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Valdes y Flores Cayetano also known as Cayetano Valdes y Bazan
Spanish naval officer and hydrographer, known particularly for his surveys of the north-west coast of North America in 1792, together with Dionisio Alcala Galiano. Valdes joined the Spanish navy in 1781, saw service against Howe's fleet in 1782, and in 1789 accompanied the expedition of Alessandro Malaspina to the Pacific. On 8 March 1792 he was despatched from Acapulco in Mexico in the schooner Mexicana, accompanied by Galiano in the Sutil (aka Nuestra Señora del Carmen). Malaspina had decided that a thorough survey of the north-west coast of America was long overdue. In addition, Malaspina had himself at that time intended to visit and survey the Sandwich Islands, a plan which he was subsequently forced to abandon. Originally Francisco Antonio Mourelle was to lead the voyage, the main task of which was to explore the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but illness prevented him from fulfilling the task. Valdes and Galiano were directed in particular to improve on the discoveries of Manuel Quimper (who had begun a survey of the inland waterways in 1790 and had visited the Sandwich Islands in March and April 1792), and of Francisco de Eliza (who had surveyed the coast in 1790 and 1791 and had wintered at Nootka).
Valdes and Galiano sailed directly for Nootka Sound, on Vancouver Island, arriving there on 11 April 1492, and started their surveys of the inland waterways in June. On 13 June, the two Spanish commanders met up with the voyage of George Vancouver at Point Roberts, causing Vancouver some concern that the Spanish had arrived there before him. However, the two expeditions amicably exchanged notes, with the result that Valdes, impressed by Vancouver's ships and equipment, came subsequently to the opinion that further Spanish exploration towards the north-west would be pointless. Valdes himself had been on the coast in 1791, possibly with Eliza, and is reported to have spoken the local Indian language with some fluency. In fact it was from the natives that Valdes heard of a passage to the sea from north of the Strait of Georgia.They eventually succeeded in sailing north around Vancouver Island, returning to Nootka on 31 August 1782. They subsequently returned by way of Monterey to San Blas in Mexico.
Valdes returned to Spain soon after, commanded the Pelayo at the Battle of San Vicente (February 1797) and was present at the blockade of Cadiz (1797-98). From 1799 he served at Brest, and then in the West Indies, and returned to Cadiz in 1802. He was seriously wounded while in command of the Neptuno at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). His involvement in the internal Spanish conflicts of the 1820s led to his exile to Gibraltar in 1823 and then to England, where he remained for ten years. Restored to Spain by Isabel II in 1833, he was appointed captain-general of the navy and controler of the Department of Cadiz. He died at San Fernando in 1835.
Spain, 1967, Valdes y Flores