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An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology

Gaetano and Others

Gaetano and Others

Other Spanish trans-Pacific voyages between New Spain and the Philippines followed. Juan Gaetano crossed from Navidad, Mexico, in 1542, and the Spaniards claim that he discovered the Hawaiian Islands, giving the date 1555, however. Careful examination of the evidence by various research workers has conclusively proved that the islands were unknown until they were first visited by Captain James Cook in 1778.

The first Spanish settlement in the Philippines was made by Legaspi at Cebu in 1565. From then on, the voyages between New Spain and the Philippines were regular. The usual North American port was Acapulco, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and the regular route of the Spanish galleons to the Philippines was to make for the parallel between 12° and 13° N. and sail west to Guam, whence it was an easy matter to complete the voyage. On the return trip, the ships sailed north to latitude 35° N., where they caught the northwesterly winds which carried them to the American coast. It was through observation of these sailing directions that the Spaniards failed to encounter the Hawaiian Islands, which lie between latitudes 19° and 22° 15' N. The westward course on the parallel of Guam became well known and the British navigators, Drake, Cavendish, Woodes Rogers, Anson, and others followed it after harrying the coast of South America. The Dutch commanders, also seeking Spanish prizes, followed a similar course. Thus, the earliest voyages were made in the northern hemisphere and Polynesia, south of the equator, remained immune from such visitations.

With the conquest of Peru by Pizarro, Spain extended her American possessions into Peru and Chile, and the southern ports of Callao and Payta became established on the Peruvian coast. Even so, the Spanish ships worked north along the coast to Acapulco and made their crossings to the Philippines on the parallel of Guam. However, crossings south of the equator came in due time.