After plundering Spanish ports along the west coast of South America, Drake headed north in search of a passage back to the Atlantic. He claimed to have traveled as far north as 48° N (on parallel with Vancouver, Canada) before extreme cold conditions turned him back. Drake anchored near today’s San Francisco and claimed the surrounding land, which he called New Albion, for Queen Elizabeth.
Heading back west across the Pacific in July 1579, he stopped in the Philippines and bought spices in the Molucca Islands. He then sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and arrived back in England’s Plymouth Harbor in September 1580. Despite complaints from the Spanish government about his piracy, Drake was honored as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and became a popular hero. Several months after his return, Queen Elizabeth personally knighted him aboard the Golden Hind.