Giles Hopkins & Captain Michael Campbell: Stories At Sea - January 29, 2020

Submitted by Giles Hopkins on Wed, 01/29/2020 - 11:55
captain with giles
painting of christopher jones
velma lykes
nancy lykes ship
mayflower painting
map of china


Giles Hopkins:  Good morning, Captain Campbell!  Did you know that for almost fifteen years before the Pilgrims made their now famous voyage on the Mayflower, the ship transported cargo between European ports.   

Captain Campbell:  That’s one thing that the TS Kennedy and the Mayflower have in common, Giles.  The TS Kennedy was a cargo ship long before it became a training ship for Massachusetts Maritime Academy cadets.  At the time, her name was Velma Lykes.   The cargo included food, cotton, machinery, consumer items, and industrial chemicals.   The Velma Lykes traveled from ports within the Gulf Of Mexico to locations such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines

Giles Hopkins:  Wow!  The Velma Lykes was certainly well-traveled!  The Mayflower’s cargo routes were short by comparison.  The first documented trip of the Mayflower was eleven years before the Pilgrims departed – 1609.  The ship was hired to transport goods from London to Norway, including hats, hemp, Spanish salt, hops, vinegar, and wine.  Everything went relatively for the first leg of the trip. The cargo from London was unloaded, sold, and lumber, tar, and fish were purchased to bring back to London.  On the return, however, Mayflower met up with a fierce North Sea storm.  To lighten the load, the Master and his crew threw some previsions and cargo overboard.  That’s right, they tossed an iron pot and between eighty and one-hundred pine boards. Imagine being Master Jones and having to explain to the man that hired you, Andrew Pawling that some of the cargo that he was expecting is now in the ocean! 

Following that harrowing experience, I bet Master Christopher Jones preferred safer, more established trading routes.    I have heard that Mayflower often sailed to and from Bordeaux, France.  The distance from London to Bordeaux is about 3,000 nautical miles.  The ship brought French wine, Cognac, salt, cloth, and vinegar back to London.  Cognac is a high-quality brandy distilled in western France. 

Although historians cannot confirm this with a primary source document, literature refers to Mayflower as a “sweet ship.  They claim that spilled wine had soaked into the boards, giving off a pleasant, sweet aroma.

Captain Campbell:  I am sure that the sweet smell was soon difficult to detect once passengers replaced the cargo. 

I haven’t heard many stories about the early days of the Velma Lykes, but I do know that in October 1979, the Velma Lykes marked the first time that a U.S. flagged ship visited the Chinese port of Whampoa since the Chinese communist revolution.   Pretty impressive!

It had been thirty years since a U.S. ship had arrived in the port.  The Velma Lykes, along with the Genevieve Lykes, the Nancy Lykes, and the Ruth Lykes delivered American goods.  Whampoa served as the port for the inland city of CantonCanton is now known as Guangzhou.

Giles Hopkins:  The Mayflower and the TS Kennedy each had impressive pasts! The Mayflower’s voyage with the Pilgrims was said to be the first trans-Atlantic voyage for both Mayflower and Master Jones

Captain Campbell:  How old was Master Jones when he was hired to take the Pilgrims to Northern Virginia

Giles Hopkins:  I believe that Master Jones was about fifty when he sailed across the Atlantic with the Pilgrims.  You’ll notice that I refer to him as Master Jones, not Captain Jones.  In 1620, the term Captain was only used on military ships. 

Master Jones was the father of nine children.  One of his children was born while he was in New England.

Captain Campbell:  Well, there are two  more similarities!  I was about fifty years old when I became the Master of the TS Kennedy in 2016.  Like Although I do not have as many children as Master Jones, I do have a large family.   

Giles Hopkins: Let's add an additional similarity.  Christopher Jones also had a beard.

I am sure that Master Jones had trouble saying good-bye to his six-year-old son, Christopher. 

Captain Campbell:  Well, there’s another similarity!  I had to say good-bye to my six-year old son when Sea Term 2020 began…and his name is Christian.  Although their names are not exact, they are similar. 

My son will turn seven on February 9th.  Unlike Master Jones, however, I am able to be in daily contact with Christian and the rest of my family back home. 

Giles Hopkins:  Do you like dogs? Passenger John Goodman is often credited with bringing two dogs on the Mayflower - a Mastiff and a spaniel.  The truth is, historians do not know exactly who the dogs belonged to.  Mastiffs were a popular working breed.  The Mastiff was mostly brought along for protection.  He probably wanted to be prepared if he encountered wild animals or needed to scare off other people.   The spaniel may have been chosen to be a hunting companion. 

The Mastiff and the spaniel were with John Goodman and Peter Browne got lost in the woods. 

I have been told that there was at least one cat on the Mayflower – probably more   Cats were referred to as “mousers” because their job was to catch and kill mice and rats on the ship. 

Although the children on the Mayflower had plenty of free time, I am sorry to say that they probably couldn’t play with the dogs and cats.  The dogs were considered work animals.  The “mousers” were feral cats that lived on their own outside or on ships.  Feral cats avoid human contact and can be quite aggressive.  Definitely not  appropriate playmates for children. 

Captain Campbell:  My family and I own four dogs, some kittens, and a variety of other pets. 

Giles Hopkins:  I am glad that you are an animal lover, Captain Campbell!  This week, cadets have been sharing stories about their pets back at home.  Have you ever thought of bringing dogs and cats on the TS Kennedy during Sea Term? 

 Captain CampbellThere are no pets on the TS Kennedy and it will stay that way.  It is important to remember that this is a training ship.  Our cadets are preparing for careers at sea.  Having dogs and cats on board would serve as a distraction.  That would compromise the safety of everyone on the ship – and take away from the learning.  Fortunately, we do not need for a “mouser” to catch mice and rats on the TS Kennedy.

Giles Hopkins:  I can certainly see that your mind is made up.  I respect that. 

Until next week, Captain Campbell!​​​​



captain with dog
This is one of Captain Campbell's dogs.

cat in box
This is one of Captain Campbell's "mousers".

two cats in laundry basket
book about mayflower dogs
dogs on the mayflower book