Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Colonial ship sails visitors back in time during HarborFest

NORFOLK — As the 2017 Harborfest is in full swing, residents and visitors wandering the Waterside Marina can take a look back in time with a tour of the Jamestown Settlement’s Godspeed.

Throughout the weekend, those visiting the marina festivities can tour the fully-functional replica ship and learn about the original 17th century vessel that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607.

According to Hank Mosley, captain of the Godspeed, the ship is one of three replica vessels owned by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, including the Susan Constant and Discovery, which also transported settlers.

Each vessel serves as a traveling exhibit and physics laboratory that he and his crew of volunteers use to educate students and visitors.

“We have folks come out and visit the ship and see what it was like to run a ship in the 17th century,” said Mosley. “We like to get it out and take it sailing, and visit other ports throughout the Virginia region.”

The vessel is typically docked in the Jamestown Settlement, which is a recreation of 17th century Virginia located by Williamsburg.

While there were no images or blueprint documents of the ship, Mosley added, the Godspeed was constructed with the help of historians and researchers. They modeled the ship to be the same size as the Godspeed and gave it common attributes from the era.

“We like to say that it is an accurate depiction of what a ship of Godspeed’s size would’ve looked like in the early 17th century, but there is no way that we can say that it is exactly like it,” Mosley said.

From the deck to the bunks below, the replica vessel offers an authentic experience that is designed to transport guests into the 17th century.

Since the Godspeed was built, it has been on annual voyages to ports and events in throughout the state, including Cape Charles, Irvington, and Harborfest

For history buffs looking to get a further glimpse into the past, the  Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 and the Colonial Parkway at 2110 Jamestown Road next to site of the original 1607 settlement, where patrons can also tour the Susan Constant and Discovery.

The Godspeed will be docked at Norfolk’s Waterside Marina throughout the weekend and will be open for public tours from noon to 6 p.m.

“Godspeed is a very handy vessel,” said Mosley. “She’s a lot of fun to sail, and then when you combine that with having all these other ships from around the world joining us here in Norfolk…that makes it even more special, to be able to share our local history with all of these foreign ships.”

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