The Coveted Pacific Coast

New Spanish Explorations

Conflict with the Locals

During their voyage north the two ships experienced many storms, and illness hit the crew. In July 1775 they reached the vicinity of Point Grenville, in what is today Washington State. With the Amerindians showing signs of friendship, a detachment of seven sailors was sent ashore to obtain drinking water and firewood. No sooner had they reached the beach than they were massacred in just a few moments by approximately 300 Amerindians surging from the woods, under the horrified gaze of their companions who had remained on board the ships. Bodega had them open fire, but his ship was too far away.

Shaken by this disaster, Hezeta decided to return to Mexico, but Bodega refused to follow him without having completed the essential mission, which was to locate the Russians. He continued northward on the Sonora and got as far as the 58th parallel in Alaska. In a large bay, which he called Bucareli, Bodega went ashore with his crew to take possession formally in the name of Carlos III, King of Spain and the Indies, as ordered by the Viceroy. Having failed to find any Russians, Bodega returned southward, taking bearings as he went along the coast. This expedition made it clear to the Spanish that the Russians were not a serious threat. Some even asked whether it was worth continuing to explore the coast since there was no intention of establishing settlements there.