Cruising with Osprey

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08 July 2011

Jamestown, VA - the first English Settlement

14 June 2010
OK, so we are not the bravest of sailors but we certainly know how to take advantage of our lay days. We jumped up early this morning and headed straight over to the car rental office. Even without a prior reservation we were on the road by 8.45am, having got a good deal on a daily rental. It took us about 40 minutes to travel up to Jamestown. Having visited Yorktown, the site of the end of Colonial America, it seemed very fitting that we were now at the site of the start of it all.

It's hard to know where to start in describing everything we saw today. We drove onto the Jamestown island and spent most of the day touring this historic site. In 1607, three ships carrying 104 men and boys from England, sailed up the James River (named after King James I) looking for a suitable place to land and build a settlement. They found this island and decided it would be a good place for them to land and settle. It was amazing to stand on the banks of the James River and look across to see the same vista that the early settlers probably viewed. The voyage was financed by the Virginia Company in London and it's main purpose was to generate a profit for the investors. They were hoping to find gold and other riches. As it turned out the original settlers were pretty hopeless and many (over half) died of starvation over the first year. There was an uneasy truce with the local natives, the Powhatan Indians, who probably helped out the original settlers over the first winter by sharing their food. It is likely that the Indian Chief decided to tolerate the settlers as he thought it unlikely that they would survive and make a successful colony. One of the most important English settlers was Captain John Smith who was very good at trading and negotiating with the local Indians. My family will be interested to hear that John Smith came from Alford, Lincolnshire, and that there were several men from Alford in the original party. Even more amazing is that the early dwellings were built in the style of the houses built in Lincolnshire at the time. These were mud and stud with thatched roofs - like many of the cottages still seen in Lincolnshire, England today. Interestingly this style of house lasted in England but soon deteriorated in the local climate of Virginia.


In addition to learning all about the first English Colony at Jamestown, we were amazed to see that there is an active archeological excavation going on here today. It seems that for years it was thought that the site of the original fort and settlement had been lost into the River due to erosion. In fact a reconstructed settlement has been built close by. But, in 1994, archeologist Dr William Kelso decided to look for the original site and acting on intuition found it! We were given a tour by a young woman who has been working on the dig since it started and was obviously passionate about what she did. She told us that they would uncover anywhere from 500 to 2,000 artifacts a day and had recovered over a million pieces to date. They had discovered the outlines of the original fort built when the settlers first landed, as well as the foundations of their mud and stud dwellings. Also uncovered were wells that had been dug for water and then filled with "trash" when the water became foul. This trash comprised discarded items, such as broken pots, old shoes and boots, broken weapons and so on, which of course tell us a lot about life in those early days.

We could have spent many days at this one spot there was so much to see and learn. But, we only had the car for a day so we tore ourselves away from Jamestown and drove over to Colonial Williamsburg for an hour or two. Once again this was an amazing place but sadly we really didn't have enough time to do it justice. As the sun set we arrived back at Osprey, tired and hungry but very satisfied to have been able to see all that we had.
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Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Shannon38 #33
Hailing Port: East Greenwich, RI
Crew: Tom & Vicky Worosz
About: We have cruised to the Bahamas and back twice ad are now back on land for a while. This Summer (2012) we have outfitted ourseleves with motorcycles and are heading off for a month long "land cruise'

Who: Tom & Vicky Worosz
Port: East Greenwich, RI