Explorers and early colonists came to New England in relatively small vessels. Most were less than 100 feet long, and some less than 50 feet. Vessels over about 60 feet had three masts and square sailsSquare sail
A trapezoidal-shaped sail laced to yards on square-rigged ships., while smaller ones were two-masters. The upper deck often leaked, the galleyGalley
The kitchen on board a vessel. was primitive, and drinking water was hard to keep. On long voyages, poor diet contributed to scurvyScurvy
A disease marked by spongy gums, loosening teeth, and bleeding into the skin and mucous membranes, caused by lack of vitamin C. among the crew and passengers.
Although European fishermen and explorers had been venturing to North America for several centuries, the first settlers may have expected a warmer climate. The winter of 1604-5 almost wiped out the first French colonial attempt at St. Croix.
Maine is at about 44º North latitude, which, on the European coast corresponds to the southern coast of France. Searsport is south of Bordeaux, France. London is at 51½º North latitude. Until close to the end of the 18th century, no one knew the tremendous influence of the Gulf StreamGulf Stream
A warm ocean current flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, along the east coast of the U.S., to the southeast coast of Newfoundland, where it forms the western edge of the North Atlantic Current. Benjamin Franklin published the first map showing the location of the Gulf Stream in 1770.
Read more on European climate.