THE MAYFLOWER'S VOYAGE

The golden age of discovery and pioneering

 

 

 

Mayflower painting under sail from Devon, Plymouth

 

 

Contemporary accounts of the Mayflower voyage:

There is only one primary source account in existence that describes events that occurred while the
Mayflower was at sea.  It was written by William Bradford, in his History of Plymouth Plantation. His account of the voyage, in its entirety, follows:

September 6. These troubles being blown over, and now all being compact together in one ship, they put to sea again with a prosperous wind, which continued divers days together, which was some encouragement unto them; yet according to the usual manner many were afflicted with sea sickness. And I may not omit here a special work of God's providence.

There was a proud and very profane young man, one of the sea-men, of a lusty, able body, which made him the more haughty; he would always be condemning the poor people in their sickness, and cursing them daily with grievous execrations, and did not let to tell them, that he hoped to help to cast half of them overboard before they came to their journey's end, and to make merry with what they had; and if he were by any gently reproved, he would curse and swear most bitterly. But it pleased God before they came half seas over, to smite this young man with a grievous disease, of which he died in a desperate manner, and so was himself the first that was thrown overboard. Thus his curses light on his own head; and it was an astonishment to all his fellows, for they noted it to be the just hand of God upon him.

After they had enjoyed fair winds and weather for a season, they were encountered many times with cross winds, and met with many fierce storms, with which the ship was shroudly shaken, and her upper works made very leaky; and one of the main beams in the mid ships was bowed and cracked, which put them in some fear that the ship could not be able to perform the voyage. So some of the chief of the company, perceiving the mariners to fear the sufficiency of the ship, as appeared by their mutterings, they entered into serious consultation with the master and other officers of the ship, to consider in time of the danger; and rather to return then to cast themselves into a desperate and inevitable peril.

And truly there was great distraction and difference of opinion among the mariners themselves; fain would they do what could be done for their wages sake, (being now half the seas over,) and on the other hand they were loath to hazard their lives too desperately. But in examining of all opinions, the master and others affirmed they knew the ship to be strong and firm under water; and for the buckling of the main beam, there was a great iron screw the passengers brought out of Holland, which would raise the beam into his place; the which being done, the carpenter and master affirmed that with a post put under it, set firm in the lower deck, and other-ways bound, he would make it sufficient.

And as for the decks and upper works they would caulk them as well as they could, and though with the working of the ship they would not long keep staunch, yet there would otherwise be no great danger, if they did not overpress her with sails. So they committed themselves to the will of God, and resolved to proceed. In sundry of these storms the winds were so fierce, and the seas so high, as they could not bear a knot of sail, but were forced to hull, for divers days together. And in one of them, as they thus lay at hull, in a mighty storm, a lusty young man (called John Howland) coming upon some occasion above the gratings, was, with a seele of the ship thrown into the sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail halyards, which hung overboard, and ran out at length; yet he held his hold (though he was sundry fathoms under water) till he was hauled up by the same rope to the brim of the water, and then with a boat hook and other means got into the ship again, and his life saved; and though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after, and became a profitable member both in church and commonwealth.

In all this voyage their died but one of the passengers, which was William Butten, a youth, servant to Samuel Fuller, when they drew near the coast. But to omit other things, (that I may be brief,) after long beating at sea they fell with that land which is called Cape Cod; the which being made and certainly known to be it, they were not a little joyful. After some deliberation had amongst themselves and with the master of the ship, they tacked about and resolved to stand for the southward (the wind and weather being fair) to find some place about Hudson's River for their habitation. But after they had sailed that course about half a day, they fell amongst dangerous shoals and roaring breakers, and they were so far entangled therewith as they conceived themselves in great danger; and the wind shrinking upon them withal, they resolved to bear up again for the Cape, and thought themselves happy to get out of those dangers before night overtook them, as by God's providence they did.

And the next day they got into the Cape-harbor where they rid in safety. A word or two by the way of this cape; it was thus first named by Captain Gosnold and his company, Anno. 1602, and after by Captain Smith was called Cape James; but it retains the former name amongst seamen. Also that point which first showed these dangerous shoals unto them, they called Point Care, and Tucker's Terror; but the French and Dutch to this day call it Malabar, by reason of those perilous shoals, and the losses they have suffered there.

Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. And no marvel if they were thus joyful, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on the coast of his own Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remain twenty years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious and dreadful was the same unto him.

Only one other contemporary account of the Mayflower's voyage exists, and though it was not written by a Mayflower passenger, it was written in 1624 by Captain John Smith (the same one rescued by Pocahontas), based on second hand information he had heard, or read in letters sent back to England.  What Smith wrote follows (the spelling has not been modernized in this passage):

Upon these inducements some few well disposed Gentlemen and Merchants of London and other places provided two ships, the one of 160 Tunnes [the Mayflower], the other of 70 [the Speedwell]; they left the coast of England the 23 of August, with about 120 persons: but the next day the lesser ship sprung a leake, that forced their return to Plymouths [England]: where discharging her and 20 passengers, with the great ship and a hundred persons besides sailers, they set saile againe the sixt of September, and the ninth of November fell with Cape James [Cape Cod]; but being pestered nine weeks in this leaking unwholesome ship, lying wet in their cabbins, most of them grew very weak, and weary of the sea.

 

 

 

 

ACIDIFICATION - ADRIATIC - ARCTIC - ATLANTIC - BALTIC - BERING - CARIBBEAN - CORAL - EAST CHINA

ENGLISH CH - GOC - GULF MEXICO - INDIAN - MEDITERRANEAN - NORTH SEA - PACIFIC - PERSIAN GULF - SEA JAPAN

STH CHINA - PLASTIC - PLANKTON - PLASTIC OCEANS - SEA LEVEL RISE - UNEP

MARITIME HISTORY

 

AMISTAD

AUGUSTINE FRESNEL

BEACHY HEAD

BELL TOOT

BLACKBEARD

BREITLING ORBITER

CABLE & WIRELESS

CAPTAIN COOK

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS

CLIPPER SAILING SHIPS

ENZA

FIONA COUNTESS OF ARRAN

FIRST SOLAR PACIFIC NAVIGATION

FIRST SOLAR SOLENT NAV

GREAT EASTERN

GREAT EXPLORERS

HMS BASILISK

 

 

HMS BOUNTY

HMS BEAGLE

HMS ENDURANCE

HMS DISCOVERY

HMS INDEFATIGABLE

HMS RESOLUTION

HMS VICTORY

HMS WARRIOR

HORATIO HORNBLOWER (fic)

HORATIO NELSON

LIGHT HOUSES

LUSITANIA

JOHN HARRISON

JOSHUA SLOCUM

KONTIKI EXPEDITION - RA

LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY

MARY ROSE

 

 

MAYFLOWER VOYAGE - ACCOUNT

MISS NICKEL EAGLE

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE

NEEDLES LIGHTHOUSE

NOAH'S ARK

NOBEL PRIZE

PEARL HARBOUR

PILGRIM FATHERS

SANTA MARIA

SIR FRANCIS DRAKE

SIR WALTER RALEIGH

THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR

THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO

TITANIC

VIKINGS

WATER SPEED RECORDS

WILLIAM BLIGH

 

 

GENERAL HISTORY

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

ADOLF HITLER

ALFRED NOBEL

ANCIENT EGYPT

ANNE FRANK'S DIARIES

AUGUSTUS HARE

AZTECS

BATEMANS - RUDYARD KIPLING

BLUE MAX

BODICEA

CLEOPATRA - PHARAOH of EGYPT

CONCENTRATION CAMPS

D DAY OPERATION NEPTUNE 6th June 1944

DAVID and GOLIATH

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

DINOSAURS

DOMESDAY BOOK

EARLY ELECTRICITY GENERATION

ERNEST SHACKLETON

EUGENICS

FIDEL CASTRO

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE

FRENCH REVOLUTION

GEORGE WASHINGTON

GESTAPO

HEINRICH HIMMLER

HELEN OF TROY

HERSTMONCEUX CASTLE - MEDIEVAL HISTORY

INCAS

IRON CROSS

JOHN F KENNEDY

JOHN STORM

JOHN MCDOUALL STUART

 

 

JULIUS CAESAR

LEBENSBORN

MAHATMA GANDHI

MAMMOTHS

MAYA

MONTGOLFIER BROTHERS

MUMMIES

NED KELLY

PYRAMIDS

QUEEN MARY

QUEEN VICTORIA

RICHARD NIXON

ROALD AMUNDSEN

ROBIN HOOD

ROB ROY MAC GREGOR

SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC

SIR RANULPH FIENNES

STONEHENGE

SWORDS

THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

THE 4th REICH

THE ROMAN EMPIRE

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

THOMAS JEFFERSON

TITANIC SINKING

TUTANKHAMUN

VICTORIA CROSS

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

WILLIAM TELL

WILLIAM WALLACE

WINSTON CHURCHILL

WORLD WAR ONE

WORLD WAR TWO

 

 

 

 

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