1588, a ship named Mayflower of 200 tons, commanded by
one Edward Banks, took part in chasing the Spanish
Armada up the Channel. She was commissioned and financed
on that occasion by the City of London. One of her
owners, John Vassall, of Stepney, moved in 1591 to
Leigh-on-Sea, near Southend at the mouth of the Thames.
A Mayflower of Leigh appears in the London port books of
1606, taking on a cargo of cloth for Middelburg in
Holland; her master was Robert Bonner of Leigh. A year
later, Robert Bonner was listed as master of the
Mayflower of London, unloading a cargo of wine from
Bordeaux. In 1608 Bonner was listed as master of the
Josian, whose master in 1606 and 1607 was Christopher
Jones. In 1609 Jones appeared as master and quarter
owner of the Mayflower of London.
From then on, this Mayflower sailed fairly regularly
to the French ports of La Rochelle and Bordeaux,
carrying cloth, hose, and rabbit skins, and bringing
back wine and brandy. In 1609 she brought furs from
Norway, and twice in 1614 she fetched home silks from
Hamburg. On Tuesday, May 23, 1620, she docked in the
Port of London from La Rochelle, the second voyage to
France that year. Something more than two weeks later,
Weston chartered her for the crossing to New England.
The ship on which Weston and Cushman, the English
agents of the Pilgrims, had taken an option over the
weekend of June 10-12, 1620, was considerably smaller.
Available records indicate that by 1624 the Mayflower
of Pilgrim fame had three joint owners, Robert Child,
John Moore, and Mrs. Josian Jones, widow of the captain.
These three applied in that year to the Admiralty for an
appraisal. It was carried out by four mariners and
shipwrights of Rotherhithe, who valued the vessel at the
unpretentious total of one hundred and twenty-eight
pounds, eight shillings, and fourpence. One eminent
historical researcher, Dr. Rendel Harris, was so
convinced that that figure was preposterously low that
he wrote in 1920 that it must have represented only the
Some historians suggest the Mayflower was broken up
after the 1624 appraisal.
But looking further into historical records unearths
the will of one Robert Sheffield of Stepney, dated
September 10, 1625, in which his share of a ship named
Mayflower was bequeathed to his wife Joan or Josian.
Some think the legatee was the widow of Captain Jones.
If it was, she had married three times and went on to
make it four, for Robert Sheffield's widow married Simon
Jefferson of Blackfriars in 1630, and thereafter
Sheffield's other heirs commenced a lawsuit against
Jefferson in 1636 concerning "the Mayflower and other
Confusing things further is the fact that in 1621
Captain Richard Swan sailed in the Hart to the Arabian
coast, a voyage listed in the marine records of the East
India Company. Swan joined a fleet which set out from
the port of Surat in the Punjab on April 6. The fleet,
heading for the Persian Gulf, captured on May 1 a
two-hundred-ton Portuguese vessel, the San Antonio,
bound for Goa with a cargo of rice. This prize was
renamed Mayflower. She sailed so badly (Swan called her
"that leeward cart") that she delayed the fleet, but on
June 7 four ships, London, Andrews, Primrose, and
Mayflower, anchored beyond Ras-al-Hadd, referred to by
the English as Cape Rosalgate. Here they enjoyed "all
sorts of refreshments" until a guerrilla force of
"certain Portingals" arrived to defend the port and
drive the English out. The English counter-attacked,
defeated the Portuguese, and "for their dishonesty
burned the town and spoiled many of their date trees."
Then the fleet went on to the Persian Gulf where the
newly named Mayflower, which had been leaking badly, was
broken up for firewood. The account of the whole affair
was written by Richard Jefferies on October 5, 1621.
For us today, it is clear that the ill-fated San
Antonio had not the remotest connection with the
Mayflower of Plymouth fame. But what has really muddled
historians is the Mayflower of 1629 and 1630. Thomas
Prence wrote in his journal in August 1629: "Thirty-five
of our friends with their families arrived at Plymouth.
They shipped at London in May, with the ships that came
to Salem, which brings over many pious persons to begin
the churches there. So that their being long kept back
is now accomplished by Heaven with a double blessing....
The charge is reckoned on the several families, some
fifty pounds, some forty, some thirty, as their numbers
and expenses were, which our undertakers pay for gratis,
besides giving them houses, preparing them grounds to
plant on, and maintain them with corn, etc., above
thirteen or fourteen months, before they have a harvest
of their own production."
James Sherley sent a letter with the new arrivals,
dated March 25, 1629, which said in part: "Here are now
many of yours and our friends from Leyden, coming over
who though for the most part be but a weak company, yet
herein is a good part of that end ordained, which was
aimed at, and which hath been so strongly opposed, by
some of our former Adventurers. But God hath His working
in these things, which man cannot frustrate. With them
we have also sent some servants in the ship called the
Talbot that went hence lately; but these come in the
And Captain John Smith wrote under the date 1629: "In
this year a great company of people of good rank, zeal,
means, and quality, have made a great stock, and with
six good ships in the months of April and May they set
sail from Thames for the Bay of Massachusetts, otherwise
called Charles River; viz. the George Bonaventure of
twenty pieces of ordnance, the Talbot nineteen, the
Lions Whelp eight, the Mayflower fourteen, the Four
Sisters fourteen, the Pilgrim four, with three hundred
and fifty men, women and children."
The master of the Mayflower was William Peirce. Roger
Harman commanded the Four Sisters and William Wobridge
the Pilgrim. (note the use of "Pilgrim" as a ship's
In 1630 the Mayflower sailed from Southampton with
the Whale. She was listed as "Mayflower of Yarmouth."
William Peirce was by then master of the Lion.
A Mayflower of Yarmouth, tonnage between 240 and 250,
owner Thomas Howarth, is registered as sailing under
letters of marque to the fishing grounds off Greenland
on July 23, 1626, October 3, 1627, and June 29, 1631.
Then there is the Mayflower commanded by Thomas
Webber of Boston, the ship that brought an order of
canvas to America from England in 1654 for one John
Eliot. This Mayflower is described as being about two
hundred tons , and when she was riding at anchor in
Boston Harbor on October 6, 1652, Webber sold one
sixteenth of her "for good and valuable considerations"
to one John Pinchon of Springfield, Massachusetts. Next
day he sold another sixteenth to Theodore Atkinson, a
Boston felt maker, "as well as of said ship as of all
and singular her masts, sails, sailyards, etc."
A British scholar, Sir Edwin Arnold, speaking in 1889
at Harvard on the subject of Sanskrit studies, told his
audience about a Mayflower that had been sunk off the
coast of Coromandel in 1659. He mentioned Masulipatam
and Malabar. This Mayflower, he said, was 240 tons
burden, carried twenty-four guns and a crew of
fifty-five, and had sailed to Coromandel with the Eagle
and the Endymion in 1655. The three ships had arranged
to rendezvous at St. Helena on the way home if they
happened to get separated at sea. This Mayflower had
arrived at Plymouth, Devon, on August 26, 1657, and had
set out for Coromandel again on February 22, 1658, with
a cargo of bullion worth £7500. She had sunk the
following year, apparently in shallow water, for the
wreck passed into the hands of an Indian broker in Surat
on February 16, 1660, and he managed to repair the
vessel sufficiently to use her afterward for local
trading, though she was never again capable of
navigating the open sea.
Dr. Rendel Harris patiently worked out the comings
and goings of every Mayflower recorded in the English
port books for the first two thirds of the seventeenth
century. What he found out includes specific information
about Christopher Jones's (and the Pilgrim's) Mayflower.
On January 28, 1620, Jones brought the Mayflower in
to London and landed a cargo of 113 1/4 tons of French
wine in eight lots, the biggest 30 1/4 tons, the
smallest 8 tons. During the next three days Jones
unloaded a further 37 3/4 tons in four consignments. On
May 15, 1620, the Mayflower brought in another wine
cargo, 50 1/4 tons of ordinary wine and 19 of "conyacks
HMS MAYFLOWER ship model plans:
33' 4" bilge keel cruiser
She's sort of a Maine Peapod
The best thing about the boat design business is the
people I get to meet. While most dealings are through
the mail, occasionally I get to meet the person "live,"
and often this ends up being a lot of fun.
Rosalind Hildred is such a person. We corresponded for
months, and then she decided she wanted me to design her
new boat. Even though she is most definitely NOT a male,
in the interests of being Politically Correct, I'll try
to describe her as though she wasn't a drop dead
Among Rosalind's family includes a former governor of
Malta, and as a result she is very much that wonderful
traditional first generation west coast Canadian that is
so British because of their upbringing, but being born
and raised in North America, they are tempered enough to
be bearable (just teasing, you know. God knows the Brits
have their fun at Yanks). She's quite fit, blond, and
lives on an Island in B.C. in a waterfront house she
built herself. She has a small boatbuilding facility and
mill, and saws her own lumber from the wealth of logs
still to be found up there. She has two strapping sons
and a boyfriend on another Island who flies in by
Rosalind arrived at my office in a 1960 powder blue
Morris Minor, bearing a half gallon of duty free whiskey
she got at the border. I can't imagine traveling in a 35
year old Brit car, but then I'm not British. In my
travels I've discovered that the Brits, more so even
than the Krauts, are capable of endurance and "keeping
your _____ up" (as they say) in situations where I'd
likely just sit down and rest. Of course since this car
is not only a Morris but is 35 years old too, it does
require a bit of work every now and then, but people who
travel in such things just say that's to be expected and
they cheerfully keep fixing it. Before Rosalind could
leave here, the Morris required a bit of water pump
attention, and seeing her flat on her back below the
Morris, swinging her wrenches, was a sight I'll never
forget and my wife STILL teases me about....
Anyway, to the boat. The goal was a seaworthy sailing
boat, easily handled, but capable of living on a mooring
that goes dry every tide. That last part was the
problem. Centerboards are a real hassle because they can
plug up with mud when the boat grounds. I've always
thought leeboards had a lot going for them, but Rosalind
wanted bilge keels so that's what we drew in. Although
popular in Europe, bilge keels have never been
particularly accepted here in the US. I think if they're
built heavy enough where they can take the abuse they
are bound to get they make sense. We solved the
potential structural problems (I hope!) by making them
rather shallow, and long. Rather than go for "optimum"
current ideas of keel waterflow shape, I drew them out
as long fins laminated in place from 5 1/2" wide stock,
tapered to 3" wide at the outer ends, heavily through
bolted into a solid stringer behind the frames. I think
they can bang away on an exposed beach for a while. To
further help them stand up to abuse, the main keel of
the boat is just a bit deeper than the bilge keels so it
will take the main weight of the boat when it grounds.
While it's never any fun to actually TEST your theories
of sufficient structural integrity, building in a way
that LOOKS heavy enough seems to work for me. I've been
lucky enough not to have structural failures, so far....
Rosalind knew exactly what she
wanted, and in the two days she was here we went through
a variety of lines and hull forms until she was happy.
She kept my nose to it, refusing to pay attention to my
attempts at making it my vision. This of course is what
makes a successful custom design; it's what the customer
wanted, not what the designer steered the client to. As
usual, the computer really helped here. After we got the
basic look we wanted, we then loaded the work on a
second computer and ran the two side by side, making
small changes in each and comparing back and forth. As
untraditional as CAD may feel to some people, the power
it gives to editing is what makes me stay with it.
Nobody drawing by hand could make the many versions of a
lines plan I routinely do before deciding on a
"finished" version. It wouldn't be possible! There's no
question that CAD hull programs have totally
revolutionized the design process.
The hull we ended up with is quite beamy and rather
shallow. Although it is a rather simple round bilge hull
and doesn't have reverse curve anywhere, it still has a
very attractive rather "high shouldered" sectional
shape. Rosalind wanted the slight tumblehome in the
midsection area. This is rather unusual, but it looks
good. The sections flow smoothly and would be easy to
cold mold diagonal layers to if you don't care for
traditional planking. It's very voluminous for its
length and should be quite stable. It's not a hull form
that will like to point well into the short choppy
waters often found around the Canadian Gulf Islands, but
it has an 16 HP Sabb diesel for that. Besides, Rosalind
wanted to use the two masted Junk rig which is not known
for pointing. It's interesting that the Junk rig is
quite common up in B.C. The rig makes sense because it
is so low tech. The full batten low aspect rig has
hardly any strain on the sail and the flat shape is easy
to make yourself. One Canadian told me he made his sails
from a blue plastic tarp, and they held up to a trip
down the coast to Mexico and back. Total cost was around
The construction of the boat is wood. Rosalind saws her
own logs and it was a whole new experience for me to
specify materials that were NOT based on off the shelf
lumber dimensions. What freedom! This was the first time
I could totally disregard "waste" and I had the time of
my life speccing out things like "1-3/8" x 2-1/4" or
1-7/8" x 2-3/4", just like the Old Boys used to do
before wood became an exotic and rare material. Builders
without access to their own old growth logs can modify
the dimensions to the closest available dimension, or of
course the boat could be completely cold molded up in
the latest fashion.
However, Rosalind is using pure old time traditional
wood construction with the exception of the deck and
house roof beams, and the frames between the main
frames. These are laminated. Construction is stout. The
main frames are double sawn of two layers of 1-3/8"
making a finished frame of 2 3/4"x 2 1/2". Planking is
2" red cedar, and there is a 1/2" red cedar ceiling.
Decks are planked from 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" red cedar. The
keel is sawn from full 12" wide logs. All fastenings are
silicon bronze and there is a tremendous hand forged
bronze stem iron that my friend Smitty found on a remote
Alaskan Island and gave to me. It looked made just for
this boat and will fit on with hardly any forging and,
contrary to my nature, I seem to remember I gave it to
Rosalind wanted just 5' 9" headroom which is enough for
her. I suggested raising the house a few inches, but I
suppose taller people will bump their heads once and
then learn. The Canadian Islands are some of the best
summer cruising in the world, and this boat's interior
will be very comfortable for extended trips. It has a
large galley, a comfortable double bunk, and lots of
storage. It's not a very "clever" interior because the
emphasis is on elbow room for two.
Certainly there's room to make a more normal interior,
but what do you give up? If the boat normally just has
one or two people aboard it makes more sense to have an
interior comfortable for them, rather than giving up
something to make bunks for occasional guests.
The boat's name, "MYNONIE", is for Rosalind's British
mother. I haven't met her but she sounds as though her
influence has much to do with her daughter's gutsiness.
For example, a few years before we worked on this design
the two of them hitch hiked from Canada to Mexico and
I lost touch with Ros for probably 10 years then out of
the blue (Jan 06) got an email from her. Unfortunately
because of a variety of personal issues the boat was
never finished, and, she's living in Belize now. Oh
well, that's the way things go but the most important
thing of course is that she's still going strong!
LBP: 33' 3"
LWL: 29' 6"
Beam: 12' 2"
Draft: 2' 6"
Displacement: 14,086 lbs.
Prismatic Coefficient: .608
Block Coefficient: .278