Sunday, November 8, 2009

Half Moon Ship's Visiting

Our latest Quadricentennial excitement involved taking a tour of the New Netherland Museum's replica of Henry Hudson's Half Moon or Haelve Maen while she was berthed at Yonkers Pier. Below are some photos and a transcription of my notes from the tour. If you have a chance to visit Half Moon, take it! You will learn a lot.

The Half Moon was a three masted square rigged Dutch yacht. Yacht means fast. Hudson's April 1609 voyage was her first. Her flags: XXX represents the City of Amsterdam. A VOC represents the Dutch East India Company, out of Amsterdam. This flag is their corporate logo. The lion flag is the flag of the Netherlands-- the land looks like a lion shape.

Hudson had made earlier trips for the English Muscovy Company, looking for a North East passage to the orient. When that company went out of business, he was introduced to the VOC and was given command of the Half Moon to try again to find a North East passage. But Hudson disobeyed orders and sailed west instead. Half Moon sailed in late April, arrived in NY in early September, spent a month exploring the river until it became clear that it was not a passage to the orient, left for Europe in early October and arrived in England early November 1609.

In 1610, Hudson was given command of the Discovery for his next voyage, and sailed up to what is now Hudson's Bay. His crew did not want to be stuck overwintering and mutinied, setting Hudson, his young son and a few loyal crewman adrift, fate unknown. (In 1618, Haelve Maen was sent to Sumatra for the spice trade. She later wrecked at Mauritius.)

Standing on the pier , looking up at the baskets/tops-- in the British Navy, they are called crows nests because they would release birds-- if the birds came back, you were not near land. If they did not return, you knew there must be land nearby. (Tops in the British Navy are open flat fighting platforms about the top of the main section of the mast used by Marines to shoot muskets down on the deck of opposing ships during an engagement)

Forecastle / fo'c'sle-- There are two "castles" on this ship, so called because they are square built with crenellated rail for archers and crossbowmen. The galley was in the fo'c'sle, with fire pit, brick fireplace and chimney. Cooking was done here. They usually had a pot of stew going. They ate only dried, salted and pickled foods, such as salted beef, pork, hardtack, dried & salted fish, and veggies that lasted longest- carrots, onions, etc. They didn't have beans (those were Native American), but they might have had lentils.

Forward was an area called the Beak. ­In the beak were platforms called the Head, which were the open air communal toilet. No paper-- they used a "rope of appropriate size" to clean themselves. (Mikro shrieks "EEEEEEEEEWWWWWWW!!!")

We go below to the orlop deck-- the name comes from Dutch word Overlopper (phonetic)-- which means to walk over-- in this case, over the cargo hold below.

Haelve Maen had 6 guns: 4 broadside, and 2 stern chasers. They were "falconet" cannon-- too light to sink a ship-- they would aim at the rigging to disable an enemy. Hudson demanded 10 guns, but was denied. They also had a ‘Murderer’, a small breech-loading swivel gun, which was mounted with a “U”-shaped swivel on a spike. It was carried to the rail or aloft and mounted on the wood before firing. It could be aimed up, down, left or right. It was filled with metal junk to fire. They also had matchlock muskets aboard-- late Elizabethan period to 1730s or 40s, when flintlocks replaced them. Match refers to a burning rope clipped on which would ignite powder in the pan.

15 crewmen lived here and slept here on the orlop (and on Discovery Cruises, students sleep here today). They had 2 sets of clothes per man, a sea chest, a hammock (earlier Spanish and Portuguese explorers learned of hammocks from the Indians and brought them back). Around 1730s, hammocks were incorporated by the European navies. Kids went to sea at age 10, especially if orphaned. They were apprenticed till their late teens. The average life span back then was 35.

Tiller-- had a "whip staff extension" which pivots on this ship-- to turn left, steer left-- a change from the usual practice. No ships wheels yet. Tiller could be lashed just like a wheel system.

Capstan- mechanical winch for raising heavy weights, such as the anchor. Fitted with capstan bars to turn it, here and on deck above. Only machine aboard. Turned by eight sailors per deck.

The Lenape lived on this part of the river, and the Mohegan were further up. This is well before Iroquois Confederacy (round 1750). Stone tools, fish traps, beaver pelts (Indians regarded beaver as cheap, junky fur, and were eager to trade for wampum (which came from elsewhere-- long island), and Dutch thought wampum was cheap and a good trade. 6 foot length of wampum traded for a beaver pelt.)

Juan Rodriguez "The Moor"-- first European (a black man) to over winter in NY and try to get the beaver trade going. This was before Dutch started trying to settle here.

Back up on deck, moving aft. This is the main deck. In the compartment under the bell and hourglass is the whip staff for the tiller.

The Hudson River was then called River that Flows Both Ways by the Lenape, North River by the Dutch, and Rivier des Montagnes by the French.

Further aft is the Great Cabin where the captain would eat. His quarters were below the poop deck.

The ship sailed with extra wood, ropes and canvas so she could make repairs at sea.

8 bells in a watch. 6 am- 1 bell, 630 - 2 bells, 7 was three bells, etc. Sailors used a Traverse Board to record direction and speed. (Pegs on rope fitted into slots). Deck officer would record the markings on the traverse board and use them to figure longitude.

To figure latitude, they could use a cross staff-- line up vein with horizon and sun to get latitude. Often caused eye damage from staring into the sun.

Later used quadrant and astrolabe (Arabic origins) to figure latitude. Used the Nocturne- a mechanical calculator like a slide rule with marks for months, days, hours, set for day and line up with Ursa major, Ursa minor and Polaris to get a reading for midnight to reset hour glass accurately.

Chip log-- was thrown overboard and they let rope run out for 20 seconds, then hauled it in and counted the knots tied in the rope to figure speed. This is the basis of the term "knots" for nautical mph. Only invented 90 years before Hudson's voyage.

Sounding line/ lead line-- flagged at 6 foot (fathom) intervals and could also use it to tell what the sea bottom was like by pouring tallow into the hollow on the bottom of the lead (metal).

Only one paragraph of HH's original log exists-- it was recycled. However, there is probably a copy somewhere in the bowels of the Admiralty in GB, because the ship was arrested and the crew tried for treason on their return, and the British must have made and kept copies of everything.

Huge thanks to our amazing guide, Kipp Van Aken, Half Moon's Chief Engineer, for an informative and memorable tour.

1 comment:

Carol said...

I'll bet the kids enjoyed the trip..I did..thanks for sharing. We spend a lot of time aboard a very small trawler. Kids from the "techi" age must find it hard to believe how things were done then. We have a '27 Model day while in town a couple of 20 yr olds were looking at almost got hysterical...he couldn't stop laughing, when Jim showed him the windshield wiper worked by hand.