In early 1587, at the urging of Sir Francis Drake, a fleet was formed to delay the fast moving Spanish Armada. Queen Elizabeth I gave her consent and lent Drake six of her own ships for the fleet. There were 4 first rate galleons: The flagship Elizabeth Bonaventure of 600 tons, the Golden Lion of 500 tons with William Borugh as Vice Admiral, The Rainbow, a brand new vessel of 500 tons and the Dreadnought of 400 tons. There were also two royal pinnaces, the 50 ton Spy and the 25 ton Cygnet also sailed with the fleet to carry storage. 3 investors also sent ships to them, 1 each. Charles Howard of Efffingham, Lord Admiral of England, sent his 150 ton galleon White Lion. Drake's cousin John Hawkins sent his own 130 ton bark Hawkins and Sir William Wynter sent the 200 ton galleon Minion to Drake's fleet. Drake himself contributed 4 of his own ships, of which we know 3. The 80 ton Drake, the 200 ton galleon Thomas (later to be used as a fireship) and the 70 ton Elizabeth and 1 other ship made up Drake's investment. Some various London merchant owners sent 10 ships for the expedition of delaying the armada. They included: the 400 ton Merchant Royal, the 350 ton Susan and the historic 300 ton Edward Bonaventure. 3 others ranging from 150-200 tons were also contributed, along with 4 pinnaces. Grand total: 16 ships and 7 pinnaces, 23 sailboats. Drake departed Plymouth harbor on April 2nd of 1587, and just in time. The queen sent new orders, but they never reached Drake's fleet. On April 19th, Drake entered Cadiz harbor at 4:00 p.m. 60 ships were in harbor.

The raid on Cadiz, with a burning ship

Drake sailed in and attacked. A 1,000 ton Italian ship was sank by the London ships and the Rainbow. A 700 ton Biscayan Galleon for the Armada was burned. Santa Cruz's 1,500 ton flagship was also burnt to the waterline. 37 ships were burned and sank, with 4 as prizes. Drake also destroyed many fishing smacks and captured the San Felipe, the Spanish king's own ship and took home 46,000 farthings. Drake had done marvelously well, and the armada was delayed by a full year. Yet, the queen was offended.