Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Great Storm of 1635

Have you ever had a moment that you saw or realized something and you thought “WOW, for the Grace of God, go I”?  One day I was reading about the Angel Gabriel, a 240 ton galleon, in the Great Storm of 1635.  Although I did not find any ancestors on the passenger list, I thought it was truly sad.  These poor people had left everything behind, took their faith in hand, sailed across the ocean and then when they almost get to their destination lose everything but their lives.  Five of the over 100 passengers and crew died that August day at Pemaquid Point.  I felt sad for the sacrifices they made.  But… I read more.

They didn't travel alone

The story went on to say the ship did not sail alone. Leaving from Bristol, England on May 23, 1635 sailing with the Angel Gabriel were the James, Bess, Mary and the Diligence.  The 220 ton James and the Angel Gabriel traveled together as they crossed the Atlantic.  They were heading to New England, the other three ships for Newfoundland. 

Bad Weather

Because of rough seas the small fleet of ships traveled the coast of England to wait out the storms. One month later, they set sail bound for their destinations across the Atlantic. By August 15th, the Angel Gabriel and the James had arrived at the coast of Maine when the storm hit. To ride out the storm, the James stops at the Isles of Shoals looking for a safe harbor. The Angel Gabriel is anchored off Pemaquid Point. At anchor the Angel Gabriel is destroyed. They lost all their cattle and other provisions and 5 passengers perish in the storm. The James at the Shoals, barely survived. As they drop their three anchors the powerful winds snapped the cables almost immediately. Although it may not have seemed like it a the time, this might have saved the ship and their lives. With nothing to hold them, they tried to outrun the storm. They headed towards the rocky coast and the Piscataqua. BUT as suddenly as a blink of the eye, the storm changed course.

Calmer Skies

The James barely escaped the deadly rocks they were heading for! The next day, August 16, under calmer skies the James sailed south, passing Cape Anne, Salem and Marblehead to anchor at Nantasket. By August 17th, the James, with rags for sails limped into Boston Harbor with all the 100 passengers and 23 crew members (and their cattle) intact! It took them 12 weeks and 2 days to get there, but they got there!  

Information gleaned from:

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