After a five-day maiden voyage from Maine, the new Godspeed is in Jamestown ahead of schedule.
By late afternoon, the replica ship was greeted with cheers and the boom of a cannon at Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum near where the original Godspeed ended its voyage from England on May 13, 1607.
The three-masted ship -- powered by sails and twin diesel engines -- will stay in Jamestown for just two weeks. On May 22, it will head back north for an 80-day promotional tour of six East Coast ports to pump up interest in the Jamestown 2007 commemoration, an 18-month series of events marking the 400th anniversary of North America's first permanent English settlement.
The Godspeed made good time during its five-day voyage because it enjoyed largely favorable weather and hit the Cape Cod Canal and East River at the right moments, said the ship's captain, Eric Speth. He initially estimated the trip could take until Tuesday.
With the canal and river's strong currents working for rather than against it, the ship briefly zipped along at 10 or 11 knots, well above its usual top speed of 7 knots.
"A vessel like this can't sail that fast," said Speth, who's maritime program manager for the state-run Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the Godspeed's owner. "By planning to arrive at those locations at specific times, we actually were able to get ourselves ahead of schedule."
As the ship navigated Sunday through Hampton Roads, it inspired surprised laughs among some onlookers, while others said they felt like a part of history.
Danny Leary was angling for croaker on the James River Fishing Pier about 1 p.m. Sunday. Right then, the Godspeed popped out from under the drawbridge of the James River Bridge.
"There's pirates on that ship," he joked to his family and friends. Leary, a Norfolk resident, said he had seen a 17th-century vessel before, but in a book, not in person.
Earlier, the Godspeed had sailed by Fort Monroe in Hampton, where Ray and Maggie Holleran of Hampton were waiting for it. Ray Holleran, a docent at two museums, is the history buff in the relationship.
"I wanted to see it come through here, because we're looking at it -- along with the other two ships -- as it would have come through in 1607," he said. The other two ships, the Susan Constant and the Discovery, also sailed from England to Jamestown. "I just wanted to experience that," Holleran said.
For anyone tracking the new Godspeed, the task proved difficult at times. The ship at one point was expected to reach Little Creek Marina in Norfolk at 9 or 10 a.m. Sunday, then that changed to a marina in Hampton at 4 or 5 a.m.
In the end, the Godspeed arrived at the marina about 2 a.m. After adding 143 gallons of diesel fuel to its 400-gallon tanks, it proceeded with no fanfare just after 9 a.m. Speth said variations in the wind direction and strength led to the trip's unpredictability, as would any vessel.
The ship replaces an older Godspeed replica built in 1982 that is succumbing to a wood-destroying fungus. The new ship is 88 feet long, has a mast height of 72 feet and was built for $2.6 million at a shipyard in Rockport, Maine.
The Godspeed's 13-person crew trained on the ship before sailing for Virginia. During its maiden voyage, the crew worked in shifts so the vessel barely stopped during the five days.
People wishing to volunteer at the port visits can go online to the "Volunteers" section of www.jamestown2007.org or call (757) 220-7008.
At the Jamestown Settlement on Sunday, more than 60 people -- mostly tourists, the museum's employees or family of the crew -- braved a steady rain to watch the ship motor in with sails furled.
The Godspeed was met with the single-cannon salute, an honor guard in 17th-century armor and at least one shout of "Welcome home!" *
May 3: Departs Rockport, Maine, where it was built
Sunday: Refuels at Little Creek Marina in Norfolk and arrives at Jamestown
May 22: Sets off for 80-day tour