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The Voyage of the  Mayflower & Speedwell

The Leiden Separatists bought a small ship, the Speedwell, in Holland. They embarked from Delftshaven on July 22, 1620.
They sailed to Southampton, England to meet the Mayflower, which had been chartered by their English investors. There, other Separatists and additional colonists joined them.

On August 15, the Mayflower and Speedwell set sail for America. The Speedwell leaked so badly that both ships turned back to England, putting in first at Dartmouth and then at Plymouth. Finally, on September 16, 1620, the Mayflower set sail, alone, for America.

Detail from: Mayflower & Speedwell in Dartmouth Harbor by Wilcox

"The dangers were great, but not desperate; the difficulties were many, but not invincible... their ends were good & honorable... and therefore they might expect the blessing of God."

- William Bradford

The Mayflower was a sizable cargo ship, around 100 feet in length. She had served many years in the wine trade. With the crowding of 102 passengers plus crew, each family was allotted very little space.

The Mayflower at Sea by Margeson

"Now all being compact together in one ship, they put to sea again with a prosperous wind."

- William Bradford

The 66-day voyage was frequently stormy. At one point, a main beam cracked and had to be repaired using a large iron screw. When the passengers sighted Cape Cod, they realized that they had failed to reach Virginia, where they had permission to settle. The season was late, however, and supplies of food and water were low. They could go no further.

The Pilgrims safe arrival at Cape Cod aboard the Mayflower:

"Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye periles & miseries therof, againe to set their feete on ye firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus joyefull, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on ye coast of his owne Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remaine twentie years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious & dreadfull was ye same unto him.
But hear I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amased at this poore peoples presente condition; and so I thinke will the reader too, when he well considered ye same. Being thus passed ye vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembred by yt which wente before), they had now no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure. ..
Let it also be considred what weake hopes of supply & succoure they left behinde them, yt might bear up their minds in this sade condition and trialls they were under; and they could not but be very smale. It is true, indeed, ye affections & love of their brethren at Leyden was cordiall & entire towards them, but they had litle power to help them, or them selves; and how ye case stode betweene them & ye marchants at their coming away, hath already been declared. What could not sustaine them but ye spirite of God & his grace? May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie…”

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation

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