Although this voyage turned out to little or no account to Juan Ponce, it yet encouraged him to go to court to sue for some reward for having discovered this new country, which he still continued to believe an island or cluster of islands, and which opinion was retained by the Spaniards for some years. Yet this voyage was actually beneficial on another account, by the discovery of a passage to Spain from the West Indies through the channel of Bahama, which was first performed by the pilot Alaminos. For the better understanding the voyage of Ponce, it must be observed that the Lucayo or Bahama Islands consist of three groups, the first, or Bahama cluster gives name to the passage, and in which the currents are most impetuous: The second is called De los Organos; and the third the Martyrs, which are next to the Cayos de las Tortugas, or Turtle Keys to the westwards; which last are not to be seen from any distance, being all low sands, and in consequence many ships have perished on them, and all along the Bahama channel, and on the islands of Tortugas. Havannah in the island of Cuba and Florida, are south and north of each other; and between them are these before-mentioned islands of Organos, Bahama, Martyrs, and Tortugas, having a channel with a violent current, twenty leagues across in the narrowest part between Havannah and the Martyrs, and fourteen leagues from the Martyrs to Florida. The widest part of this channel is forty leagues, with many shoals and deep channels between these, but has no safe passage for ships, and is only practicable for canoes. But this passage from the Havannah for Spain, is along the channel of Bahama, between the Havannah, the Martyrs, the Lucayos, and Cape Canaveral.
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No farther attempt appears to have been made towards the conquest and settlement of Florida by the Spaniards, till the year 1528, when Panfilo de Narvaez made a most disastrous expedition to that country, which will form the subject of the ensuing section of this chapter; except that about the year 1525, the licentiate Luke Vasquez de Ayllon sailed with three ships for that country from Santiago in the island of Hispaniola. Vasquez arrived with his small armament at Cape Santa Elena in Florida, where he found an Indian town called Oritza; since named Chicora by the Spaniards, and another town in the neighbourhood called Guale, to which the Spaniards have given the name of Gualdape. At this place is the river Jordan, so named from the pilot by whom it was discovered, and where Vasquez lost one of his ships. He proceeded however in his enterprise with the other two ships, and landed two hundred men upon the coast of Florida; but being himself unacquainted with military discipline, and little regarded by his men, his troops were defeated by the natives and mostly slain. The few who escaped returned to Hispaniola; some alleging that