Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May Hudson Quadricentennial Countdown

This special monthly feature to The Tidal Zone blog recounts the highlights that led to Henry Hudson’s sail past the tidal marsh of what is now Yonkers’ Beczak Environmental Education Center on September 13, 1609.

“Turn her around”… “He’s a mad man”…“We’ll die here”… the Half Moon crew mutters to each other.

The Half Moon has been at sea for one month and by early May she is within thirty miles of Norway, right on schedule. But the sailors are bitterly cold and scared. The raging snowstorms, whiteouts and menacing icebergs make Dutchmen throw insults at English, who reply with shoves and punches.

But today is different. Perhaps it is the howling wind that unites them against their captain. “Put him out!” they demand together. It’s mutiny, punishable by death.

Backed against the bow of the boat, Hudson offers the crew a choice. They could sail southwest looking for the Indies by way of a sea just north of the English colony in Virginia, or they could search for a more northerly passage via Davis Strait. The sailors choose the warmer route. Hudson calls for the ship to turn back and head across the Atlantic, breaking his contract with the Dutch East India Company.

Two days later, another violent storm, the worst of the voyage, rocks the ship. The crew’s fear returns; Hudson stays in his cabin poring over maps.

Lenore Person
Marketing and Communications Manager