The San Agustín : California Shipwreck


   In November 1595, a Spanish galleon named San Agustín sank in the waters off Point Reyes, California. It is the oldest known shipwreck on the U.S. West Coast.

   The 250-year history of the Manila galleon trade and the important role it served in the expansion of world commerce is surprisingly under told.  The journey of the San Agustín is a fascinating story of ambition over reaching capability and a tale of perseverance, courage and luck. “The San Agustín: California Shipwreck” is the first documentary exclusively dedicated to telling this story.

   Under the fearless guidance of Captain Sebastian Rodriquez Cermeño, nearly 70 survivors of the San Agustín built a small launch and sailed from Point Reyes back to Mexico. From the crew’s first hand accounts of the expedition, we know of their battles with the elements, sickness and starvation which eventually forced the desperate men to eat the ship’s dog. 

   Mysteriously, as detailed as Captain Cermeño was with his written account of the journey, there is no description of the sinking itself, nor a manifest of the ship’s cargo. Although attempts were made, the crew was able to salvage very little from the sunken galleon, making the wreck site a virtual time capsule of 16th century Spanish exploration.


The Story

The San Agustín is the oldest known shipwreck on the US West Coast. She sank in Drake’s Bay at Point Reyes, California in 1595.

image courtesy Gordon Miller

The San Agustin in the News

KQED-TV, PBS San Francisco to Air Documentary on Galleon San Agustín

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                          November 1595 ~ 2013

418th Anniversary of San Agustín Expedition in America

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