The Mayflower Pilgrims Prepare and Start the Voyage to America

True Facts about the Pilgrims

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Sailor Cull

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When the Pilgrims reached Delftshaven, Holland, they found everything was ready for them to go the next morning. The Speedwell was to take them into Southampton, England, where the Mayflower was waiting to receive them. After twelve years of living with their friends and fellow Separatists in Leyden, there was just one night left before they would have to say their final goodbyes. In many cases husbands were leaving behind wives and children. Bradford writes about this very emotional night and the next morning:

"That night was spent with little sleep by the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse and other real expressions of true Christian love...

"The next day (the wind being fair) they went aboard and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to see what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them, what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each heart;

But the tide, which stays for no man, calling them away that were thus loath to depart, their reverend pastor falling down on his knees (and they all with him) with watery cheeks commended them with most fervent prayers to the Lord and His blessing. And then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them."

The Speedwell was soon on its way, and shortly thereafter arrived at Southampton, England, its scheduled destination. They were greeted upon their arrival by John Carver, Robert Cushman, William Brewster and some of the Merchant Adventurers including Thomas Weston.

At the beginning of August, 1620, the Pilgrims were still £100 short of money after having put in nearly £1300. Thomas Weston stubbornly refused to help pay this additional cost, instead choosing to get angry and threatened to cancel the whole deal if they did not come up with the money. To get £100, the Pilgrims were forced to sell off some of their provisions, primarily the excess butter of which Christopher Martin had purchased too much.

The Mayflower had several other passengers on board as well to fulfill specific purposes. Myles Standish was hired to organize and instruct the Pilgrims on the defense of the colony. John Alden was hired to be the Mayflower's cooper. John Clarke and Robert Coppin were two of the Mayflower crew members who had been to the New England region before, and were hired for their knowledge of the coastline.

On August 5, 1620, the Mayflower captained by Christopher Jones and governed by John Carver and the Speedwell captained by Mr. Reynolds and governed by Christopher Martin started on their voyage to America. Shortly after getting underway, however, the Speedwell started leaking badly;

so, Captain Jones and Reynolds got together and decided to come ashore at Dartmouth, England to have the ship mended. This cost the Pilgrims more money, of which they had almost none. It also meant another month of repairs, another month of delay, another month of food supplies, and another month to spend trapped on a ship governed by Christopher Martin.

After the Speedwell was mended of some of its leaks and deemed fit for sailing again, the two ships started on their voyage to America once more. But Captain Reynolds and his crew had other plans...

They had decided they no longer wanted to make the voyage to America, believing the Pilgrim adventure was doomed from the beginning. So they secretly overmasted the sails, causing the ship to again leak badly. The passengers were unable to bail the water out fast enough, and it was forced to turn back once again.

The Pilgrims, seeing that the ship was apparently unfit for travel, were forced to leave it behind. All the goods and supplies were transferred over to the Mayflower. Many of the passengers had now become quite frustrated, and decided they would rather stay behind and not make the trip to America.

All those passengers that wanted to continue were combined together on the Mayflower. More than a month had now passed since the first attempt to make the voyage took place, but finally on September 6, 1620, the Mayflower was ready to depart for good.

About the Author: Linda Cullum is from Cape Cod, MA, with a second home in Vermont. She is the author of "The History of the Pilgrims: In their Own Words" Ebook, co- written with Caleb Johnson, Mayflower descendent and historian, and "Learn to Sail! with Multimedia!" an Interactive Sailing training CDROM which teaches all aspects of Sailing including Knots, Rules of the Road, Weather with digital video from Sail Magazine, narration, animation and quizzes. Visit her websites at http://historyofthepilgrims.com/ and http://learntosail.net

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