Don Gaspar de Portola, October 31, 1769

Traveled two hours of very poor road uphill over a very high mountain, stopping on the height. Here twenty-five heathens visited us; and the Sergeant and eight soldiers were dispatched to explore inasmuch as some faralones, a point of land, and a bight had been seen and according to the History of Cabrera we were close to San Francisco Harbor. We stayed four days here.

Miguel Costanso, Tuesday, October 31, 1769

The heights which forbade us the way along the seashore, easy to climb though they were everywhere on the way up, had a very abrupt steep descent upon the opposite side. The pioneers set out very early in the morning to fix it, and with them, the Sergeant of the Presidio to speed the work; and afterward we followed along with the pack-train and the remainder of the men at eleven o'clock in the forenoon.

From the summit we descried a large bay lying to the northwest under a point of land reaching far out to the sea, over which there had been much disputing the day before as to whether it was an island or no, it having been impossible then, because of some horizon-mist covering it, to make it out as clearly as now. Out beyond, about to the west-northwest with respect to us, were seen seven white faralones [island rocks] of various sizes, and looking back towards the bay there were abrupt white bluffs made out more to the northward; while turning around northeastwardly, the mouth of an inlet was discovered which seemed to make inland. On sight of these marks we turned to the sailing-directions of pilot Cabrera Bueno, and thought that beyond all doubt what we were looking upon was San Francisco Harbor, and so we were persuaded that Monterey Harbor lay behind us, an opinion accepted by most because of the agreement between the marks given by that pilot in his rutter and the ones which we were now observing. The latitude we were in, by the engineer's reckoning, of thirty seven degrees thirty three or thirty five minutes, indicated the same. And so the point seen outside, which many had thought an island, must be Point Reyes; although the said pilot locates it in thirty eight degrees thirty minutes, that is a degree farther north. But this writer's authority was of little weight in the judgment those with any skill or of those who were guided by them, owing to our previous experience of his latitudes, which generally proved too high. And so what is there to be surprised at in down Point Reyes a degree farther north than it in fact is, if he does the same with Point Conception, locating it in thirty five degrees and a half, whereas repeated observations have established it as lying in thirty four degrees and a half, while San Diego harbor, according to the same author, lies in thirty four degrees and a half, while San Diego's latitude indisputably exceeds thirty two and a half by only a few minutes.

We went down to the harbor and placed our camp a short way from the shore, close to a stream of running water sinking into the ground and turning into a marsh of considerable extent that reached nearly to the sea.

The country was plentiful in grass and all surrounded by very tall heights making it a deep hollow that opened only towards the bay northwestward. We had gone one league.

November 1st, 1769

There were a few who were not yet fully persuaded that we had left the harbor of Monterey behind, nor would they believe either that we were at San Francisco harbor. Our commander ordered the scouts out to survey the country for a certain distance, assigning them a three days' limit for their return and hoping that in this survey they would perhaps bring back information to remove the skeptics out of the perplexity they were in.

From the inner coast or shore of the south side of the bay, the farallones were found to bear west by south; Point Reyes, which is the point upon the north side of the bay, west sixteen degrees north; an some white bluffs farther in, northwest by west.

Thursday, November 2nd 1769

Several soldiers asked permission to go out ahunting, since a great many deer had been seen. Some of the them went a good way from camp an so far up into the heights that they came back after nightfall. These men said that they had seen to the northward an enormous sea-arm or inlet shooting as far inland as eye could see toward the southeast; that they had made out handsome plains all thick with trees; and that the quantity of smokes they had made out rising from all over the flat did not allow them any doubt that the land must have been well peopled with heathen villages.

This could only confirm us more and more in the opinion that we were at San Francisco harbor, and that the opinion that this was the inlet mentioned by the pilot Cabrera Bueno, the mouth of which we had seen while coming down the slope towards the bay, in among the some bluffs, and of which this pilot speaks the following words in his rutter: "By the middle bluff there enters a salt-water inlet without any breakers; once within, you will find friendly Indians, and will easily make fresh water and wood."

From their news, we also suspected that the scouts could not have got across to the opposite shore that was viewed to the northward, and consequently must not have got so far as to survey Point Reyes, as it was no few days' affair to make their way, as they would inevitably have had to do, around the head of the inlet, whose extent was so dwelt upon by our hunters.

Friday, November 3rd, 1769

At night the scouts returned to camp firing off their guns. They had us in great suspense until, all turning out to meet them, we commenced to satisfy our curiosity by questioning them and getting their replies.

The reason for their rejoicing proved to be none other than their having concluded, from the uncertain signs made by the Indians, that there was a harbor, and a ship in it, at two days' march from the place they had reached (which was at the end or head of the inlet). Some, upon this mere hint, became fully persuaded they were already at Monterey, and tried to convince the rest of the fact; and they made no doubt that the packet San Joseph was at that appointed spot, waiting for us.

November 4th

With this news, our commander determined to continue the journey in search of the harbor and vessel of which the scouts had been informed by the heathens, and in the afternoon the march was begun, along the southern shore or beach of San Francisco harbor; we at once went into the mountains steering a course to the northeastward, and from the height of a hill descried a great inlet drawing to the southeast and south-southeastward. Leaving it to our left hand turning our backs upon the harbor, we took a hollow open to the south and south-southeastward, and at sunset stopped in the shelter of a cluster of live oaks bordering the skirts of the heights upon the western side. It was tow leagues' march.

To Bruce Hallman's Pacifica page.