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What Is the Golden Hind?

Victoria Blackburn
Victoria Blackburn

The Golden Hind was an English galleon, or sailing ship, famous for circumnavigating the globe. Galleons were large ships that were used during the 15th to the 18th centuries to travel long distances. These ships were used by most countries within Europe and carried out both commercial and military ventures. Due to their size, they provided a means of traveling across oceans.

What makes the Golden Hind famous is its voyage around the Earth captained by Sir Francis Drake. Queen Elizabeth I assigned the task of traveling around the globe to Drake, and the ship that was chosen was the Pelican. Halfway through the voyage, Drake renamed the ship to the Golden Hind. He did this in honor of Sir Christopher Hatton, who was an English politician at the time and one of Sir Francis Drake’s main sponsors during his voyage.

Sir Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I after a successful voyage on the Golden Hind.
Sir Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I after a successful voyage on the Golden Hind.

The voyage began in December of 1577, with the Pelican accompanied by five smaller ships that contained 164 men. Drake and his party reached Brazil in the spring of 1578. As the ship traversed the Strait of Magellan, which passes through the Southern tip of South America, Drake renamed the ship the Golden Hind. From there, they sailed north to around San Francisco where they began the trip across the Pacific in late July 1579.

The Golden Hind sailed for England.
The Golden Hind sailed for England.

The Golden Hind reached the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in June of 1580. From this point, Drake captained his ship north and returned to England later that year. The Golden Hind arrived in Plymouth Harbor in England in late September 1580. Of the crew that had begun the voyage on the ship, about only three quarters had survived the voyage.

Due to the successful completion of the voyage, Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. The Golden Hind was docked in Deptford in London, England. It was set up as a display for the public to visit and is thought to be one of the first times that a ship was put on public display. The public could visit the ship for almost 100 years, before the wood of the hull rotted away, and the ship was broken up and removed.

Several replicas have been made of the ship. One of the replicas was built in 1964, and is located in Brixham, Devon in England. It is currently being used as a museum that allows visitors to explore all the levels of the ship and to get an understanding of living conditions on the sea during the Tudor era.

Discussion Comments


@jcraig - I am not totally sure but I think there were Spanish in the general area, but not many. I think that is why Drake did not stay long in San Francisco, because he was afraid Spanish may be over there. However, I am not completely sure on the answer to your question.

I will say though I have to wonder when Drake got back to England and said there was another side to the Americas how big they thought the land was. I bet it is even possible that Drake did not know that this was the same area which encompassed America and did not really know where he was at.

I like to imagine that this was a curiosity for the English and definitely was something that they were looking for when they commissioned Drake to explore and find out what people did not know about the places he traveled to.


I have to wonder about Drake and his voyage to San Francisco. I know that the Spanish were the first ones in the Americas, at least around Mexico and Central America, but did they establish missions or forts around the west coast already during that time or was Drake the first to set foot there?

I find it very interesting that although America had been discovered already, there were not colonies set up over in the America yet on the East Coast, but Drake was able to go completely around South America and still set foot on the other side of America.

Although the English never set up forts or anything out of Drake's travel to San Francisco I do find it amazing that the English could at least say that they did send a ship over there and they got an idea of what exactly was over there on the other side of the land eventually called America.


@TreeMan - To be totally honest I understand where you are coming from, but the conditions on African slave ships were so terrible I am not surprised that that many people died in a shorter time span. Simply the Golden Hind was a better equipped ship to handle its journey, with funding from the British Crown itself, as well as four other ships to back it up in case something went wrong.

Despite these facts, I still do find it amazing that Drake and his Golden Hind were able to circumnavigate the world and still be able to bring a majority of the men back to tell the tales of their journeys.

I also think about all the places they traveled to and all the sights they may have seen that no European had ever seen before. The crew of Drakes ship were lucky and it was a privilege for them to join him and travel to the places they went to.


I have to be totally honest even though this article says that only three quarters of the men survived the voyage I think that is a pretty high number considering the length of the travel and how many different areas they traveled to.

Think that each time this ship traveled to a new place, they were going to a different climate they were not used to, which is something that does not go well if someone is sick to begin with.

Also, the length of travel during this time period completely went around the entire world and considering only one quarter died meant that they were able to survive a four plus year voyage constantly on the move, on the water. Usually more than one quarter of the blacks brought over on African slave ships would die just crossing the Atlantic over a few month period, but for a ship to travel for four years across the world, to unknown places, and still have most of its crew survive is just amazing.

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    • Sir Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I after a successful voyage on the Golden Hind.
      By: Georgios Kollidas
      Sir Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I after a successful voyage on the Golden Hind.
    • The Golden Hind sailed for England.
      By: Negura Dincolo
      The Golden Hind sailed for England.