The Mayflower Cargo Ship: A Perfect Example of Logistics


They were called “The Merchant Adventurers”, a group of English traders who decided to finance the Mayflower voyage. They hoped to take advantage of the fur trade, fishing and any other trade they could come up with. They saw the opportunity and although they did not get the reward they sought, they made history: the arrival of the first settlers to America. This is the story of the Mayflower cargo ship: a perfect example of logistics.

The Mayflower crossed the seas as a cargo ship, making its first voyage to Norway for a shipment of herring, followed by shipments of French wine, cognac, Spanish salt, vinegar, and wool. It was a typical 17th century merchant ship registered in 1609. It ran the usual European trade routes of the time, so it was heavily armed.  In those days, cargo ships faced much danger at sea and the risk of being attacked by pirates, the Spanish, or the French, was quite high.

In 1620, the Mayflower was contracted to take the pilgrims to North Virginia. It would be the first transoceanic voyage for the ship and its crew. After two failed attempts, the third time was a charm, and it set out on September 6 from Plymouth, England. On board were 102 passengers of British and Dutch origin.

The Mayflower became a perfect example of logistics: how to organize these 102 passengers and the additional 50 crewmen, what provisions to take on such a long and uncertain journey, what to take along for starting a new life in an inhospitable land.

The following graph shows the cargo distribution on the Mayflower:



Gun Deck:  Passengers were crammed into this level where the cannons and artillery were stored. The dimensions were small; nevertheless, they managed to establish some privacy by devising rustic divisions.

 Cargo Hold:  Storage for all provisions:

Food and drink: Biscuits, beer, salt, (dried) beef, salt pork, oats, peas, wheat, butter, sweet oil, mustard seed, ling or cod fish, “good cheese”, vinegar, aqua-vitae, rice, bacon, cider.

Clothing and linens.


Kitchen utensils and different tools.

After 66 days at sea, the Mayflower landed at Cape Cod.  The passengers and crew endured a harsh winter for which they barely had a chance to build houses. As a result, most of the passengers had to spend the winter aboard the Mayflower. When spring arrived, the Mayflower sailed back to England, arriving May 9, 1621. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been in those days load this cargo ship and sail for 2 months? Nowadays, it is much easier with iContainers. You can do everything about your ocean freight online!

The Mayflower’s last known voyage was a shipment of salt to La Rochelle in the autumn of that year. Historians lost track of it after that. Legend has it that a barn was built using its salvaged wood in Jordans, England. Fact or fiction, the Mayflower Barn, as it is known, has become an interesting tourist attraction.

The Mayflower is history, but it sailed what would later become one of the most important trade routes in the world, a journey that now takes only 10 days and can be followed in real time. Did you know that if you register on our site, you can access the vessel tracking service, so you’ll always know where your cargo is?

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