Portola Expedition: Saturday, November 11, 1769

To North of Woodside
California Historical Landmark No. 92

Gaspar de Portolá


The expedition turned back on the 11th of November making its way partly by the same marches, but endeavoring always to find another road to see if it would be shorter. On this day we proceeded for five hours over the road by which we had come.

Miguel Costansó


After hearing the report of the scouts, the commander decided to call together his officers in order to resolve jointly upon the course that might be suitable to adopt in the present circumstances, bearing in mind the service of God, and of the king, and their own honor.

The officers being assembled gave their votes in writing, and resolved to return in search of the port of Monterey which they knew, from consideration of the signs they had noted along the coast, must lie behind them. The missionary fathers likewise attended the meeting, and their opinion was asked for courtesy's sake. They concurred in the decision, recognizing that the return in search of the port of Monterey, which they also knew must lie behind, was necessary. The resolution was put into effect; in the afternoon the camp was moved two leagues from the stopping-place at the estuary, retracing our steps on the return from the port of San Francisco.

Fray Juan Crespi


The report of the explorers having been heard, in view of the state of the expedition in the matter of provisions as well as of health and strength, the commander decided to call a council of officers in order to determine, with the aid of their opinions, what course to pursue in the present circumstances, and they invited us two friars to take part so that we might also give our opinions. The council was held after asking the aid of God for its success and the assistance of the Holy Spirit, which was asked for in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated with this object. Being assembled in His name and congregated in the field-tent of the commander, all the officers gave their votes in writing. They were unanimously of the opinion that it was necessary to turn back, for they saw that the harbor of Monterey must have been left behind, and considered it foolhardy to go on -after having seen in the coast all the marks of the harbor of San Francisco, according to the descriptions and signs given by the pilot Cabrera Bueno in his itinerary. We friars were of the same opinion, adding that on the return another examination should be made of the Point of Pines that we had seen in the beginning of October. Although the commander was inclined to go ahead, in deference to the general opinion he had to agree, so he decided that plans should be made to begin the retreat this afternoon.* * For the identification of Monterey Bay, which he now went to seek once more, Portola was» dependent chiefly on the pilot Cabrera Bumo, who described the harbor as follows: "From this Point [Año Nuevo] the coast runs more to the east, making a large bay until it comes out from a point of low land, very heavily forested to the very sea, to which was given the name of Punta de Pinos, and is in 37* of latitude. From Point Año Nuevo to this point, high ranges run from northwest to southeast for twelve leagues. Looking straight at the point from the northwest one sees the Punta de Pinos. It is a fraiall ridge perhaps two leagues long, from northeast to southwest. It is heavily grown with pine forest, as I have said, and forms near the southern point a maze of barrancas, which is a sign by which to recognize it. On the northeast the Punta de Pinos forms a famous harbor, and by steering straight one may enter it and run close to the land in six fathoms. All this point and roadstead is rocky, but steering to the southeast and east until all the rocks are passed one comes to a famous beach. Before reaching it there is a good anchorage, clear and sheltered from all winds except from the north-northwest. In this port which they call Monte Rey there are many pines good for masts and lateen yards. Right close to the sea and the beach there is a salty estuary into which in spring tide the sea enters. To the southeast of this estuary at the distance of a musket shot from the beach, and close to the estuary, is a very moist plain, where, by digging just a little, fresh, abundant, and very good water flows. This harbor is in thirty-seven degrees, and it is a good port in which to succor the China ships, because the hind is the first they see when they come to New Spain. Following the coast from the Point of Pines toward the south-southwest there is another fine harbor running from north to south. It is sheltered from all winds and has a river of very good water and of slight depth, whose banks are well grown with black poplars very high and smooth, and other trees native of Spain. It comes down from very high, white mountains, and is called Rio de Carmelo, because the friars of this Order discovered it.


November 10 Day five at San Francisquito Creek
November 12 To San Andreas Lake
Portola Expedition 1769 Diaries