Drakes Cove named landmark

10/25/2012

It was of little surprise to a group of historians and scholars when the federal government recognized a medieval sea captain for harboring near a bay that now bears his name. In fact, for Edward Von der Porten and other members of the Drakes Navigators Guild, the proclamation last week of Drakes Cove, an inlet of Drakes Bay, as a national landmark brought an end to what Mr. Von der Porten called a “long, long, process” of presenting evidence he believes points to the landing site of English explorer Sir Francis Drake. 

“We knew the announcement would come at any time,” Mr. Von der Porten, president of Drakes Navigators Guild, said. The nonprofit group, founded in 1949, consists of historians and scholars who study early exploration along the West Coast. Artifacts, historical accounts and maps they have accumulated led the guild, along with several historians and scholars, to the landing site on Point Reyes.  

However, the announcement by the National Park Service is not a definitive declaration, park spokesman Mike Litterst said. “We recognize there are other theories and possible locations,” he said, adding that archaeological value and historical accounts marking some of the first interactions between Native Americans and European settlers at the site led the agency to name Drakes Cove as the “most probable site.”  

But Mr. Von der Porten contends that evidence suggests Drake sought to fix leaks in his ship, the Golden Hind, amid the cove’s 250-foot-tall bluffs and fair harbor conditions. “We’ve got the answer—it’s been checked and rechecked,” he said. Drakes Cove now is one of 2,500 sites recognized by the federal government as a landmark, the highest status given to a historical site.