Step on board a 16th century adventurer's ship

When Eliza first sees the Tiger, the ship that will carry her to America, she’s horrified.

"Her gaze shifted to the vessel that was to be their home for the next few weeks. It was the first time she’d looked at it properly and she gulped as she noticed how tiny it was.

‘We’re goin’ to cross the ocean in that?’ she said to Aunt Bess.

It was smaller by far than the village barn at Branscome. She bit her lip nervously and tried not to think of the voyage ahead."

The ships used by the Elizabethan colonists were tiny - often not much longer than two modern buses.

All available space was taken up with supplies, tools and seeds - everything the colonists would need in their new homes.

The Tiger is the name of a real ship: it was used to transport the colonists from England to America. It carried salted pork, preserved beef and dried fish. There were also dozens of barrels of beer on board: the children drunk beer rather than water, which tasted disgusting after just a few days at sea.

The Tiger may well have carried livestock, pigs and chicken, and the colonists are known to have taken dogs with them.

Elizabethan ships smelled revolting. Francis compares the stink to his brother’s feet. It was almost certainly far worse.

Elizabethan ships were armed with cannon. The colonists knew they were likely to be attacked if they met any Spanish vessels at sea.

There’s a replica of an Elizabethan ship, the Golden Hind, on display in London. If you get a chance to visit it, you’ll understand why Eliza was so frightened to be crossing an ocean in such a tiny vessel.

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