With regard to a presence in the Indian Ocean, the British were slow out of the blocks, but actually the first to raise capital and share the risk of trading with the far distant East Indies
The British East India Company was granted an Royal Charter by Elizabeth I in December 1600. This was after one successful trip around the Cape of Good Hope by a British merchant group, and another where all the ships were lost at sea.
In the last years of the sixteenth century, a group of London merchants met and formed a corporation raising capital to purchase ships and finance future voyages to the East Indies. In December 1600 Queen Elizabeth I awarded the newly formed company a monopoly on all British trade for a period of fifteen years.
However, the entry into the spice trade was not easy. The British were third in line behind the Dutch and the Portuguese who were each well established in the region, having established trading posts and local relationships (if that can be said). As the British moved in hostilities arose wit both the Dutch and the Portuguese. This was costly and impacted on profits, and this was probably the reason why the British, in the end, confined themselves to exploiting the trade opportunities with India where the other European powers were less entrenched.
All said, this was to be a strategic move that resulted in the British East India Company becoming one of the worlds most successful companies of all time. They effectively became a defacto government ruling over millions of people across the Indian sub-continent.
With this move by the British towards India, the British will recede from our journey of discovery, but they will come to the fore later, not so much with economic exploitation as their goal, but exploration and glory for king and country.
But glory in these times still meant for counties of the East Indies, at best absorption into a European sphere of influence, at worst, conquest and ruthless exploitation.