Off the west coast of South America, Drake raided Spanish ships and ports, seizing silver, gold, wine, and jewels. He continued north as far as what is now Oregon, where he was forced to halt due to “most vile, thick, and stinking fogs.”
Drake now faced a dilemma. His ship already overflowed with plunder, so he dared not try to sail through the hostile and alert Spanish in the south. The only way to return to England, he boldly decided, was to follow Magellan’s route across the Pacific.
For the next 68 days, the Golden Hind sailed west, steadily slicing through the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Finally, the ship stopped at several islands that dot the giant ocean. On one, the natives took whatever they could grab. Drake called the place “Island of Thieves.”
At the Spice Islands, Drake loaded more valuable cargo before sailing across the Indian Ocean, around the tip of Africa, and north to England. After two years and ten months at sea, Drake and the crew of the Golden Hind returned safely to England.
The Spanish king, furious with Drake, ordered Queen Elizabeth I to cut off Drake’s head. Instead, Elizabeth knighted him, and he became a hero.