Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Half Moon [History -- Ships -- ca. 1609]

From our collection of old postcards ...

The Half Moon was a Dutch East India Company yacht, more properly known as Halve Maen. The ship was assigned to Henry Hudson by the Dutch East India Company for a voyage in 1609 to find a passage from the Netherlands to the Spice Islands. This old postcard features an image and description on the back.

The following is our summary of information found on the Library of Congress website about Dutch Exploration and tells the story of the ship on our postcard. 

The Half Moon was a Dutch East India Company yacht, more properly known as Halve Maen. The ship was assigned to Henry Hudson by the Dutch East India Company for a voyage in 1609 to find a passage from the Netherlands to the Spice Islands in the Far East. Actually, what Hudson found was a part of the New World.

Hudson left Amsterdam on April 6, 1609, aboard the Half Moon, a small, eighty-ton yacht with a crew of eighteen sailors. Sailing along the coast of Norway, he reached the North Cape on May 5. Fearful of another setback in the Arctic waters and worried about quarreling among the Dutch and English sailors on his crew, he made a bold decision to head westward toward North America, following a map that his friend Captain John Smith had shown him. There he hoped to find a westward passage to the Far East - an inlet that would lead to a river across America and into the Pacific.

Hudson made landfall on Labrador and then began to head south along the coast. He entered Chesapeake Bay and stopped briefly at the mouth of the Delaware River before turning north again. In early September he entered what later would come to be called New York Harbor and the Hudson River. Still searching for a passage to the East, the Half Moon sailed almost as far north as present-day Albany before Hudson turned back, convinced by the increasingly shallow water that the river would not lead to the open sea. Although disappointed that he was unable to find the fabled route to Asia, Hudson was impressed by the wealth of the New World. The ship's log describes a country teeming with beaver, deer, and otter and dotted with Indian villages that cultivated corn and beans.

The maps of Hudson's voyage are quite interesting and can be found on the website here.

Read more about the Half Moon at Ship Wiki here.

Thank you for stopping by John's Island.


  1. It was a beautiful world in the seventeenth century, and I'm sure that the "New World" was much more tranquil than we can imagine, before the indigenous population was decimated. Thanks for the information, John. :-)

  2. i'd have been terrified to take those voyages then. one tiny ship in an unknown ocean.

  3. I can not imagine being on this ship back in those days. I would be scared silly.. Great postcard and a wonderful post..

  4. I won't get on a boat now, so I probably would not have been one of those adventurers....thanks for the history- very interesting.

  5. Ah, that Northwest Passage! How many people have died to find it, so many disappointments. But - those were real explorers, Using only a compass and their knowledge. I think in 1609 they were still struggling to determine longitude! Quite the adventure! Thank you for this journey back in fascinating navigation history.

  6. Where would we be without all these brave explorers?

  7. To me it's always amazing what these people did with the technology they had at the time. They also covered great distances. It's argued that the chinese had been around America long before Columbus and had made charts. Columbus had charts when he crossed the Atlantic.

  8. Brave people!!
    Very interesting.

  9. Isn't it amazing that sailors dared to roam the world on ships like these? I like this postcard!

  10. Sorry John, blogger didn't show me this yesterday! grrrr...

    I like this postcard a lot, and again you did quite some work to put some information together about it :))

    Have a great day
    Tinna ✐

  11. Hoi John, it's so cute .... The American replica VOC museum ship the Half Moon has arrived in the Netherlands! On Thursday, April 23 was the ship taken off from the large transport ship MS Traveller in the port of IJmuiden ( here in The Netherlands). Our country have this replica now 5 years on loan. I will see it! Here a Dutch link, I think you like the photos



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