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Thanksgiving is upon us and while hapless turkeys around the country are making their way into ovens, the smart turkeys are staying well hidden. How is this relevant to sailing? Well turkeys themselves aren't actually relevant, but there is some connection between sailing and Thanksgiving.
The Pilgrims, with who we are told the Thanksgiving tradition began, found their way to America's shores by boat. And what kind of boat would that be? A sailboat of course. This makes Pilgrims the coolest people ever, people who many of us can be proud to call our ancestors.
Prior to its voyage to the New World, the Mayflower was a European cargo ship which is reported to have spent some of her former life sailing between France and Spain with her holds full of wine, cognac and vinegar. According to HistoryofMassachusetts.org the Mayflower was a square-rigged and beak bowed vessel which measured around 100 hundred feet in length, and was and rated at 180 tons - this figure was not her own tare weight, but meant that she was capable of carrying 180 casks or turns of wine (they kept all the important things in mind back then).
Model of Mayflower ship at Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth, Mass, circa 1905. - Photo courtesy of Historyofmassachusetts.org.
Looks a bit squashy in there...
Fortunately for us, sailboats have come a long way since the 1600s when the Mayflower eventually sailed across the Atlantic with her captain Christopher Jones, 37 crew, and 102 passengers. Today hundreds of sailors cross the Atlantic annually, and with the right boat can do so in just a couple of weeks. Of course the conditions may still be cramped, damp and chilly, but today's sailors are able to draw on the several centuries worth of experience of the pioneers who made the voyage in comparatively, cumbersome and rudimentary vessels; vessels which in their day were no doubt seen as the finest of their time but today are looked upon with a mix of awe, excitement and for some of us, fear. (Personally I would much rather cross the Atlantic in a smaller, modern, fiberglass boat with all the latest in electronics and equipment, than a big heavy wooden ship filled with scores of people and tonnes of cargo.)
But back to the Pilgrims, this Thanksgiving while we're enjoying the company of our family and friends, and feasting on our turkey, corn and pie, let's all take a moment to give thanks to those intrepid captains, deckhands, cabinboys and passengers who were brave enough to journey across the seas in those spectacular old ships and pave the way for today's sailors who carry their spirit each time we venture away from the docks.
Hundreds of boats will cross the Atlantic in 2019. Will yours be one of them? How will you sail next summer?
Sign up for Summer Sailstice 2019 and share your journey with the global sailing community - We all love a good sailing adventure!