Pinnace: A small boat of about 20 tons, usually with two square-rigged masts, but occasionally with a lugsail on the main. They carried oars as well as sails. They sometimes accompanied the early voyages of exploration. The small Squirrel in which Sir Humphrey Gilbert lost his life on his return from Newfoundland in 1583 was a pinnace.
Barque or Bark: A sailing vessel with three masts, square-rigged on the fore and main and fore-and-aft rigged on the mizen. Ranged from small to mid-sized sailing ships.
Fly-boat or Vllie: A flat-bottomed Dutch vessel with a very high and ornate stern with broad buttocks, and with one or two masts either square-rigged on both or with a spritsail on the mainmast. Ranged from small to about 600 tons. Mainly used for local coastal traffic.
Pinque, Pinkie or Pink: A small square-rigged ship with a narrow and overhanging stern. Sometimes used as a fishing vessel. In the 15th and 16th centuries the name was loosely applied to all small ships with narrow sterns, a fairly common design in those days.
Shallop: An open rowing boat, usually small and often a river boat, double-ended, with a mast so it could be rowed or sailed. A very common vessel in Europe.
Caravel: A large, armed merchant vessel pioneered by the Portuguese originally as fishing and coastal trading boats. Later they were used for trade ships, around 80-130 tons, but sometimes (according to Samuel Bawlf) ranging up to 1,000 tons. While able to carry more trade goods than smaller ships, the cost to build and maintain these larger vessels absorbed much of the profits. Spanish galleons came after, and many were larger than caravels. Most European nations had their own galleons.
Nautical measurements were usually different than land measurements. Distance was measured in leagues and nautical miles. The term league was derived from an ancient Celtic unit of measurement, then adopted by the Romans as a "legua." There were many different national variations on the definition of a league.
In England, a league was 6,080 yards - or three nautical miles (each league being 6,080 feet). That's 3.45 standard miles (the land-based mile is 5,280 feet). A nautical mile is thus roughly 1.15 standard miles.
Sixty nautical miles (20 leagues) formed one degree of latitude. The distance around the world at the equator is 21,600 nautical miles, 24,857 standard miles or 40,003 kilometers (a kilometer was first defined in 1791 by the French Academy of Science as being 1/10,000th of the distance from the North Pole to the equator).
Nautical leagues were also different from land-based leagues. In England and America, one league on land equalled three miles on land. But in Spain, a league equalled about 2.63 standard miles, in Portugal a league on land was 3.836 miles and in France it was about 2.422 miles. Mapmaking could get very confusing.
Nautical miles could further be broken into smaller measurements called "cables." Ten cables made one nautical mile.
The Portuguese used a slightly different system of nautical measurement: a Portuguese nautical league was 6,472 yards, so only 17.5 leagues made up a degree of latitude.
In 1929, the nautical mile was precisely defined at an international conference to be exactly 1852 meters or 6076.115 feet (1.11508 standard miles).
Depth was measured in fathoms. One fathom was six feet deep. 15 fathoms equal one shackle (sometimes noted as 12, other times 12.5 fathoms - based on the length of an iron anchor chain). See Nautical Units and Angles.
Speed was measured in knots, rather than miles per hour. One knot means covering one nautical mile per hour. This converts to approximately 1.85 km/h or 1.15 miles per hour. Ships in Hudson's era could travel 60-90 nautical miles a day, depending on wind and sea conditions.
A ship used a rope with a wooden float to measure its speed. Knots were tied in the rope every 7 fathoms (42 feet). Every hour, the float was tossed out and the knots counted off as they played out, measured against a small sand glass that ran out in 30 seconds (one half minute). If three knots were counted in the time it took to empty the top of the glass into the bottom, then that meant the ship was travelling three knots per hour (or one nautical mile), four meant a speed of four knots and so on. See Navigation Instruments in 16th Century England.
Speed, distance and depth were among the data recorded in a ship's journal, along with the time, birds, weather, land sightings, wind and compass readings. By the sixteenth century, navigators knew the magnetic compass did not point due north, and was sometimes subject to local fluctuations. They relied on the North Star as much as the readings from the compass rose.
Time was measured by sand glasses or hourglasses, usually in four-hour or half-hour sizes. Duty on a ship was divided into four six-hour watches and the ship's boy would tend to the half-hour glass, striking a bell every time he turned the glass over. See Navigation in John Cabot's Time.
Ships were also measured by how much cargo they could carry. The traditional unit was the ton or tun - a measure of volume, not weight. It was based on a 252-gallon cask of Burgundy wine and was about 40 cubic feet (1.13 m3). A ton was roughly equal to two butts (smaller casks 108-140 gal, each about 0.573 m3 ) A butt of beer was somewhat smaller at 0.491 m3. A 30-ton ship carried 16-18 crew. Later, a ton could also mean up to 50 cu. ft. of hewn lumber.
Web Sites & Links:
Because the Internet is in constant flux, pages change or move, hosts change, and even domain names change. I have attempted to verify all of the links below, but some of these may not be current. If you find a broken link, please notify me through the discussion forum noted below. If you have a site you feel I should list, and I agree it is relevant, I will be happy to exchange links with you. There are also numerous references to people (including Henry Hudson), places and events mentioned in this narrative at www.wikipedia.org, and more are added all the time.
Henry Hudson Discussion forum: Ask your questions, post your comments or suggest new links about Henry Hudson, Arctic exploration or Elizabethan explorers in the Henry Hudson topic area. Please be careful not to post in one of the other topic areas.
I have reprinted some classical or out-of-print sources on my page at hudson_quotes.htm. Documents from the mutineers' trial are also reproduced on hudson_court.htm. I will attempt to transcribe or scan others in the following months.
Links about Hudson, his voyages, and his ships:
Half Moon replica- A detailed page about the replica of Hudson's ship. Also check out:
You can read about building the first replica of the Half Moon in 1909 for the Hudson-Fulton Celebration.
More on the Half Moon here: www.timesunion.com/halfmoon/
There are many good pictures of the Half Moon and a narrative at the New Netherland Museum, and an excellent virtual tour at Times Union
Hudson in Dutch service - Hudson's years with the Dutch East India Company.
You can read the full text of
Robert Juet's 1609 journal here:
Henry Hudson's Last Voyage - A National Film Board (Canada) film about Hudson and his fateful fourth voyage.
Ghost of Henry Hudson -
Douglas McNaughton's excellent story on the fate of Hudson, published in
Mercator's World magazine.
Asimov's book on Hudson - a good introduction for elementary school students.
A general article on Hudson is here:
An excerpt from Emanuel Van Meteren's 1642 book on Hudson's 1610 voyage is here: www.ibiblio.org/gutenberg/etext00/mohwk10.txt and here: jollyroger.nbci.com/xlibrary1/OriginalNarrativesofAN/OriginalNarrativesofAN1.html
An excellent map of the 1609 and 1610 voyages here: international.loc.gov/intldl/awkbhtml/kb-1/kb-1-1-4.html, the 1609 voyage: international.loc.gov/intldl/awkbhtml/kb-1/kb-1-1-5.html and the text is here: international.loc.gov/intldl/awkbhtml/kb-1/kb-1-1.html#track1
A page on the 1610 Velasco map and annotations for Hudson's discoveries around Manhattan is here: www.she-philosopher.com/gallery/1610mapC1.html
The year 1609 - From the history of Pelham County, New York State. Also see: members.bellatlantic.net/~ppbhist/time_hudson.htm for notes on Hudson's 1609 voyage.
Half Moon's arrival in the New World: www.lihistory.com/2/hs214a.htm
Explorer of the Hudson River - A description by Half Moon Press, book publisher.
A brief biography of Hudson: www.columbia.edu/~lt165/hudson.html
A link to genealogy of the Hudson family. Also see:
The English East India Company - About the company that commissioned Hudson on his last voyage. Also see www.theeastindiacompany.com/company.html for more information. And check out les.man.ac.uk/IPA/papers/2.html for a Marxist analysis of the bourgeois revolution in the EEIC.
Links to related pages at the Hudson Valley Network site: www.hvnet.com/TOUR/upper/HIST/histtext.htm
An essay on Hudson's "lost leadership":
Two brief histories, but with incorrect
Mariner.org's brief history with map (second voyage is incorrectly indicated) and:
Was Hudson after gold on his final voyage, not a Northwest Passage? See the intriguing article by Carl Schuster from Beaver Magazine: www.historysociety.ca/english/thebeaver/features/aug99/hudson_1.html
A little about Robert Juet, with a map of his comments on the 1609 journey up the Hudson Rover, at American Journeys: www.americanjourneys.org/aj-133/summary/index.asp
A Canadian government site about Hudson: www.collectionscanada.ca/explorers/kids/h3-1420-e.html
The PBS page on Hudson: www.pbs.org/empireofthebay/profiles/hudson.html
The Houghton Mifflin Ships of the World Historical Encyclopedia article on Hudson's ship Discovery:
Julian Hawthorne's 1920 History of the United States has a chapter on Henry Hudson here.
An audio transcript that briefly describes Hudson's last voyage is available on the Atlas of Canada site. Apple's Quicktime player is required.
The History of New York State, online edition has several chapters about Hudson's voyage here and here and here.
Scientific American published an item on Hudson in 1909.
Rivers of America, a 1939 book, had a piece on Hudson.
The American Biography site has an entry about Hudson.
Edward Wright's "new map" (published by Hakluyt in 1599)
Excerpt about Hudson from Our County, a 19th century textbook.
Chapters from How the Dutch Came to Manhattan, by Blanche McManus (1897) are online.
A precis of the text of George
Asher (see below) and John Meredith Read is at
Robert Juet is described as
New York's first weather observer.
Passage Up the Hudson contains parts of Prickett's journal.
Robert Juet is described as New York's first weather observer.
Passage Up the Hudson contains parts of Prickett's journal.
A page from the Stuyvesant Library on Hudson's 1609 voyage (in Dutch).
A history of Dutch Settlement in America (esp. Delaware) 1609-1636 is at Accessible Archives.
The Dictionary of Famous People has an entry about Hudson and many of his contemporaries. including Van Meteren (also at Science Daily).
The Mariners' Museum has a lot of biographies of explorers, including Hudson.
Henry Hudson page at the IMA Hero reading program
Links about related history, Arctic and other exploration and cartography:
Michael Turner's site about 16th century British explorer, Francis Drake is a rich resource for Drake's voyages and discoveries: www.indrakeswake.co.uk
The quest for the fictitious Strait of Anian is described here
Northwest Passage - About the challenges presented by the route to the Orient.
Here's a page about European mapmakers from 1560-1600: www.antiquemaps.co.uk/book/chapter13.html
Atlas of explorers of Canada and North America. A good, zoom-able map of Arctic explorers in Hudson Bay 1610-32 is at the Atlas of Canada
A biography of Hakluyt is here.
The Port of London has several pages on the East India Company
Early Canadiana Online - Has reproduced PDF versions of numerous early works of explorers and geography, including Hakluyt, plus a searchable database of those records at www.canadiana.org/ECO/mtq?language=en.
The Canadian Archives on Haklyut and Purchas: www.collectionscanada.ca/2/8/h8-222-e.html
Brief biography of Samuel Purchas at Bartleby's: www.bartleby.com/214/0503.html and at BC Bookworld: www.abcbookworld.com/?state=view_author&author_id=4161
Also see: odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/E/newnetherlands/nlxx.htm, about the relationship between the United States and the Netherlands. And see: www.ncb.gov.sg/nhb/raffles/VOC.html for the Dutch East India Company.
Dr. John Dee was a visionary, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth and friend to some of the Hudson family.
The Northeast Passage - Dutch explorers search during the "Little Ice Age."
Discoverers Web Pages - A rich source of information about exploration and adventure, with many links. The "Pirate King" Ossian site has a page on William Baffin.
The Duyfken was a Dutch ship that sailed to the Spice Islands in 1606. She was rebuilt in 2000 for an anniversary trip around the world. A great site about 16th-17th century shipbuilding and Dutch merchant sailors. The Duyfken would have been similar to the Half Moon and the Discovery.
Education aids for teachers on history and other topics can be found at www.edhelper.com
Nordic Explorers - Nordic explorers and their culture.
Chronology of Arctic explorers - A resource for Canadian Arctic explorations, from the Elisha Kent-Kane Museum.
Inuit and Englishmen - Chronicles the voyages of Martin Frobisher, his relations with the Inuit (which may have effected their reaction to Hudson who came later).
Pat O'Brien's Maritime Canada - A guide to Eastern Canadian history and culture.
Wintering on Nova Zembla - Mostly about Barentz, but has many good descriptions and photographs from a modern expedition.
The Elisha Kent-Kane Museum - The Elisha Kent Kane Historical Society is a historical society organized in the State of New York for the purposes of preserving and disseminating the lore and artifacts of nineteenth century Arctic exploration.
An article in Pravda about the Dutch at the Arctic Circle.
E-books about Hudson Bay and the Hudson Bay Company archives are at digitalbookindex.com
The Search for the Northwest Passage is on Channel 4 history
Other sites on the Northwest Passage include:
Geographical and nautical sites:
Parks Canada on Hudson Strait
Some pictures and paintings, including historic photographs of Hudson Bay and the Canadian Arctic are at: www.canadianheritage.org/reproductions/10105.htm
Excellent satellite pictures of Hudson Bay, ice and weather are available at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Centre image gallery. There are some stunning images of ice covering the bay in June.
Spitsbergen is now Svalbard. There are some terrific images on this island group online.
Environment Canada on sea ice in James Bay, Hudson Bay and Hudson's Strait
University of Waterloo has a site that studies the Canadian cryosphere
A abstract (PDF) on the mean and tidal currents in Hudson Strait
Charting Neptune's Realm: a site about the history & development of marine navigation, based on the works of Donald Johnson.
Navigation Instruments in 16th Century England.
Navigation in John Cabot's Time.
Wikipedia has an entry for Buss (Busse) Island, so does the Hudson Bay Company. The captain of Emmanuel, one of the ships on Frobisher's 1578 expedition, was sailing south of Greenland, and spotted an island that had never been seen before, around 57 N. It was soon added to new maps. Henry Hudson, looking for the Northwest Passage, hoped to see and perhaps even explore it, but never found it. Captain Zachariah Gillam on the Nonsuch claimed to have sighted it again, in 1668. In 1671, Thomas Shepherd, Captain of the Golden Lion, saw the island and claimed he landed on it. He made a map, naming 12 of the island's features. The Hudson Bay Company immediately sent out two vessels under Shepherd's command but they failed to find Buss Island again. By the mid-18th century, few sailors believed it really existed, although some suggested it had sunk. It disappeared from marine charts and maps by 1856. Also see www.eaudrey.com/myth/Places/buss_island.htm
The Hudson Valley in historic and modern times: www.hudsonvalley.org, Hudson River Museum, Hudson River Maritime Museum, A River that Flows Two Ways, Hudson River Historical Tour, Hudson River Valley Institute (historical documents),
Some sites about or images of Novaya Zemlya (Nova Zemlaya or Nova Zembla): encyclopedia.laborlawtalk.com/Nova_Zembla, visibleearth.nasa.gov, The Winter at Novaya Zemlya 1596-97
Satellite images of the regions Hudson explored are available from NASA's Visible Earth site. Take a look at the stunning images of Hudson Bay covered in ice, as well as Ungava Bay, Baffin Island and Hudson Strait. Search for Hudson River and New York, Svalbard (Spitzbergen), the Kara Sea and Novaya Zemlya. NASA also has a gallery of images at Rapidfire.
Henry Davis has a site with links to numerous antique maps.
A shallop was "an open rowing and sailing vessel built to carry cargo, used for fishing, or just traveling on the water," with equipped with sail and oars. Information about 17th century shallops at Plimouth Plantation and The Howland Shallop.
Here's Discovery in the Ships of the World database, as well as Half Moon.
Currents and tides in Hudson Strait: Maps & Graphics Database, Mean & Tidal currents (PDF), Parks Canada, Navigation of Hudson Bay & Straits (1883), The Inuit village of Ivujivik, near Digges Island (with map). Hudson Strait has one of Canada's three "Reversing Falls" at Barrier Inlet. See Fisheries & Oceans Canada. William Baffin's 1615 map of Hudson Strait is in the British Library. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency has a good modern navigational description of Hudson Strait, Ungava Bay, and the east side of Hudson Bay including James Bay. Tidal current in the Strait runs about 5 knots, slowing to 2-3 around Digges' Island. Tides range from 13.2m on the north side to 10.1m on the south. Winter storms in the strait have had winds recorded at 85 knots up to 110 knots (98-126 mph) recorded in 1931. There are many areas of magnetic disturbance noted in the strait, which would affect a ship's compass (see this article). For notes on a modern expedition through the strait, read the NFB's Sedna logs. The skipper wrote, "Winds at 30 knots in Hudson Strait run into an impressive tidal current and throw up walls over 5 metres high. SEDNA is turned into a roller-coaster." Tide tables show tides as high as 8.8m in the strait.
Akpatok Island (Ungava Bay) images from satellite are at Earth as Art pages (search for other images of Hudson Bay, James Bay and the Arctic).
Peter Pope's article on Ships & Navigation in Atlantic Canada in the 16th Century and here's a page on Tudor Sailing Ships.
Nunavut has The Northwest Passage Territorial Park.
A good map of Smith Sound (discovered by Bylot and Baffin) is in this PDF report on the Precambrian geology of Greenland.
This is the list of printed sources, many of which were used to compile this web site. New books are constantly being published and research never ends, so there may be other published items available since this list was compiled. There are numerous young-adult books about Hudson in print, but not all are listed here.
Henry Hudson Discussion forum: Ask your questions, post your comments or suggest new publications about Henry Hudson, Arctic exploration or Elizabethan explorers in the Henry Hudson topic area. Be careful not to post in one of the other topic areas.
Fiction and film
Desire Provoketh - The Story of the Hudson Mutiny, by George Leal, Paul Mould Publishing, UK, 2005. A fictional account of the last voyage of Hudson, told from the perspective of Thomas Woodhouse, who was abandoned in the bay with Hudson and other crew, in 1611. Some pages of Woodhouse's journal were discovered in the ship after it reached England. The title derives from an island Hudson named as he entered the Furious Overfall. Unusual in that, despite its inherent drama, Hudson's last voyage has rarely been the subject of fiction. The author takes some literary and historical liberties with the characters in order to provide an entertaining, dramatic tale about both the voyage and the subsequent fate of those cast adrift. Available online through some booksellers, or directly from the publisher at at www.film-buff.com.
Another fictional account is Mutiny on Hudson Bay: The Story of the Last Voyage of Henry Hudson, by Delbert Young (W. J. Gage Limited, Toronto, 1963). A young adult book, written from the perspective of Nicolas Symes. Out of print
Antiquarian and vintage sources: