Piece of floating history docks at New London’s City Pier
The Half Moon, the replica of a 1609 Dutch exploration ship, arrived this week at New London’s City Pier on a mission of historic proportions.
The replica, made in 1989, is a reproduction of the ship that Henry Hudson sailed from Holland to the New World. It travels the Hudson and Connecticut rivers, re-enacting parts of the ship’s original exploration of the East Coast. The ship is operated by the New Netherlands Museum.
The original voyage on behalf of the East India Co. resulted in the founding of the New Netherlands colony, which extended from central Connecticut into what is modern-day Delaware.
The ship – its three large masts, its green, blue and red painted sideboards, and its lion figurehead – contrasted with New London’s high-speed ferries and trains along the waterfront when it arrived Tuesday. It left Athens, N.Y., June 20. On Friday, 12 seventh-graders will join the Half Moon crew on a trip from new London up the Connecticut River to East Hartford.
There the students will attend educational programs run by Goodwin College as part of the school’s environmental awareness program, according to Capt. Chip Reynolds.
Reynolds said in an interview this week that the lion was the Netherlands’ symbol during the 1500s and into the 1660s. The Spanish had tried imposing Catholicism on the Dutch, who resisted.
The Dutch rebelled and won back their freedom, preserving their diverse society, Reynolds said. The leaders of the American Revolution would have been familiar with the Dutch revolution.
Sarah Read, of Albany, N.Y., said that the replica Half Moon’s 12 crew members are volunteers. Read started as a student volunteer aboard Half Moon in 1999 on the ship’s second voyage.
She said the students come from different states, and the combination of science, sailing skills and history are a lure for students and crew members alike.
More than 500 students have gone through the program, Reynolds said.
Despite the ship’s appearance, modern day equipment, such as an engine, navigational system, radar and GPS are necessary, Read and Reynolds said.
The ship is not open for tours in New London, Reynolds said, but will be available once the ship is in East Hartford July 3.
By CAITLIN WOLTER