Wednesday, June 10/17951
Cádiz, April 15: The corvettes Descubierta [and Atrevida] and the schooner Sutíl, which left Cádiz at the end of July 1789 to explore the coasts of South America and its adjacent islands, from Cape Horn to the extreme Northwest of America, are now back in harbour in Spain. The results of investigations carried out during this expedition make it certain that there is no passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the coasts of Northwest America between the 59th, 60th and 61st degrees of latitude. The schooners Sutíl and Mexicana, detached from the other boats at the beginning of 1792, contributed, in collaboration with English vessels under the command of Captain Vancouver, to determining the position of the immense archipelago named after Admiral Fonte and Juan de Fuca. The corvettes used the best part of the same year to explore the Marianas Islands, the Philippines, and Macao on the coast of China. They sailed together between the island of Mindanao and that of New Guinea, and, crossing the Equator while heading east, traversed, in unknown seas, a distance of five hundred leagues. They sailed through the New Hebrides, and visited New Zealand, New Holland and the archipelago of the Friendly Islands, including Vavau, which until now have not been reconnoitred by any foreign navigator.
This voyage considerably increased knowledge in botany, lithology and hydrography. Experiments made on the gravity of bodies, repeated at various latitudes, should conduce to important discoveries on the irregularity of the shape of the earth; discoveries that will serve as a basis for an universal standard that can be established in Europe. Through research into the civil and political history of the nations that were visited, great knowledge of man will have been acquired, and artefacts gathered that will shed much light on the migrations of these peoples and the progress of their civilization.
Nature has revealed, in the immense extent of the Spanish possessions, productions unknown until this day, that can, by leading to new speculation, increase the means and the strength of this power.
This expedition did not cost human kind a single tear, which makes it without equal among all enterprises of its kind, ancient as well as modern. No tribe, no people visited, saw these new Argonauts reddening themselves with its blood, but instead each received new ideas, novel instruments and useful seeds.
The corvettes themselves were perfectly successful in the preservation of their crews. Their total loss amounted to that of three or four people perishing on each, despite the fact that they had been exposed for a very long time to the scorching heat of the torrid zone. The death of Don Antonio Pineda is the only event during the entire expedition that one can regard as truly unfortunate.
The story of this voyage is to be published: its prospectus is already in preparation.
1 Translated by John Black.
Updated: June 13, 2018