CERMEÑO, Sebastian Rodriguez

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CERMEÑO, Sebastian Rodriguez (fl 1595), Portuguese-born navigator who commanded the Manila galleon, San Agustin, during his explorations of the coast of California in 1595. Cermeño visited several California Channel Islands, although specifically which ones remain unclear. They were probably the islands of Santa Rosa and San Miguel, and perhaps Santa Catalina as well.

His ship was wrecked in northern California by a storm, and thus he returned southward in an open launch, San Buenaventura. He and his crew arrived on the southeast side of Santa Rosa Island on December 13, 1595, and reported: “there came alongside a small boat like a canoe, with two Indians in it rowing. And having arrived in the launch, they brought some 18 fish and a seal and gave them to us, for which we gave them some pieces of taffeta and cotton cloth in order that they should bring more. They went on shore and returned in the same boat with three Indians and brought nothing. At this island we went fishing with lines and caught some 30 fish like cabrillas, which we soon ate on account of our great hunger… On both [Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands] the land is bare and sterile, although inhabited by Indians; there are no ports or coves in them in which to take shelter.”

Upon his return to Spain, Cermeño was disgraced for having lost his galleon.


» H. R. Wagner The Voyage to California of Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeño in California Historical Society Quarterly III: 1 April 1924.