Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Two Ships from Southampton

On August 5, 1620 two ships set sail from Southampton, England -- destination America, the New World. Many of the "The Pilgrims" had been living in Leiden, in the Netherlands and hired the Speedwell to bring them to Southampton. There they met the Mayflower, a ship that had been hired in London. This ship was about 80 feet long on deck, and 100–110 feet long overall. There were several false starts on the voyage, due to the Speedwell leaking and needing repair. After docking twice, finally at Plymouth, England, they decided to leave the un-seaworthy Speedwell behind.  The Mayflower probably had about 65 passengers in the beginning, but after the Speedwell's unfortunate demise, they stuffed 102 passengers and about 30 crewmen abroad. The Mayflower left for America alone, departing on September 6. At this time the Pilgrims had left England, they had already been living on board the two ships for almost a month and a half. From that time the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean took 66 days till they sighted Cape Cod (Massachusetts, well north of their intended landing) on November 9th. The difficulties of the voyage included mostly sea-sickness in the beginning. Later they encountered many very treacherous storms. There were two deaths on the journey.

Nearly 300 years later, April 10, 1912, the remarkable, massive and "unsinkable" RMS Titanic set out on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. The ship was over 882 feet long. Her maximum breadth was a little over 92 feet and her total height was 104 feet. She was the largest ship afloat at the time. On this maiden voyage the ship included about 885 crew members and carried over 1300 passengers -- about 1/3 of her capacity. Five days out to sea -- early a.m. April 15, 1912 -- she collided with an iceberg and sank into the North Atlantic Ocean. Over 1500 met their fate in those icy waters, and some survivors died afterwards. The unsinkable ship that sank remains one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

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