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Old 26-11-2015, 12:48   #1
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Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

All of the sources I see show the Mayflower taking the rhumb line from Plymouth.

But the Mayflower was a tub and a half -- I'm almost sure she could not make meaningful progress upwind, and that course is against the prevailing winds (not to mention the Gulf Stream).

So was that really the route?

Does anyone know? Is it indeed known at all?

I'm just curious on this Thanksgiving day.


My 7th (or something) great grandfather was the navigator of the Mayflower, John Clarke, if family lore is not nonsense (which it well could be).
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Old 26-11-2015, 13:45   #2
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

Interesting question.

The Norse had been going to Iceland and then Greenland from about 980. They only stopped going to Greenland in the late 1300's.

The Basque had relatively large whaling stations in Labrador shortly after 1492, if not before.

So there is a good chance they knew more than we give them credit for.
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Old 26-11-2015, 13:46   #3
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

Hi Dock, I'm have no idea of her route, but those Dutch flutes were surprisingly good to windward, and smart sailers overall. I've sailed on the 1600 pollacre rigged Duyfken, and also the Batavia, and both were much better than you'd have any right to expect.

With duyfken we sailed up the NSW coast against the EAC and a 20-25 kn northerly and we tacked through about 130 at about 7 knots without a colossal amount of leeway, due to the way the Dutch had decent keels. This is much better than a few modern square riggers I've sailed on, eg Soren Larsen tacked through about 155 at about 8.5 knots in good conditions.

The reasons for this are complex, but the hull shapes are good underwater, with lots of beam and a decent keel. The soft rope rig and truss tackles allows very tight bracing angles and the bowlines on the luff of the squares also allows much better pointing. The big topsails can be quickly reefed by easing the halyard and allowing the sail to bag out, with the bowlines stopping the luff collapsing. The big high poop deck is very lightly built and tapers to reduce windage when the vessel heels. Probably proportionally less windage than you average cruising yacht with all the dodgers, davits and targa bars aft.

The more I have sailed old ships the more respect I have for the intelligence of the old timers. So the route they took was probably a smart one.
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Old 26-11-2015, 14:53   #4
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

They did have trouble closing on the shore...if memory serves..they tried to make land for several weeks but conditions kept them off shore. Plymouth was not their intended destination.
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Old 26-11-2015, 15:12   #5
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

I thought the passengers thought Virginia was the destination whereas the captain had other plans.
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Old 26-11-2015, 16:50   #6
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
. . .



The more I have sailed old ships the more respect I have for the intelligence of the old timers. So the route they took was probably a smart one.
Yes, but which was it??!!

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Old 26-11-2015, 17:04   #7
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

I would suggest reading Nathanial Philbrics book " Mayflower". He did a lot of research at the archives in DC. The read will also inlighten you to what really happened. Not what we learned in grammer school.
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Old 26-11-2015, 17:18   #8
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

DH, I would also suggest also that you find out who your ancestors are through Ancestry.com. I have, and it has been very interesting looking at their roles in Colonial New England...
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Old 26-11-2015, 17:58   #9
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

There was a program on the TV about the Pilgrims the other night that I was sorta paying attention too from time to time.

The program did not have any information on the route they took just that the ship was overloaded and that they landed in Cape Code instead of what is now VA. They tried to head sough but with no charts they ran into shallows with breaking seas so they turned back north to land again.

They found small mounds that could be either bodies or food caches. They found both. What was interesting is that one grave mound had a child and an adult. The adult had blond hair so must have been from Europe. Course Squanto had been kidnapped years before and eventually was able to return home where he found his people gone. When the Pilgrims showed up he helped them survive.

Later,
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Old 26-11-2015, 18:22   #10
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

Great post DH!

This is highly interesting stuff!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
targa bars aft.
Snowpetrel... fantastic and informative post... PLUS... I like your "targa bars" for arches term!
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Old 26-11-2015, 19:04   #11
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

Don't know much about the design of those old ships but the Gulfstream situation is kind of tricky as it had a very wide variation in its routes, temps, etc. over the centuries. The vikings stopped going to Greenland in the 1300s because a Little Ice Age ensued and made that trip very dangerous for most of the year as well as dwindling local population made trade with them unprofitable. Same reason for the demise of the viking Greenlanders as initially in early 1000s they encountered a much warmer setting there than 300 years later, even keeping cows and goats there for a few hundred years. Same is said for Leif Erikson trip to "Vinland" - that L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, the place where his camp is now though to be located, was as warm as Cape Cod is today, if not warmer. So much for "global warming".

I recall reading in more than one book that the original settlers kept bumping into "white" Indians and English understanding natives due to the fact that there were many prior newcomers from Europe but their trips were often "one way" affairs thus not getting the press they deserved back home. Is it possible that some of the higher up Pilgrims knew or heard of those and had a limited understanding of what awaits them?
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Old 27-11-2015, 06:32   #12
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Jrafford.


Their destination had been Northern Virginia which, at that time, included the Hudson River (in today's New York State). Attempting to sail south, to reach the mouth of the Hudson River, the group was forced to turn back to Cape Cod. The weather was just too bad to keep sailing.

Thus it was that this group of colonists ended-up anchoring in what is now called Provincetown Harbor (in today's Massachusetts).

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...zAjmLHQQ&hl=en

Mayflower Related Maps | Articles | History
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Old 28-11-2015, 09:33   #13
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Jrafford.


Their destination had been Northern Virginia which, at that time, included the Hudson River (in today's New York State). Attempting to sail south, to reach the mouth of the Hudson River, the group was forced to turn back to Cape Cod. The weather was just too bad to keep sailing.

Thus it was that this group of colonists ended-up anchoring in what is now called Provincetown Harbor (in today's Massachusetts).

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...zAjmLHQQ&hl=en

Mayflower Related Maps | Articles | History
Thanks. Gord. But the question is did they really go N of the Azores High, against the prevailing winds, as depicted in various maps? Note that the replica, Mayflower II, went South, on her 1957 voyage.

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Old 28-11-2015, 09:58   #14
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

It's an interesting question. So I searched the for navigating principles in the 17th century. It does appear that sailing by rhum line was the most common.

Navigation of the American Explorers - 15th to 17th Centuries | Penobscot Bay History Online
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Old 28-11-2015, 11:13   #15
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Re: Voyage of the Mayflower, 1620 -- Routing?

Sometime this week or last, there was a TV program about the Mayflower voyage depicting that the passengers thought that Virginia was the destination whereas the captain was sailing for New England. It had to do with economic incentive for the sponsoring organization to get settlers into New England rather than Va. The movie was either on the History Channel or TCM. Probably TCM. This was contrary to what we read on the internet.
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