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Backing the expedition is wealthy Cornish mine owner Sir William Godolphin
in Cornwall. It is his house, dating from 1475 that is pictured here. Sir William is not on the voyage but Sir Thomas Gates,
the Governor of Virginia is. Gates is accompanied by soldier George Yeardley from Southwark in London (and future Knight and
Governor), together with Jamestown’s secretary John Rolfe from Heacham in Norfolk. All three are among the company of
about 150 ‘Gentlemen adventurers’, sailors, women and children aboard Somers flagship, the 300-ton ‘Sea
Venture’ when, seven weeks into the voyage on Sunday, 23 July, disaster strikes.
storm hits them, increasing in volume from the north-east which scatters the fleet. The ‘Sea Venture’ now alone
and fiercely battered by the huge seas starts to leak so badly that soon there is nine feet of water above the ballast in
the hold before anyone is properly aware of the danger. Panic. Panic. All hands to the pumps but these soon become useless,
choked up. Now every man takes his turn, day in and day out, desperately bailing until the morning of Friday, 28 July when
the shout goes up from the look-out, ‘Land Ho!’.
Throughout the storm no observations
can be taken so the mariners have no idea whatsoever of their position in the ocean and thus are amazed to find that they
have been driven to the much dreaded Islands of the Bermudas. Somers orders the helmsman to bear up and presently the sailor
swinging and heaving his lead line for the third time has ground (finds the sea bed) at a depth of four fathoms. However,
by now the stricken vessel is within a mile under the south-east point of land and heading for the rocks. Nothing can save
her, so with shouted prayers for deliverance to the Almighty, they have no alternative but to run the ship ashore. Three quarters,
a half, then a quarter mile off the beach, jammed upright between two rocks. This miracle allows everyone aboard to escape
ashore without a single loss of life and where, as William Strachey will record later that Governor Gates ‘did first
leape ashore’ for the area to become named as ‘Gates his Bay’.