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Sat, Nov 18

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Berkeley Yacht Club

November Member Dinner - The Search for Nova Albion: A Maritime Detective Story

For years, the exact location of Sir Francis Drake's West Coast landing was shrouded in mystery. Debated by historians and researchers, it's only recently that new evidence has brought clarity to this enduring historical puzzle.

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November Member Dinner - The Search for Nova Albion: A Maritime Detective Story
November Member Dinner - The Search for Nova Albion: A Maritime Detective Story

Time & Location

Nov 18, 2023, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Berkeley Yacht Club, 1 Seawall Dr, Berkeley, CA 94710, USA

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About the event

In 2021, unnoticed at the height of the pandemic, the California State Historic Landmarks Commission issued a finding that resolved 150 years of competing claims by history enthusiasts and academic historians: where exactly did Francis Drake land on the Pacific Coast of California in 1579? This event marked the first documented contact between the cultures of the Indigenous people and those of western Europe. Drake named this place Nova Albion, ‘New England,’ and his territorial claim on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I presaged the era of English colonization of North America.

Phil Williams, Ph.D., will describe how nautical, geographic, cultural, and archeologic evidence were used by the State in making its determination. He will also show how to find Drake’s landing place on Point Reyes National Seashore.

Williams has been a San Franciscan for the last 53 years and a member of the Mechanics' Institute for 38 of them. His father was a Royal Navy officer, so Williams spent his youth around the dockyard and British warships in Portsmouth Harbor in Hampshire. After emigrating to the United States, he founded an environmental consulting firm based in San Francisco dedicated to environmental restoration and management. Much of this work has been along the Pacific Coast on estuaries and lagoons from Tijuana to Tillamook, including extensive studies on San Francisco Bay, Bolinas Lagoon, and Tomales Bay.

Although a poor swimmer Williams is an avid sailor, canoer, and rower. He has hiked almost all the trails in the Point Reyes National Seashore and paddled on all its waters.

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