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Looking for sources on the Spanish navy in the Pacific, in the late 18th century

Kpt Lautenschlaeger

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I would like to pick your collective nerdbrain for a project. A friend of mine and I have bought a load of the new Black Seas ship models. We intend to start a tabletop wargaming campaign in a sort of what-if alternate history, set at the end of the XVIIIth century. Since nobody wants to make the obvious and boring choice, my mate has opted to play French, and I will sail under the Spanish flag. We’ve decided to set this in the southeast pacific, around the Solomon islands, so as to be far away from war theaters in Europe and the Americas.

The premise will be that he expedition of the Comte de Lapérouse did not actually vanish off the face of the sea after weighing anchor in New South Wales. Rather, the Comte made landfall in New Caledonia, where he found evidence that A Thing of Vital Importance is located somewhere in the Solomons. This will serve as the campaign’s McGuffin, the exact nature of which we will play to find out. So de Lapérouse dispatched one of his ships to the French fleet in the Indian ocean, to call for reinforcements and set a course for the Solomons, never to be seen again. The dispatch caused quite a stir, and a small French squadron is now being sent to those islands.

And here is my question (finally): I was unable to find any useful sources for what the Spanish had going on in the Philippines at the end of the XVIIIth century. I’d like to base the narrative for why a Spanish squadron is headed for the Solomons off of that information. Online searches in English did not yield much, and my Spanish isn’t good enough to employ proper search-fu. I can read Spanish sources, though.

So, does anyone know a good starting point for researching the Spanish navy in the Philipines, 1780 or so?

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