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Description of the Newly-discovered Port of San Francisco

Situated in Latitude 37° 53' North, Longitude 17° 10' West of San Blas

Lieutenant Don Juan Manuel Ayala

Placed about two leagues west-southwest of Point Almejas[52], latitude 37° 42', the following is to be seen: First that it[53] is large, with two red barrancas[54], and second, that to the north there are three white rocks at a stone's throw[55]. From that point the coast runs north-northeast, forming a small harbor in which there are five submerged rocks close to its shore; above it some white barrancas[56], ending in a sloping bill which top, to the north, is what is called Angel Point[57]. This has near it several rocks[58], the furtherest one a gunshot distant. From this point there is a harbor sufficient to accommodate any vessel[59], not only on account of its bottom, but because it is sheltered from all winds excepting those from the west-southwest. The middle of this harbor is to the northwest, where a copious creek empties[60]; the point runs northeast 1/4 east. This harbor, with the one inside of it, which I called San Jose[61], has been found very good, with the prevailing winds from the south to the northwest.

From Pt. Almejas to the northwest 1/4 west, four Farallones are seen, distant about four leagues. The one southernmost looks like a sugar-loaf. To the northwest 1/4 north, at a distance of about twelve leagues, a mountain[62] is seen which ends in a low point. According to the records of Sebastian Vizcaino and coast pilot of Cabrera Bueno, this is the one called Point Reyes. From this point the coast runs east-southeast in the shape of a half-moon, open to all winds of the third quarter and ending in two barrancas at the foot of which a low point comes out with two submerged rocks. This point was called Santiago[63], and, with one called Angel de la Guarda, forms the mouth of the channel of the entrance of the port[64]. Following this shore in a northeast direction, another harbor is to be found within three small rocks near the shore which, in case of necessity, may shelter any vessel. This harbor[65] ends on the north with a large, steep, and broken point, at the foot of which there is a white farallon to which and to the point I gave the name of San Carlos[66], and with Point San José, which is distant about half a league, forms the entrance of this famous port. It is to be borne in mind that any vessel that enters or leaves this port must take the precaution not to come near San Carlos Point, because in this place exist violent whirlpools which make useless the rudder, but must take the middle of the channel or sail near the shores of San José Point.

To the northeast 1/4 north of the middle of the entrance, an island[67] is seen, distant about one and a half leagues. This island divides the water of the flood in two channels in which a vessel may anchor, especially in the one that runs northeast 1/4 north near the island where water and wood are to be found in abundance. The vicinity of the island is such good anchorage that a vessel can anchor within a pistol-shot of the shore.

To the east-northeast of Point San José there is a sheltered harbor, landlocked, with bottom which diminishes gradually to the shore, where water and some wood are to be found[68]. In this harbor there is no current, and for that reason, and because it is so near the point I consider, it one of the best anchorages.

Once Points San José and San Carlos have been passed, and taking care to leave at one side the principal channel, an anchorage can be made at any place, because it is sheltered from all winds; the only thing to avoid is the current, which in the principal channel is five miles, and in its branches three miles.

This report was made to me by Pilot Don José Cañizares, to whom I entrusted the examination of the port, because I was seriously sick.

[52] Pt. San Pedro.

[53] That is: Pt. Almejas or Pt. San Pedro.

[54] Barranca: The dictionary definition is a ravine or gulch, but it also means a high bluff or cliff and in that sense is used by these explorers.

[55] i. e.: from Pt. Almejas.

[56] Cliff Rouse Rocks.

[57] Punta del Angel de la Guarda - Point Lobos.

[58] Seal Rocks.

[59] Bakers Beach.

[60] Lobos Creek.

[61] i. e.: Inside of Point San Jose - Fort Point.

[62] Tamalpais

[63] Point Bonita. The present name was given it in 1776.

[64] Golden Gate Strait.

[65] i. e.: The outer harbor; outside of the Golden Gate.

[66] Lime Point.

[67] Angel Island.

[68] The Presidio anchorage.

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