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Mayflower, Day by Day - Tuesday, 22 December 1620

22 Dec 2020 3:21 AM | Soule (Administrator)

 At anchor in harbour 

Exploration party still absent.

“This harbour is a bay greater than Cape Cod, compassed with a goodly land, and in the bay, two fine islands uninhabited, wherein are nothing but wood, oaks, pines, walnuts, beech, sassafras, vines, and other trees which we know not. This bay is a most hopeful place, innumerable store of fowl, and excellent good, and cannot but be of fish in their season; skote, cod, turbot, and herring, we have tasted of, abundance of mussels the greatest and best that ever we saw; crabs and lobsters, in their time infinite. It is in fashion like a sickle or fish-hook.” Plymouth is unique to the South Shore as from its hills, one can gaze across almost the entire inner coast of Cape Cod -- from Sandwich to Provincetown.  Much of the harbour, as large as it was, was too shallow for ships as large as the Mayflower: this ship drew twelve feet of water, and that meant that it would have to anchor about a mile from the shore, making the transfer of cargo and personnel slow and laborious.  The harbour also did not connect to a navigable river to permit transportation or exploration into the interior.  There were no native settlements nearby, but it was certainly possible that an attack could be launched with little or no warning, as was done the previous week at First Encounter Beach.  Many of the passengers (and some of the crew) were ill, and although the exploratory party did not yet know that four had died in their absence, they certainly must have known that they were very much living on borrowed time, and they must establish a settlement quickly, as they were in what Bradford called “the heart of winter.”  They had been exploring for a full month, time was running out, and it was unlikely that any other, better option would appear soon.  So the party returned to the Mayflower to report back.

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