San Francisco History and Interesting Facts: Who Didn’t Find the Bay
The first of these was in 1542 when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator sailing the Spanish ship San Salvador traveled up the California coast. Later Cabrillo’s pilot, Bartolome Ferrelo sailed past the Bay twice more without seeing it although he is credited with sighting the Farallon Islands which lie just off the mouth of the Bay.
A few years later, in 1579, Francis Drake, the English privateer who was to become a knight, landed at is what is now called Drake’s bay and became the first European to land on the Northern California coast.
In 1595, another Portuguese captain, Sebastian Cermeno, sailing under the Spanish Flag, anchored in Drake’s Bay. He named it La Bahia de San Francisco. Two hundred years later, a land party traveling up the coast came upon San Francisco Bay and thought it was the harbor that Cermeno had discovered.
That error was not corrected until Juan Manuel de Ayala became the first European to sail into the bay in 1775. But the earlier name stuck and San Francisco Bay was permanently named.