Sunk in July 1609
This ship Sea Venture
had actually started the history of Bermuda
and brought in the first settlers in the island. They were all originally headed for the English colony Jamestown but were forced to land in Bermuda due to a fierce storm. Here is the story of Sea Venture:
In July 1609, Sir George Somers had started with a fleet of 9 ships from Plymouth (England) towards the new English colony Jamestown in Virginia. He was carrying settlers and food supplies for the new colony. As a chief commander, he was aboard the lead ship (or the flagship) called the Sea Venture. There were 150 sailors and settlers aboard the vessels, and a dog.
The fleet was caught in a severe storm. The sailors were somehow able to spot the east-end reefs of Bermuda (near St. George) and were able to steer the ship towards the rocks. The ship however got wrecked at the reefs off Gate's Bay (i.e. the bay of St. Catherine's Beach
). But luckily all men on board survived including the dog :-). All came ashore and but few were asked to stay back to retain British claim of the newly found island... they started the first human settlement in Bermuda.
The survivors later built two new ships - The Deliverance
and The Patience
. The Deliverance was constructed primarily out the materials stripped from the Sea Venture itself. Having built the two new vessels, most of them had set sail again for Jamestown except the few who stayed back.
An artist's depiction of Sea Venture caught in a storm
Painting by Christopher Grimes, Bermuda
For a long time this 300 ton single timbered ship of London Company sat on top of the reefs and was largely stripped off its cargo and many other parts over time by the early settlers. However whatever remained finally sank and sat below the sea amongst underwater reefs. But the exact location of the wreck remained unknown for a long time.
However two canon guns were recovered from the wreck in 1612 and used in the eastern-end military forts built by the British in early 17th century. One can be seen at Castle Island Fort
and the other one at Governor's Island fort located opposite to Paget Fort.
Nearly 350 years after the Sea Venture got wrecked, Edmund Downing set out to find the Sea Ventures
remains in 1958. He found a wreck in 30 feet of water. The Smithsonian's, Mendel Peterson and the legendary Bermuda diver Teddy Tucker
were called to verify the site. They recovered a stone jug, a clay pipe, and a vase and confirmed that they belonged to the period when the original Sea Venture ship had sunk. They also took timber measurements and concluded that this was indeed the vessel that had brought Bermuda's first colonists in the year 1609.
2) There is a new monument built in St. George Bermuda in memory of the survivors of the Sea Venture. Read Monument for Sea Venture
to know the details.
Kate Wellborn Frick (October 2018)
I am also a descendant of John Welborn (Wellsbourne) who was on the Sea Venture.
Michael W McClure (September 2018)
Can the wreckage of the original Sea Venture (1609) be reached by any diving opportunities in Bermuda?
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) September 2018
Original Sea Venture wreck is a restricted site and recreational diving is not allowed there. What is available for dive is Sea Venture Ferry wreck at the Eastern Blue Cut (off the north-western coast of the island and quite far away from the original location)... this was a government ferry which was sunk in October 2007 and made into a dive site. It lies at a depth of about 50 ft. The wreck was named after the original Sea Venture but does not have an iota of resemblance with the original one. It's more like a modern ferry that sits upright.
Monica Hake (February 2018)
My ancestors, Samuel Jordan and William Bass also survived the 1609 shipwreck of the Sea Venture and continued on to Jamestown.
Susan Wellborn (November 2017)
My ancestors were among the shipwrecked.."John Wellborn" who arrived in Jamestown in 1609.