Juan Francisco la Bodega y Quadra

Rcognizing the difficulties and the weaknesses inherent in a single-ship expedition and, because Perez had failed to fulfill his instructions (to claim the NW Coast for Spain), another expedition was prepared for 1775. Commander Bruno Hezeta sailed the frigate Santiago, and Juan Francisco la Bodega y Quadra became captain of the schooner Sonora when one of the more senior officers became insane after departure from San Blas on March 16, 1775. It was not until mid-July that the two vessels reached the latitude of the present Washington coast. Storms, delays in the California ports, illness, poor sailing capacities of the Sonora, and other incidents slowed progress. Hetzeta doubted whether the vessels or the scurvy-ridden seamen would be able to continue much further north. On July 14, 1775 both vessels anchored near today's Point Grenville, Washington, Bodega sent a party ashore to obtain fresh water and firewood. The Indians had been friendly until this point, but Bodega made sure that the seven men of the landing party were well armed with muskets and pistols. As they struggled to escape from the surf, however, some 300 Indians attached from hiding in the woods and slaughtered them. Absolutely horrified, Bodega opened fire with muskets and swivel guns, but found that the schooner was out of range. He did not have another boat and the Santiago was anchored too far away to witness the event. Emboldened by their success, the Indians attacked the schooner, only to be repulsed in their first experience with firearms.

While this disaster was enough to convince Hezeta that the expedition should return to Mexico, Bodega refused to turn back without fulfilling his instructions. The two vessels parted company and Bodega sailed north into Alaskan waters, reaching approximately 58 degrees latitude. He discovered Bucareli Sound and conducted some impressive reconnaissance considering the obstacles he had to overcome with scurvy, food shortages, and poor conditions on the little schooner. Unlike Perez, Bodega made sure that he landed to claim the coast for Spain.

Captain Cook and the Spanish Explorers on the Coast, W.J.Langlois, Editor. SOUND HERITAGE Volume VII, Number1 Province of British Columbia, (c)1978