Cathay and the Way Thither:
the Navigation of the Frobisher Voyages
By James McDermott and David Waters
he later sixteenth century was a period in which England's traditional backwardness in ocean-going expertise was swiftly dissipating. The northwest enterprise was one of many ventures during which new skills were tested and the experience of unfamiliar conditions assimilated. This paper examines the background to the hydrographical and cosmographical developments which allowed a nation of sea-farers to become oceanic voyagers, identifies the peculiar lessons of Frobisher's three voyages to Baffin Island, and places their achievement into the wider context of contemporary English exploration.