The Mayflower

The Mayflower was an English ship that has become a common part of modern day Americana folklore. The ship was transporting English Puritans, who are known in the modern day as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England, to the ‘New World’, with the ship departing in 1620. In total there were 102 pilgrims on board the ship, with an estimated 30 members of crew, although the exact number was either never recorded or the records have been lost. When the Pilgrims left England they signed the Mayflower Compact with the intention of establishing Plymouth Colony. The colony was designed as a rudimentary form of democracy and was an early precursor to socialism, with each member of the colony supposed to contribute towards the welfare of everyone in the community. There were other ships also named Mayflower that made the journey between London and Plymouth, Massachusetts several times.

The Mayflower was a square rig with a beakhead bow as well as castle-like structures situated on the fore and aft of the vessel in order to protect the ship’s crew and main deck from bad weather at sea. This design was common amongst English merchant vessels during the early 17th century. The design of the ship made it particularly bad at sailing against the wind and unable to sell well against the westerly winds that are prevalent in the North Atlantic. The entire voyage took a little over two months as a result of this. The return voyage was shortened to over half that time, with the strong winds acting in the ship’s favour.

The exact measurements of the ship are unknown as accurate records from that time have not managed to survive through to the modern day, but historians believe that the ship was approximately 30 metres in length and roughly 7.6 meters at the widest point. With the full load of passengers and cargo it is thought that the bottom of the keel would be just under 4 metres below the waterline. The Mayflower was also a heavily armed ship, as piracy was not uncommon at that time. The largest gun on The Mayflower was a minion cannon, weighing in at approximately 550 kg, which could shoot a 1.5 kg cannonball over a kilometer.

HMS Victory

The HMS Victory was a Royal Navy ship that was ordered in 1758 and finally launched in 1765. The ship was a first-rate warship, having 104 guns and designed as a flagship for the admiralty of the day. The ship is perhaps best known for being the flagship of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st of October 1805. After the battle the ship went on to serve as Keppel’s flagship at Ushand, Jervis’ flagship at Cape St Vincent, and Howe’s flagship at Cape Spartel. By this time the ship had served her time and was relagated to the role of harbour ship.

Not completely finished and having played an important role in British naval history, the ship was moved to a dry dock at Pourtsmouth, England, in 1922 where it was preserved as a museum ship. The ship is still technically in service and has been the flagship of the First Sea Lord since October 2012, making it the oldest naval ship in the world to still be in commission, having been in service for 241 years as of 2019.

HMS Victory was one of 12 ships that were ordered by Pitt the Elder as part of his hole as head of the British government. Victory was one of ten first-rate ships that had been comissioned. The architect that was chosen to design the ship was Sir Thomas Slade who was serving as the Surveyor of the Navy at that time. In total, the ship required around 6,000 trees for construction, alongside 150 workmen who were assigned to construct the frame, 90% of which was made from oak, with elm, pine, and fir used when required.