer accurate histories of mariners and me sea.
A Rem Drake Mrth Bawlfbased his hypothesis on limited facts and many suppositions.
From them he constructed a conspiracy theory which allowed him ro disrort evidence, ignore information char does not fit his theory,
and report hererofore unknown events whose narratives, he says, were suppressed in Drake’s day.
Bawlf starts his tale in southern Mexico, where Drake’s raid on Spain’s New World towns and shipping ended in April 1579.
With a long voyage still ahead, Drake needed a safe place to repair and resupply his treasure-laden Golden Hind.
He also sought a northwest passage that might rake him eastward through northern North America to the Atlantic and home.
Drake’s ships sailed westward from the port of Guarulco to find the northeast trade winds,
then northwest until they reached the westerlies, after which they sailed north-northeast until they came upon the coast.
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