Friday, October 8, 2010

Chasing The Half Moon

She was several miles west of me when I first spotted her masts breaking the horizon near Race Rock Lighthouse. With nothing but a thin silhouette to identify her, I knew instantly this was a ship I had not seen before. It was late in the day, with just a few hours left of daylight, but I decided to follow her in hope of getting a better view.

I was only gaining on her by a small amount, and if she continued to sail westward down Long Island Sound, it would be long after dark before I caught up with her. My guess however, was that she would drop anchor in New London for the evening, rather than face the 30 knot winds forecasted for the following morning. But when she passed the entrance to New London Harbor without changing her course, I debated whether to give up and sail home.

Sometime while I was busy arguing with myself over whether or not to continue on, the ship began to head north and enter Niantic Bay. This seemed like an odd destination for a ship of this size, but I was not about to complain.  I fired up the diesel and motored on, fully confident that I would reach her before sundown.
Drawing closer, it became apparent to me that this was the Half Moon, a replica of the Dutch ship sailed by Henry Hudson in 1609. Launched in 1989, she was built at the Snow Shipyard in Albany, and has sailed much of the east coast and Great Lakes.

She dropped anchor in the lee of Black Point, while her crew tended to some rigging work. I circled her several times, making small talk with the crew. I learned she will be in New London this weekend, and there are plans to travel the Connecticut River this month. I joked about how I had been following them for several miles and was so happy to catch up and get a close-up view.

"Happens all the time" one of them shouted back.


Mark Kreider said...

What a beautiful ship! I had no idea that a ship of that length could have such a narrow beam. In the book "Mayflower" she was described to be similar this Half Moon, built high fore and aft which allowed them to be pretty stable in wind and rough seas when not under sail due to circumstance. Apparently the ship itself became like a sail, broad side to the wind, and was able to wallow over the crests and into the troughs successfully. Great photos as always!

Anonymous said...

nice shots, matt! what vessel were you on?

Anonymous said...

Just so happens that my mom lives near Half Moon, New York, named for said vessel.

VT Peter said...

Totally cool! I would have loved to see that ship, and just for a moment imagined myself one of Hudson's crew. Of course, just a moment is all I would have lasted as a sailor in the earl 17th century.