On September 26, 1580, English seaman Francis Drake returned to England as the first British navigator to sail around the world. It took him almost three years to do it.
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Drake set out with a crew of five ships on December 13, 1577. The initial goal was to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific Coast of what was known as the New World — basically, the Americas. It was a devastating trip, with two ships being abandoned in South America, one wrecking in a storm, and another giving up the ghost and returning to England. Drake took the last remaining ship, the Golden Hind, out to the Pacific Ocean, where he proceeded to raid Spanish settlements to steal their treasures.
At the time, finding a northeast passage from North America to the Atlantic was something of a big deal. Drake didn’t manage it; he reached as far as modern-day Washington state before he turned around and returned the way he came.
He returned on September 26 laden with treasure, but perhaps nothing was as valuable as the information he learned about the world’s oceans, which he could then share with other future seamen. That was seriously crucial for future journeys out into the great unknown and aided in the overall colonization of the New World.