On this day in 1620 those who’d survived the perilous voyage across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower set their eyes on America for the first time. It was late morning and the sun had risen behind the Mayflower and Captain Jones believed the land ahead was the ‘forearm’ of Cape Cod. Slowly the landscape of sand with tree covered hills came nearer. The intended site for the journey was the mouth of the Hudson River, which they were well north of. The passengers had been granted land in this area which was a further 220 miles away.
Captain Jones had to make a decision – either continue south to the Hudson or head northwards into the bay of Cape Cod and to what is now known as Provincetown. The first option depended on a north wind and would take several days, the second option would only take a few hours and required a southerly wind. The occurrence of northerly wind helped him with the decision and so the Mayflower went south and into poorly chartered waters. The threat of grounding the ship was high, so the leadsman constantly dropped the lead to measure the depth of the seabed.
After 1pm the tide and wind became less favourable and the Mayflower found herself in the Pollark Rip, an ever-changing maze of shoals and sandbars. Fortunately, the wind and tide changed and towards late afternoon the Mayflower was sufficiently away from the dangers of the Rip. With the change in the wind, they were now being pushed northwards and heading away from the mouth of the Hudson; Captain Jones decided to make for the protection of Cape Cod Bay.
The change in destination caused tension between the two groups of passengers, The Pilgrims and The Strangers, with the prospect of the new settlement being on land that they did not have permission to occupy. The solution will be the subject of our next blog.
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