Matthew Lickona 2:43 p.m., June 19
The storm and shipwreck in Shakespeare's The Tempest came from his creative alchemy. There is, however, a possible source that may have helped inspire the play.
In 1607, the Virginia Company built the Sea Venture, the first ship designed for emigration to the New World. It wasn't the Titanic, especially the cramped, anything-but-swank accommodations. But its maiden voyage shares similarities.
The Sea Venture sailed from Plymouth, England in 1609. The flagship to a seven-ship fleet, it carried 140 passengers to Jamestown, Virginia - for the "third supply" of colonists.
Within seven days of the Virginia coast, writes William Strachey, "a dreadful storm and hideous began to blow from...the northeast; Swelling and roaring at length did beat all light from Heaven." The skies, "like an hell of darkness, burned black upon us.
"Terrible cries, murmurs, and prayers drowned in the howling winds." Even those "most armed and best prepared" were "not a little shaken....There was not a moment in which the sudden splitting or instant oversetting of the ship was not expected."
The admiral, Sir George Somers, climbed out of the flood below-decks. He said he wanted to die in the company of old friends.
The hurricane swept the fleet toward "the most dangerous and dreaded" islands of Bermuda.
Before any mention of a Bermuda Triangle, the archipelago had a reputation for tempests. "They are feared and avoided of all sea travelers alive above any other place in the world," writes Strachey. It was said the deserted islands had "devils and wicked spirits."
As the other ships sailed on, Somers had to ram the crumbling Sea Venture into a reef, the closer to shore the better.
For the next nine months, the passengers were stranded - and given up for lost. During that time, "at the bottom of misery," life went on: births, marriages, five deaths, crimes, even a conspiracy. At the trial, one of the conspirators pled his case so eloquently (his family couldn't make it without him) that Somers, with the consent of the group (and like Prospero in The Tempest) forgave him.
The survivors sailed away in two pinnaces - small craft built from the wood and hatches of the Sea Venture. They reached Jamestown on May 23, 1610.