In 1609, an English sailing ship named The Sea Venture, traveling with a fleet of ships that carried approximately 150 people, were traveling to the Jamestown colony when they encountered a severe storm. Fierce winds and high waves spelled trouble for the ship – in the nick of time, sailors spotted some reefs and steered the ship in that direction.
The reefs were near St. Catherine’s Beach in the east end of Bermuda. Although the ship was wrecked, the crew managed to get to shore. Miraculously everyone survived, and thus the colonization of Bermuda began. A fantastic article in the Bermudian provides a closer look into what the original crew and passengers were faced with.
In the past 400 years, over 300 ships have been wrecked on Bermuda’s reefs, making the island a perfect place for divers to go treasure hunting and shipwreck exploring. Of the shipwrecks that decorate the ocean floor around the island of Bermuda, approximately 20 are the most popular for snorkeling and diving. Each is unique in its own way with varying degrees of experience required, meaning endless hours of exploration for divers to enjoy! Check out our blog post on some of the best wrecks.
The Sea Venture’s remains were located in 1958 in only 30 feet of water. Key items in found in the wreckage as well as an examination of the materials used to construct the boat confirmed it’s identity.
Of all the sunken ships that can be found around Bermuda, The Sea Venture is arguably the most important. If the crew of the Sea Venture hadn’t spotted the reefs and sought refuge on the island, it is likely that Bermuda wouldn’t have been settled for many years.
Interesting side note: John Rolfe was on The Sea Venture and spent 10 months in Bermuda after the ship crashed in the reefs. His wife and newborn child both passed away during this time. John then continued on to Jamestown which was the original intended destination for The Sea Venture. He would later meet Pocahontas in Virginia and they married in 1614.
Title image Printed by James Reeve – The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles, by Captain John Smith of Jamestown, printed by I.D and I. H. for Michael Sparkes, 1624.