You would think the Mayflower was a small rickety ship by reading the Pilgrims’ accounts of the voyage.
However, they weren’t familiar with the nautical life, so they were not accustomed to the hardships.
Thinking their lives were always in constant danger, their journals reflect a much more harrowing journey than it probably seemed to the more experienced crew and passengers.
As to size, the Mayflower was actually pretty big. We know she was referred to as an “180-tun” ship. A tun is a large barrel or cask, able to carry about 265 gallons.
That meant that the Mayflower could transport 180 full barrels in the hold area of the ship. Based on this, historians estimate that the ship had a length of about 90 feet.
Although the landlubber Pilgrims were convinced that the Mayflower was falling apart, in actuality she was unusually seaworthy. For 12 years prior she’d been sailing the North seas-the roughest sailing seas in the world-between Spain, France, the Scandinavian countries, and probably Italy as well.
A main beam did crack during a storm on the voyage, but the Pilgrims were traveling at one of the worst times of the year for storms, and the ship weathered even that well enough.
The fact is that the Mayflower was a tough ship that managed to survive storm after storm on the crossing, making the voyage in good time.
On her return trip in the following spring, traveling with the prevailing winds, she made the trip in less than half the time it took to initially get across the Atlantic: 31 days.