Sunday, March 2, 2008
Sea Venture (Book #21)
Sea Venture (Kieran Doherty, 2007) tells the story of the eponymous ship, which saved the Jamestown colony and inspired The Tempest. The Sea Venture was part of a fleet of nine ships bringing settlers and supplies to the beleaguered colony in 1609. Caught in a hurricane, it ran aground in the reefs surrounding Bermuda, where the survivors spent the winter and built two smaller ships to carry them on to Virginia. (All but one of the other ships in the fleet made it safely to Jamestown--where most of the passengers died as part of the Starving Time crisis that nearly destroyed the colony. Ironically, the shipwreck on Bermuda is what saved both the Sea Venture passengers and the colony itself--Bermuda had plenty of fish, birds, and edible plants and no hostile natives, so the shipwreck survivors landed in Virginia well-fed and healthy enough to hold out till another relief fleet arrived from England.) It's a short, readable history, though it would've been more focused if the author had stuck to one or two threads--perhaps John Rolfe, the Sea Venture passenger who married Pocahontas and established tobacco cultivation in Virginia, or else the colonization of Bermuda that followed the Sea Venture survivors' account of how healthy and fertile the islands were.