Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 197: Crow's Nest

Day 197: Crow's Nest, originally uploaded by susanvg.
A trip in to Bonavista where we saw the lighthouse – a style which seems to be unique to Newfoundland. It is right near here that John Cabot is said to have landed on June 24, 1497 and discovered the Grand Banks teeming with fish – this was what lured the British to North America and was essentially the beginning of British North America.

We went to see the replica of his ship (or what they believe his ship looked like). It was built to commemorate 500 years since Cabot's first voyage (he never returned from his second voyage and it is unclear whether he perished at sea or after reaching Newfoundland a second time. The ship is not large and would have had 3 officers and about 20 men. It is difficult to imagine what life would have been like aboard a vessel like this as it heaved over the Atlantic – cramped, cold, uncomfortable with poor food (hard tack, salt fish, salt meat and peas), poor quality water and for the men – a dirt floor to sleep on if they did not sleep out on the decks. The decks themselves, would have been constantly washed with sea water making them cold and slippery. Apparently the voyage to Newfoundland took 30 days; many died en route and with only half the crew remaining, they returned to England in 15 days due to favourable winds. Most of the crew had been taken from jails; they had only the clothes on their backs – no shoes, no coats. They would have scaled the ropes to the crow's nest on the seaside (it was considered safer) to stand watch for four hour intervals.

Interesting to see – and a reminder of how fortunate I am to live with heating, electricity and indoor plumbing.
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  1. Great perspective in the photograph - looking up to the vast sky and out to the immense ocean, Cabot's and his crew must have felt the contradictory feelings of freedom and fear in their journey.

  2. Excellent photo and historical information. Thanks for posting.