The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 185
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The Alta California Supply Ships, 1773-76
activities in regard to the supply-ships from the middle of 1773
to the close of 1776, a period embracing the great famine of 1774,
and Bucarely's measures to prevent its recurrence, in the face of
a development of the province calling for increased supplies.3
In 1768 a town was founded by Jose de Galvez at the port of
San Blas to serve as a base of supplies, not only for Baja Cali-
fornia, but also for Alta California, which Galvez was already plan-
ning to occupy. In the first years of the occupation, but one ship
a year was required for Alta California. Writing to Arriaga,4
June 26, 1773, of the departure of the San Carlos with provisions
for San Diego and Monterey, Bucarely announced that he planned
to send another ship in November, although he understood that
the Californias were already well provided with supplies.5 A
month later, July 27, 1773, he wrote at some length of new ar-
rangements that he had made for such voyages. The difficulty of
navigation from the mainland to both Alta and Baja California6
had caused him to seek a remedy. From reports made to him he
had learned that December or the beginning of January was the
best season for a voyage to Monterey, that all the year except from
April to the middle of June was suitable for voyages to San Diego,
and that all the year, but especially January, was favorable for
voyages to Loreto. San Blas was too hot and damp for storage
of maize (which formed the principal part of supplies for the
Californias), without exposing it to risk of damage. As crops
were gathered in January, it would be best to put them aboard
direct. Other effects could be gathered beforehand. Bucarely
8Materials for this article were found mainly in the Archivo General
de Indias at Seville, Spain. Copies of several documents in the Museo
Nacional of Mexico- have also been used, as also Palou, Noticias (San
Francisco. 1874), and Vida (Mexico. 1787).
4Julian de Arriaga was minister for the Indies (ministro general de
Indias) in Spain from 1751 to 1776.
5A. G. de I., 104-6-14. Approved in Arriaga to Bucarely, Oct. 13, 1773.
"Documents on this point are legion. Two easily accessible references
are the following: Galvez, Informe (Mexico, 1767), 141-47; Bancroft,
North Mexican States and Texas, I (San Francisco. 1889). One has
only to note the many voyages across the Gulf of California mentioned
in the latter to get an understanding of the difficulties, which were in
some respects even greater on the long voyage to Alta California. In
brief, these difficulties were the result of having small ships, uncharted
coasts, severe storms, prevalence of scurvy, lack of skilled officers, and
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916, periodical, 1916; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101067/m1/200/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.