On Hudson’s final voyage from England in 1610, he was searching for a northwest passage, and found a large body of water that he thought was the Pacific Ocean. However, it was only a large bay, later to be named Hudson Bay.
In June, 1611, the ship became blocked in by ice in James Bay. The crew wanted to get back to England, but Hudson refused to let them leave.
On June 22, 1611, the crew mutinied, put Hudson, his son, and five other crewmen in a small boat, and left them there. No one knows what happened to them. It is just assumed that they died sometime after that.
It is believed that Henry Hudson was born in the 1570s. That date is only approximate; it could go several years either way. Very little is known of his life until 1607. There is a possibility he sailed with John Davis, who was looking for a northwest passage, in 1587.
Very little is known about Hudson, but we know he and his family lived in London. Some think he served on an English ship fighting the Spanish Armada in 1588.
He was an experienced mariner, as recorded in his first voyage in 1607.
In Henry Hudson’s day, many thought that you could sail over the North Pole to get to the Orient. Many actually thought that the poles were warmer, and it would be smooth sailing up there. On May 1, 1607, Hudson, his son, and 11 other crew members set sail and, after six weeks, saw the east coast of Greenland. At the end of June, they reached West Spitzbergen Island, spotting many seals, walruses, and whales along the way.
Mid-July found them at Collin's Bay, which is 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. By the 16th, seeing many icebergs, he thought that there was no passage through the north to the Orient, and on the 31st, began the return trip to England. Information about the whales, seals and walruses that was taken back to England from his voyage spurred the whaling industry in that area.
Three months after returning home, Hudson was ready to sail again, this time looking for a northeast passage. He was employed by the Russia Company to find a route to the Orient, through the Arctic waters north of Russia. He left in April, with a crew of 14. One interesting thing was that Hudson was the first sailor to observe that ocean water changes color when it is near ice. Disappointed, he returned to England in August.
In April, 1609, Henry Hudson sailed for a Dutch trading company to again try to find a passage through the north to the Far East. The conditions were so bad, that Hudson, with the threat of mutiny, sailed down the coast of Canada. He sailed into New York Bay and explored what came to be called the Hudson River. In October, they sailed back to England.
Life on the sea during Hudson’s time was primitive, with terrible living conditions. Navigation was hard, with only a compass, an astrolabe, and a quadrant. The astrolabe helped you navigate from the North Star. The quadrant helped you determine your latitude. The chronometer had not been invented yet, so you never knew your exact longitude, and you only had an hourglass to keep time.
Many sailors were very superstitious, and some, even Hudson, actually believed in mermaids.
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