The Mayflower

Thursday, 1 March 2018 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Tall ships, Museums, Exhibitions, Yacht of the Month
Reading Time:  13 minutes

Mayflower replica in Plymouth © flickr.com - Paul Keleher/cc-by-2.0

Mayflower replica in Plymouth © flickr.com – Paul Keleher/cc-by-2.0

The Mayflower was an English ship that famously transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England to the New World in 1620. There were 102 passengers, and the crew is estimated to have been about 30, but the exact number is unknown. This voyage has become an iconic story in some of the earliest annals of American history, with its story of death and of survival in the harsh New England winter environment. The culmination of the voyage in the signing of the Mayflower Compact was an event which established a rudimentary form of democracy, with each member contributing to the welfare of the community. There was a second ship named Mayflower that made the London to Plymouth, Massachusetts voyage several times.

The Pilgrim ship Mayflower was square-rigged and beak-bowed with high, castle-like structures fore and aft that served to protect the ship’s crew and the main deck from the elements—designs that were typical with English merchant ships of the early 17th century. Her stern carried a 30-foot high, square aft-castle which made the ship extremely difficult to sail against the wind and unable to sail well against the North Atlantic’s prevailing westerlies, especially in the fall and winter of 1620, and the voyage from England to America took more than two months as a result. The Mayflower‘s return trip to London in April–May 1621 took less than half that time, with the same strong winds now blowing in the direction of the voyage. No dimensions of her hull can be stated exactly, since this was many years before such measurements were standardized. She probably measured about 100 feet (30 m) in length from the forward end at the beak of her prow to the tip of her stern superstructure aft. She was about 25 feet (7.6 m) at her widest point, with the bottom of her keel about 12 feet (3.6 m) below the waterline. William Bradford estimated that Mayflower had a cargo capacity of 180 tons. Surviving records from that time indicate that she could certainly accommodate 180 casks of wine in her cargo hold. The casks were great barrels holding hundreds of gallons of claret wine each. This was a ship that traditionally was heavily armed while on trading routes around Europe, due to the possibility of encountering pirates and privateers of all types. And with its armament, the ship and crew could easily be conscripted by the English monarch at any time in case of conflict with other nations. By 1620, the Mayflower was aging, nearing the end of the usual 15-year working life of an English merchant ship in that era.

Aft on the main deck in the stern was the cabin for Master Christopher Jones, measuring about ten by seven feet (3 m × 2.1 m). Forward of that was the steerage room, which housed a whipstaff (tiller extension) for sailing control; not a wheel, as in later ships. Also here was the ship’s compass and probably also berths for the ship’s officers. Forward of the steerage room was the capstan, a vertical axle used to pull in ropes or cables. Far forward on the main deck, just aft of the bow, was the forecastle space where the ship’s cook prepared meals for the crew; it may also have been where the ship’s sailors slept. The poop deck was above the cabin of Master Jones, on the ship’s highest level above the stern on the aft castle. The poop house was on this deck, which may have been for passengers’ use either for sleeping or cargo. On normal merchant ships, this space was probably a chart room or a cabin for the master’s mates.

Mayflower replica in Plymouth © flickr.com - Paul Keleher/cc-by-2.0 Mayflower replica in Plymouth © OldPine/cc-by-sa-1.0 Edward Winslow's home, now the Mayflower Society House and Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts © swampyank/cc-by-sa-3.0
<
>
Edward Winslow's home, now the Mayflower Society House and Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts © swampyank/cc-by-sa-3.0
In early September, western gales began to make the North Atlantic a dangerous place for sailing. The Mayflower‘s provisions were already quite low when departing Southampton, and they became lower still by delays of more than a month. The passengers had been on board the ship for this entire time, and they were quite worn out and in no condition for a very taxing, lengthy Atlantic journey cooped up in cramped spaces in a small ship. But the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth on September 6, 1620 with what Bradford called “a prosperous wind”. Aboard the Mayflower were many stores that supplied the pilgrims with the essentials needed for their journey and future lives. It is assumed that they carried tools and weapons, including cannon, shot, and gunpowder, as well as some live animals, including dogs, sheep, goats, and poultry. Horses and cattle came later. The ship also carried two boats: a long boat and a “shallop”, a 21-foot boat powered by oars or sails. She also carried 12 artillery pieces (eight minions and four sakers), as the Pilgrims feared that they might need to defend themselves against enemy European forces, as well as the natives. The passage was a miserable one, with huge waves constantly crashing against the ship’s topside deck until a key structural support timber fractured. The passengers had already suffered agonizing delays, shortages of food, and other shortages, and they were now called upon to provide assistance to the ship’s carpenter in repairing the fractured main support beam. This was repaired with the use of a metal mechanical device called a jackscrew, which had been loaded on board to help in the construction of settler homes. It was now used to secure the beam to keep it from cracking further, making the ship seaworthy enough. The crew of the Mayflower had some devices to assist them en route, such as a compass for navigation, as well as a log and line system to measure speed in nautical miles per hour (knots). Time was measured with the ancient method of an hourglass.

On November 9, 1620, they sighted present-day Cape Cod. They spent several days trying to sail south to their planned destination of the Colony of Virginia, where they had obtained permission to settle from the Company of Merchant Adventurers. However, strong winter seas forced them to return to the harbor at Cape Cod hook, well north of the intended area, where they anchored on November 11. The settlers wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact after the ship dropped anchor at Cape Cod, in what is now Provincetown Harbor, in order to establish legal order and to quell increasing strife within the ranks. On Monday, November 27, an exploring expedition was launched under the direction of Capt. Christopher Jones to search for a suitable settlement site. As master of the Mayflower, Jones was not required to assist in the search, but he apparently thought it in his best interest to assist the search expedition. There were 34 persons in the open shallop: 24 passengers and 10 sailors. They were obviously not prepared for the bitter winter weather which they encountered on their reconnoiter, the Mayflower passengers not being accustomed to winter weather much colder than back home. They were forced to spend the night ashore due to the bad weather which they encountered, ill-clad in below-freezing temperatures with wet shoes and stockings that became frozen. Bradford wrote, “Some of our people that are dead took the original of their death here” on that expedition. The settlers explored the snow-covered area and discovered an empty native village, now known as Corn Hill in Truro. The curious settlers dug up some artificially made mounds, some of which stored corn, while others were burial sites. The modern writer Nathaniel Philbrick claims that the settlers stole the corn and looted and desecrated the graves, sparking friction with the locals. Philbrick goes on to say that they explored the area of Cape Cod for several weeks as they moved down the coast to what is now Eastham, and he claims that the Pilgrims were looting and stealing native stores as they went. He then writes about how they decided to relocate to Plymouth after a difficult encounter with the Nausets at First Encounter Beach in December 1620. However, the only contemporary account of events, William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation, records only that the pilgrims took “some” of the corn, to show to others back at the boat, leaving the rest. They later took what they needed from another store of grain, but paid the natives back in six months, and there was no resulting conflict.

During the winter, the passengers remained on board the Mayflower, suffering an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. When it ended, only 53 passengers remained—just over half; half of the crew died, as well. In the spring, they built huts ashore, and the passengers disembarked from the Mayflower on March 21, 1621. The settlers decided to mount “our great ordnances” on the hill overlooking the settlement in late February 1621, due to the fear of attack by the natives. Christopher Jones supervised the transportation of the “great guns”—about six iron cannons that ranged between four and eight feet (1.2 to 2.4 m) in length and weighed almost half a ton. The cannon were able to hurl iron balls 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) in diameter as far as 1,700 yards (1.5 km). This action made what was no more than a ramshackle village almost into a well-defended fortress. Jones had originally planned to return to England as soon as the Pilgrims found a settlement site. But his crew members began to be ravaged by the same diseases that were felling the Pilgrims, and he realized that he had to remain in Plymouth Harbor “till he saw his men began to recover.” The Mayflower lay in New Plymouth harbor through the winter of 1620–21, then set sail for England on April 5, 1621, her empty hold ballasted with stones from the Plymouth Harbor shore. As with the Pilgrims, her sailors had been decimated by disease. Jones had lost his boatswain, his gunner, three quartermasters, the cook, and more than a dozen sailors. The Mayflower made excellent time on her voyage back to England. The westerly winds that had buffeted her coming out pushed her along going home, and she arrived at the home port of Rotherhithe in London on May 6, 1621, less than half the time that it had taken her to sail to America.” Jones died after coming back from a voyage to France on March 5, 1622, at about age 52. For the next two years, the Mayflower lay at her berth in Rotherhithe, not far from Jones’ grave at St. Mary’s church. By 1624, she was no longer useful as a ship; her subsequent fate is unknown, but she was probably broken up about that time.

Read more on MayflowerHistory.com, Wikipedia Plimoth Plantation and Wikipedia Mayflower (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

East Village in Manhattan

East Village in Manhattan

[caption id="attachment_152090" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Building between First and Second Avenues © Beyond My Ken/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]East Village is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Its boundary to the north is Gramercy Park and Stuyvesant Town, to the south by the Lower East Side, and to the east by the East River. Generally, although definitions vary on the neighborhood's exact street boundaries, the East Village is considered to be the area east of Broadway to the East Ri...

[ read more ]

Old Orchard Beach in Maine

Old Orchard Beach in Maine

[caption id="attachment_233751" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Old Orchard Beach Pier © flickr.com - Paul VanDerWerf/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Old Orchard Beach is a resort town and census-designated place (CDP) in York County, Maine, United States. The population was 8,960 at the 2020 census. It is part of the Portland−South Portland−Biddeford, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located on the inner side of Saco Bay on the Atlantic Ocean, the town is a popular seaside resort. The downtown contains man...

[ read more ]

Weimar - Goethe, Schiller and Bauhaus

Weimar - Goethe, Schiller and Bauhaus

[caption id="attachment_160451" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Weimar City Palace © Maros M r a z[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the Bundesland of Thuringia, north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899. Weimar was the capital of the Duchy (after 1815 the Grand Duchy) of Saxe-Weimar (German: Sachsen-Weimar). Weimar's...

[ read more ]

Romantic Hotel Muottas Muragl, the first plus-energy hotel in the Alps

Romantic Hotel Muottas Muragl, the first plus-energy hotel in the Alps

[caption id="attachment_161137" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © muottasmuragl.ch[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]During summer 2010, the entire Berghotel Muottas Muragl was completely renovated. Particular focus was placed on the aspect of environmental-friendliness, giving rise to the first plus-energy hotel in the Alps. Besides constructing the building according to the principles and requirements of the Swiss "Minergie" ecological label, this project went one step further. Although the surface area of the building was e...

[ read more ]

A former military base on its way to a zero energy city

A former military base on its way to a zero energy city

[caption id="attachment_4038" align="aligncenter" width="586" caption="© Enwerk"][/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The planning area is an abandoned former American military base in the Mietraching district, with a total surface area of 70 hectares. Most of the residential buildings in this small autonomous garden city were built in the 1930s, as the base was originally established in 1936 as a German air base. The first planning section comprises the so-called leisure neighbourhood in the north. The existing hotel is to be converted ...

[ read more ]

Lower Manhattan in New York

Lower Manhattan in New York

[caption id="attachment_232306" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © flickr.com - Daniele Pieroni/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Lower Manhattan (also known as Downtown Manhattan or Downtown New York) is the southernmost part of Manhattan, the central borough for business, culture, and government in New York City, which is the most populated city in the United States with over 8.8 million residents as of the 2020 census. Lower Manhattan is defined most commonly as the area delineated on the north by 14th Street, on the we...

[ read more ]

Raine Island National Park in Queensland

Raine Island National Park in Queensland

[caption id="attachment_218341" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Green Sea Turtles and Masked Boobies © National Marine Sanctuaries - Mark Sullivan[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Raine Island is a vegetated coral cay 32 hectares (79 acres) in total area situated on the outer edges of the Great Barrier Reef off north-eastern Australia. It lies approximately 620 km (390 mi) north-northwest of Cairns in Queensland, about 120 kilometres (75 mi) east-north-east of Cape Grenville on the Cape York Peninsula. Raine Island is the site of the...

[ read more ]

Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona

Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona

[caption id="attachment_235093" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Casa Amatller and Casa Batlló © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Passeig de Gràcia is one of the major avenues in Barcelona (Catalonia) and one of its most important shopping and business areas, containing several of the city's most celebrated pieces of architecture. It is located in the central part of Eixample, stretching from Plaça Catalunya to Carrer Gran de Gràcia. Passeig de Gràcia is regarded as the most expensive street in Barcelo...

[ read more ]

The Savile Row in London

The Savile Row in London

[caption id="attachment_171364" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Gieves & Hawkes © Gryffindor/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Savile Row is a street in Mayfair, central London. Known principally for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men, the street has had a varied history that has included accommodating the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society at 1 Savile Row, where significant British explorations to Africa and the South Pole were planned; and more recently, the Apple Corps office of the Beatles at 3 Savi...

[ read more ]

Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles

Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles

[caption id="attachment_225020" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Hollywood Walk of Fame © panoramio.com - Mickey Logitmark/cc-by-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Hollywood Boulevard is a major east–west street in Los Angeles, California. It begins in the west as a winding residential street at Sunset Plaza Drive in the Hollywood Hills West district. After crossing Laurel Canyon Boulevard, it proceeds due east as a major thoroughfare through Hollywood, Little Armenia and Thai Town to Vermont Avenue. It then runs southeast to its ...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
Saint Catherine's Monastery in front of Mount Sinai © flickr.com - Joonas Plaan/cc-by-2.0
The Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai

Saint Catherine's Monastery, officially "Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai", lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of...

Zehnder's © AndrewHorne/cc-by-sa-3.0
Frankenmuth in Michigan

Frankenmuth is a city in Saginaw County in Michigan. The population is at 5,000. The city is located within Frankenmuth...

The docks at Bella Coola © flickr.com - Colin/cc-by-2.0
Bella Coola in British Columbia

Bella Coola is a community in the Bella Coola Valley in British Columbia. Bella Coola usually refers to the entire...

Close