Following is an essay on the voyage of the Mayflower from Austin Ramsey, the seventh-grade winner.


It seems like yesterday that I made the journey of a lifetime. It was a long time ago, and I an old man, now, not the young man who hired on as part of the crew on the ship, Mayflower.


Resting by the fire on this cold, wet night and smelling all the good food smells coming from the kitchen, I opened my old journal to the first of my writings about that adventure. I enjoy reading all about the Mayflower. It was a fine ship. It was eighty feet long, twenty-four feet wide, with three masts, six sails and miles of rope-rigging. It could carry one hundred eighty tons of cargo. Usually, the Mayflower had a cargo of wine and dry goods, but it would be carrying passengers for this voyages. It was in September of 1620. It was very late in the year to start a voyage because it was in the stormy season. There were a total of one hundred two people on board; all were hoping to start a new life on the other side of the Atlantic.


Many of these started out on the Speedwell, another merchant ship that planned to travel with the Mayflower. It started to leak not long into the trip, and both ships returned to shore. They all loaded into the Mayflower, and along with about thirty crew members, finally got on their way. These people were bringing such a variety of belongings on board. I guess they knew they might need it in the new world; they had to take it with them. Of course, they were bringing food that would stay good during the trip. I saw smoked ham, fish, salted beef, dried sausage, chicken and live chickens and pigs. There was cheese, butter, picked vegetables and jellies and oatmeal. They had been preparing for a long time to get food ready for the trip and had collected as much fresh fruit and other foods, hoping they would eat good meals and stay healthy until they were once again on land and able to start growing their own food again. Seeds were a treasure to be taken to the new land. They must have saved all their seeds a long time, hoping they would produce food in this unknown land.


A lot of tools for farm work had to be brought on board, and it was a lot of work for whoever would help. It was all necessary, from the blacksmith’s anvil to plows to furrow land for seeds. They had to have hammers and nails, buckets to carry water, saws for cutting trees to build cabins and barns, along with shovels, hoes, and rakes. Everything. Heavy clothes were brought and clothes for the summer. Materials for sewing like needles and thread, spinning wheels, knitting needles for repairing wool socks, gloves, bed rugs, and shoes all seem like small items, but they were just as necessary for their survival.


One of the reasons the Mayflower was chosen was because of all the space it has for supplies. The passengers had to live between the decks and hung sheets for privacy from other families. They slept wherever possible, mostly on the floor or in hammocks they made. Everybody was celebrating and happy when we sailed out to sea. It did not take long before we ran into the first of many storms. One of the main structural beams on the ship was fractured during one terrible storm and had to be repaired by a jack screw that they had planned to use to build houses in the new settlement. Many of the passengers were overcome with sea sickness and were sick for a lot of the voyage. The sickness, no available baths, and the ship has these people living in horrible conditions. The stench was bad. Chamber pots used by the passengers could not be emptied over the side of the ship with wind and waves. One many was lost over-board when the waves were washing over the deck. There was also one baby born on the journey. The Mayflower finally reached shore, even if it was in a slightly different place than where they should have been. They landed between dangerous rocks and shoals. The passengers all thanked God for bringing them safely to a new, beautiful land where they would be able to worship Him without any interference from others. The voyage for all of us on board was a hard one. Manning sails and rudders in the stormy seas was almost an unbearable job. Our safety depended on how well we reacted to the storms. Sitting here, warm and cozy, I still thank God for His hand on the Mayflower and for taking care of me, the rest of the crew, and the Pilgrims who took that dangerous journey.