The story so far: Shipwrecked en route to Jamestown, passengers and crew of the Sea Venture spent 10 months marooned on Bermuda. They built two ships to take them to Virginia.
On March 30, 1610, the castaways towed the Deliverance to a small island where the channel was deep enough to launch. They built a stone causeway to protect the ship while waiting for the Patience to be finished.
At the end of April, Captain Matthew Somers, the nephew of Admiral George Somers, brought the Patience alongside the Deliverance. Provisions and ammunitions were loaded onto both ships.
Somers and Christopher Newport used a small boat to guide the ships through the reefs. All they awaited now was the right wind.
On May 10, the Deliverance departed, followed by the Patience. There was a brief scare when the Deliverance hit a rock, but it was the rock instead of the boat that was crushed. Both ships headed out to sea.
Left behind were six dead, including the infant Bermuda Rolfe and the executed Henry Paine. There were also two alive on the island: Christopher Carter and Edward Waters, both unrepentant mutineers.
The former castaways, including by some accounts five women, arrived in Jamestown just a few weeks later. As they had feared, it was a much less pleasant place than Bermuda.
Seven of the ships from Somers' fleet had made it to Jamestown the year before, but many of their passengers, along with many of the original settlers, had since died.
John Smith, who had provided the colonists with leadership and, through his dealings with Pocahontas and her people, food, had left Jamestown after being injured in a gunpowder explosion. The winter of 1609-1610 became known as the "Starving Time." By the time Somers got there, only 60 colonists remained alive and the settlement was near ruin.
Sir Thomas Gates, finally able to assume the role of governor, decided to abandon the colony. Everyone crowded on board the Deliverance and the Patience as well as two other ships docked at Jamestown. They headed down the James River, bound for England.
Before they could reach the Chesapeake Bay, they learned that Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, was sailing up the James in three ships with 150 new settlers along with food and supplies. In what became a profound turning point in history, West ordered Gates to turn around.
Back to Bermuda
West's provisions, which were greater than what Somers had brought from Bermuda, staved off starvation, but meat was still scarce in Jamestown. Somers offered to take two ships to Bermuda and bring back some of the wild hogs.
His motives have been disputed. Butler, or whoever wrote "A History of the Bermudaes," suspected Somers was more interested in colonizing Bermuda than in aiding Jamestown. But West had no doubt that "this good old gentlemen, out of his love and zeal, most cheerfully and resolutely undertook to perform this dangerous voyage."
The governor told him to go.
Somers took the Patience, Samuel Argylle and the Discovery. Three days later, a storm blew them off course.
Argylle made it back to Jamestown while Somers reached Bermuda, where he was reunited with Carter and Waters. Somers and his crew filled the Patience with fish and meat, but more storms (and in the more cynical view, more exploring) prevented them from returning to Jamestown.
By the end of the summer there was another problem. Somers was sick, with what is unclear. One sailor blamed "a surfeit of pig." Another thought he was "overtoiling himself." On Nov. 9, 1610, Somers died in Bermuda.
Making landfall at Jamestown
Saving colonists from Starving Time
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