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Dragon of the sea

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On December 13, 1577, Sir Francis Drake set sail on an adventure — the kind that we read about in books.

A classic adventure story filled with secret missions, plundered treasures, wars, and rivalries — this briefly summarises the life of 16th century English sea captain and explorer Sir Francis Drake.

Son of a farmer, Drake took to the sea at an early age. On one of this first voyages as part of a fleet led by his cousin John Hawkins, most of the ships were destroyed by the Spanish. Thus began his lifelong enmity with them. He undertook several expeditions under the instruction of Queen Elizabeth I, with the sole aim of plundering and destroying Spanish colonies and ships. He was so infamous among the Spanish that they nicknamed him ‘El Draque’ or the Dragon.

Several of these voyages were secret missions classified as “the Queen’s secrets of the Realm.” It was top secret because to this day, no one except the Queen and Drake know exactly how much treasures he brought back from his expeditions.

One such was a voyage he set out on December 13, 1577 from Plymouth, England. He had with him five ships and 164 men. His mission was to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the ‘New World’ — the Americas, and explore the Pacific Ocean.

Around the world

Dragon of the sea

On reaching South America he abandoned two of his ships and then sailed through the Straits of Magellan to cross to the Pacific. Only one ship — The Golden Hind — survived. He continued sailing up the western coast of South America, raiding Spanish settlements along the way. He managed to capture a rich Spanish treasure ship.

On June 1579, he dropped anchor near San Francisco Bay to repair his ship. From there he set sail across the Pacific Ocean. The year-long journey included visits to several islands, rescue of failed colonists at Roanoke Island (the first English colony in the New World), rounding Africa’s Cape of Good Hope into the Atlantic Ocean, and finally returning home on September 26, 1580.

He brought with him heaps of seized treasures, spices and stories of sea and land.

This journey made him the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. Marking this achievement, Queen Elizabeth I knighted Drake, in 1851.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 6:27:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/dragon-of-the-sea/article30251646.ece

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