Secrets of the Manila Galleons                                               

  Contact Tom Peterson at:

Artistry of Fernando Brambila--Sometimes Manila Galleons were forced to stop at Puerto de Palapag, Samar on their way to the Embocadero

(from Descubrimientos Españoles en el Mar del Sur , Editorial Naval, Madrid)


Title page of Felipe Thompson’s diary, 1773

Aug., 2011 – V1.  ISBN  978-1-4057-9069-7, 167 pages;  V2.  ISBN  978-1-4507-9070-3, 74 pages

Secrets of the Manila Galleons, Library of Congress Control (Catalog) No. 2007540301, now has ISBN numbers.  Volume 1 is a stand alone book.  Volume 2 is for folks who want the Spanish version of “Logs of the Manila Galleons” also.  The price is still $42 U.S. plus postage as it has been since 2005 and each chapter has its own bibliography.  “Logs of the Manila Galleons in Modern Spanish” (called Volume 2 of Secrets of the Manila Galleons) is still available for $20 plus postage.  If you purchase this with V1 the cost is $15.


2012—NEW:  Epilogue, “Manila Galleons, the Rest of the Story” is out.  It is about the lives of Manila Galleon crew or passengers before or after sailing aboard the MGs.  The Epilogue and the ISBNs constitute a new edition of Vol.1.


In the 20 years of doing this research my goal always was to write about things not found in William Lytle Schurz’s classic book, The Manila Galleon, still the bible of MGs.  My book is another general source about the Galleons and is a good companion to Schurz’s book.

Table of Contents, V1

Three chapters about whether the Spanish discovered Hawaii before Captain James Cook in 1778:

            Chapter 1:  What would the Spanish Have Seen if They Approached the Big Island of Hawaii in a Galleon?

            Chapter 2:  The Centurion, Lord George Anson’s flagship, and Hawaii.

            Chapter 3:  End of Trilogy About Whether the Spanish might have Discovered Hawaii or Sighted the Islands Before Captain Cook in 1778.

Three chapters about the working careers of foreign Manila Galleon Pilots in the 18th Century:

Chapter 4:  Gerόnimo de Montero – Portuguese, who was the ill-fated commander of the Nuestra Señora de Covadonga captured by Lord George Anson in 1743.

Chapter 5:  Enrique Herman – German, who sailed on many MGs and proposed a new route around the northern tip of Luzon in 1730.

Chapter 6:  Felipe Thompson – English, who discovered several islands in the South Pacific while trying a new MG route in 1773.

Chapter 7:  San JoséLife of an 18th Century Manila Galleon.  This chronicles the first official stop of an MG at Monterey, California in 1779.

Chapter 8:  Beeswax Galleon – Discrepancies and Ironies.  This chronicles a search for the name of the Spanish Galleon that ran aground on the Oregon Coast at Nehalem, that has been spewing out beeswax for centuries.

Chapter 9:  Manila Galleons – What’s in a Name?

Chapter 10:  Logs of the Manila Galleons.  I translated the entire 222 page manuscript Erik Dahlgren used as reference for the years 1699 – 1740 in his Were the Hawaiian Islands Visited By the Spaniards Before Captain Cook in 1778? This document by Pedro de Antioquia at Manila, Philippines in 1742, British Library Add. MS 19293, represents the closest thing to “Manila Galleon Logs” that exists.

It lists:

1.      Sailing directions with dates, longitude and latitude.

2.      Descriptions of things seen along the way, i.e. debris in the water, flora and fauna.

3.      Lists of deaths that occurred during the voyages.

4.      Rambling, formal on board meetings (juntas) and exhaustive lists of officers and crew that signed the meeting’s proceedings.

Chapter 11:  La Naval de Manila – The Manila Galleon Twins.  This is my first venture down into the 17th Century and it concerns the two galleons that saved the Philippine Islands from the Dutch threat about 1650.

Chapter 12:  Doves and the Manila Galleons.  This informs the way research of these ancient Pacific galleons can help science today.

Chapter 13:  Health Care Along the Routes of the Manila Galleons.  This was presented at the San Diego Maritime Museum’s, “Spain’s Legacy in the Pacific” conference in Sept., 2004.

 Chapter 14:  The Working Career of Antonio Nieto, late 17th Century Manila Galleon Commander.