Frequently Asked Questions
IS GODSPEED AN AUTHENTIC
It was a fairly close representation of a 17th century sailing vessel of
that size. I don't believe there is any record of the original
lines of GODSPEED. The current GODSPEED was designed by Duncan
Stewart and built by Carl Pederson and his crew. The keel was
laid May 14,
1982 and the ship christened May 12, 1984.
HOW DID THE SAILS AFFECT THE
All of the sails or courses aboard GODSPEED, except one are
There were 5 total. There are three masts: starting aft, the
mizzen mast, the main mast and the fore mast. All the way
straight out was the bowsprit. The largest sail, being the main
was located on the mainmast. Its driving power was best when close
hauled or with the wind on the beam. Above the main course was the
topsail. Because it was higher up, they held the wind when the
was in a trough. The foremast, carried the fore course. The
fore course was set on all points of sail and was vital for maneuvering
the ship. The mizzen mast was located behind the main. It
carried a triangle shaped sail, called the mizzen course. It was
a balancing or
steering sail. All the way forward, on the bowsprit was the
spritsail. This was good for maneuvering the ship. Its
bottom edge sometimes was in the water. Modern sailboats can sail
almost into the wind. The sails act almost like an airplane wing,
with the wind flowing over the sail creating lift. On square
rigged ships like GODSPEED, you did not get the lift effect. The
best you could do to windward was when the wind was just a little
forward of the beam. But all other points of sail she
behaved beautifully. For this reason, they sailed mostly
following the trade winds. Instead of just heading anywhere you
wanted, or taking the more direct route, you used the prevailing winds
to push you. In our case, we had to sail south before we could
sail north. This is why it would take many months to cross the
Atlantic. To set the courses, you had to have many men, some on
deck handling the lines while others were up on the yards unlacing the
courses. If you had to reduce canvas because of a storm, you
would have to climb up the mast and lace the sail up.
DOES GODSPEED BEHAVE AT SEA?
She and her kind, were the original rock and rollers. With the
wind on the beam, she would really move. If there was any type of
sea, she would rise up and over the swells. This could be a bit
wet. Also heeled over in a steady breeze everything on board was
at an angle. If it wasn't lashed down, it moved. When you
slept, depending on which side you had the wind, you either slept
pressed up against the side of the ship or if the wind was on the other
side, you rolled out. We had a rectangular piece of canvas
called a lee cloth that was held up with rope to the overhead.
This kept you in your bunk. With the wind on the stern, like in
the trade winds if they weren't too strong, GODSPEED would push
along. If the wind was up and there were large seas, she would
roll from side to the other side. Sometimes we actually would start to
surf. You are constantly leaning or moving up or down or holding
on to something, rolling back and forth, but never motionless.
HOW CRAMPED WAS IT?
WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE FOR THE ORIGINAL COLONISTS?
WHAT KIND OF HARDSHIPS DID WE
ENCOUNTER AND HOW WOULD IT DIFFER WITH THE ORIGINAL?
We had a crew of 14 aboard and they had more than 3 times that
amount. Down below it was crowded for us. I don't know what
the layout would have been like for the original GODSPEED, but we had 8
sleeping in the main cabin aft, 2 up forward where the cooking was
done, and 4 guys in the middle section. They could not stand up
by their bunks like the rest of us could. We each had an area by
our bunk to store our cloths, books etc. We carried enough canned
and dry goods to last about 60 days. So it was pretty
crowded. I imagine that it was pretty tight for the original
colonists, and I am sure it smelled very bad.
One of the main difficulties we had was learning to sail a 17th C.
ship. Most of us had 20th century sailing experience but this
was going to be very different. Just on the main course
alone you had about 16 lines used to control the sail, 8 per
side. You had to know what each did and you had to know where it
was. Since we were also sailing at night, you had to be able to
grab the right line during a change of course or reduction of sail
during a storm. If you used a flashlight, it would ruin your
night vision. The original sailors would know the ship and how to
sail it right from the start. We learned as we went. This
is one of the reasons it took 2 weeks to get out of the English
Channel. They also were accustomed to many things that was
foreign to us. If they drank the water, it was teeming with life,
I think they drank ale instead. The food aboard at that time was
poor compared to what we had. Scurvy was common and loss of life
due to it happened on long voyages. Sanitation was unknown,
bathing was out of the question and changing your clothes was unheard
of. I don't think safety was a big issue. That is why they
sometimes had a large crew. You were bound to lose a few along
the way. Missing your family and friends I think would be common
to both. We didn't have refrigeration or hot showers, but you got
used to it. We made up for the lack of fresh food by having a
variety of canned and dried food. We bathed with salt water and
used liquid dish soap to get the salt water to lather. For me, it was
like a long camping trip. Another major hardship was the fact
that we were a 20th C. crew, we had to deal with 20th C. problems, like
a schedule. The original voyagers didn't know about the hurricane
season here, and they didn't really know where they were going, there
wasn't anyone waiting for them at their destination.
SOME OF THE LOW POINTS-
Hoping we didn't get run over in the English Channel. At night it
be very dangerous. We had to be in a certain port for a function
was arranged months beforehand. We did not have an engine and
most modern people forget that when you are truly a sailboat, you
when you arrive. This to me was one of the main problems. We
canceling many ports that would have been visited by the original
GODSPEED. Also most
of the crew only had enough time from jobs for about months.
the delay in Puerto Rico due to hurricane season, it would only be
myself and two others of the original crew of 14 that would step off of
GODSPEED when we finally arrived at Jamestown. We had a couple
seasick for weeks at a time, one from the first crew and one from the
second crew. They had to leave when we got to the next port. We
had one fellow
so worried about his family, that he started to go into
had to leave. Instead of arriving back in Virginia by mid July,
we just barely squeaked in to St. Thomas. This wasn't a low for
me, I was having fun!
SOME OF THE HIGH POINTS-
Having my parents in London for the departure. Meeting Prince
Finally getting out of the English Channel. Watching dolphins
flying fish and our bow wake. Enjoying beautiful sunrises and
sunsets. Seeing the Green Flash. Swimming. Climbing
up in the rigging
and listening to music on your walkman, or chatting with one of crew
mates. To celebrate the halfway mark of the voyage, we ate a
fruit cake made by my mom. Making a landfall. Getting a
message from back home. Because
I was the radio operator, I had the guys post the message they wanted
me to send by the radio shack. When I made my sked with the
Amateur Radio Operators back in Williamsburg, I would send them.
same time, if they had anything for us, Iwould copy it down and deliver
it to the crew. This was a real boost to the morale. About
75% of the messages sent and received was with morse code. The
rest was with a
phone patch, where you could actually talk to the person. This
was all before cell phones, and email. And I am glad of
few years ago, the British sailed the route of Cabot using a replica
they had built. It had engines, cell phones,laptops, and if they
needed something, it was air dropped by the RAF. We were
basically on our own. I'll have to check it but I think we are
one of the few replicas to actually sail out of the English Channel.
Standing watch can be exciting and it can be very tiring and
boring. We had three watches made up of 4 per watch, the cook and
captain didn't stand a watch. I think each watch lasted 4
hours. What you do is spend an hour at the helm steering, then
you spend an hour up forward as a lookout and the rest of the time you
are doing maintenance if it was during the daytime or just hanging out
if it was night. You spend a lot of time looking at the
stars. After your turn at the helm, you would go down below and
make an entry in the ships log. You would note the weather
conditions, your course, average speed. During the night watches
in the English Channel you needed the four guys on watch just to have
the extra set of eyes. But later on it wasn't so important.
If it was raining, you put your foul weather gear on and hoped your
watch would end soon. It night, it was common to send someone
down into the hold to find where the oreos and chocolate bars were
stored. We would be like kids, drinking boxed milk that we had
and eating cookies. Later on in the tropics, we would cook up
popcorn and stargaze. When the sun came up, whoever was on watch
would see all the stuff we spilled! When you were off watch, you
would sleep for a few hours and then get up for meals, hang out, write
in your journal, read, do chores, play games etc. If conditions
got poor, and all hands were needed, you got up and helped out.
You always wanted the bad weather and changing tacks to occur during
the other guys watch.
DID WE FOLLOW THE SAME ROUTE?
Originally that was the plan. We were going to visit each place
that the original GODSPEED stopped at, but at a different time of
year. But we ended up only visiting Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the
Canary Islands, the USVI and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The other
stops in the Bahamas were not visited by the original GODSPEED.
DID OUR TRIP TAKE AS LONG AS THE
If you don't count the delay in Puerto Rico, I think it took about the
same amount of time. We sailed over 6000 miles in a little over 3
DID WE HAVE ANY PASSENGERS?
A QUESTION OR TWO I WILL ASK YOU TO PONDER....
Because of hurricane season, it was decided for safety reasons, the
voyage to Virginia should be postponed. I remained in Puerto Rico
with GODSPEED and the rest of the crew had to go home and back to
work. We did not know when we would continue. Because of
that, a new captain was selected. With 3 of the original voyage
crew, and 8 that the new captain selected, we totaled 12.
When did GODSPEED depart Puerto Rico?
We had a total of 12 aboard when we departed Puerto Rico and only 9
when we arrived at Jamestown.
What happened to the other three?
If you would like the answers, send an email to:
(mycallsign)@netscape.net (my call is wa4chq)
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