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Saturday, May 23, 2009

"The Matthew: What's In A Name"

Lots if you ask me! John Cabot is said to have named his or should I say King Henry's boat after his wife 'Mattea'. This is a replica of "The Matthew" which is, docked in Bonnavista Newfoundland, whose name was found from older records of his explorations and journeys seeking the spices from the far east which also too helped him become a good navigator.

My son's name also is Matthew so it does hold some significance to me. I find it amazing being in places where old explorers have been and like to imagine what it must have been like seeing these lands for the first time. What a thrill and sense of accomplishment I presume, not to mention hopes of prosperity and wealth.
A year after his discovery of Bonnavista in NL Cabot set out on another journey but was never to return to his wife and three children. There is much speculation on what may have happened. Some say he was lost at sea, and others say he was killed by natives of the time while others say he just settled somewhere along his route. Whatever happened, he has left an indelible mark on the history of this province and this nation as a whole.
The MAtthew was a caravel, a small maneuverable, two or three masted lateen rigged (triangular sail)ship created and used by the Portugese and used as well by the Spanish for long voyages of explorartion in the 15th century. It was preferred because they could travel up river in shallow waters even at 50 tons as their load capacity was smaller than vessels like the (nau) or carrack which was bigger. Initially the Portugese used the carrack to explore the African coast and these full rigged square sailed ships could not always be sailed with precision needed for inshore navigable waters and navigating the waters around Bonnavista must have been a challenge for the sailors of The Matthew as the shoaling and reefs in the area could reek havoc from strong northerlies or easterlies and any combination thereof. Fun in a kayak though. ;-)

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