Centuries before skyscrapers or stately homes defined New York City and the Hudson River, New York had
a weatherman, or at least, a weather observer. His name was Robert Juet of Limehouse, England, and he was
aboard Henry Hudson's ship Half Moon on its third voyage of discovery in 1609.
Henry Hudson's third voyage was not Juet's first sailing under Hudson nor his last. The 51-year-old mariner
had served as first mate on Hudson's second voyage and would again on his fourth. However, Juet's exact
role on the third voyage is unknown, particularly since Hudson had labelled him earlier as a man "filled with
In early 1609, the Dutch East India Company had commissioned the Englishman Hudson to search for the
illusive northern passage to the Orient by heading east over Scandinavia, the Northeast Passage. In early
April, Hudson took the Half Moon (Halve Maen) and its crew of twenty out of Holland. The crew was half
English and half Dutch, even though Hudson did not speak Dutch and few of the Dutch seamen spoke
English. And it appears the Dutch crewmen were more accustomed to sailing in warm and temperate waters
than the Arctic waters on which they would first sail.
Mid-May found the Half Moon off the coast of Norway battling high seas, ice and wind. As the harsh Arctic
head winds battered the ship, the sailors grumbled about the continual fog, cold, and ice. After a fortnight of
poor sailing conditions, Hudson realizes it would be impossible to even reach Novaya Zemlya, the Arctic
island whose coast he had reached in his second voyage.
By now, the crew was restless, seasick, and fighting amongst themselves. Juet saw this as a chance to stir the
crew against the captain and apparently lead a mutiny. Unexpectedly, Hudson capitulated and turned the Half
Moon around, headed for the New World. Was Henry Hudson a poor captain or just using the incident to
advantage? Although his charge by the Dutch East India Company was to find a Northeast Passage, Hudson
seems to have been more interested in the possibility of a Northwest Passage.
Travel through the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic Ocean waters was anything but calm for the Half Moon
and her crew. Juet's journals tell of many storms, the worst tossing the vessel on May 26th in the waters
northeast of the Faroe Islands. Passages from that journal are given below as the voyage unfurls along the
By mid-June, bad weather again nearly spelled disaster.
June 15. The fifteenth, we had a great storm, and spent [to spend the mast is understood to mean breaking it by foul
weather only.] over-board our fore-mast, bearing our fore corse low set. The sixteenth, we were forced to
trie with our main sail, by reason of the unconstant weather.
By July, the expedition is sailing along the North American coastal waters from Newfoundland down to the
New England coast. On July 12, the ship becomes trapped in a deep fog off Penobscot Bay, Maine for three
July 12.The twelfth, was very foggy, we stood our course all the morning till eleven of the clock; at which time we
had sight of the Land..and as we came near it, the fog was so thick that we could not see; so we stood off
But the weather takes a turn for the better in the North American summer, and on August 4, Hudson passes
Cape Cod which he initially names "New Holland," until he realizes Captain Gosnold had discovered the
land in 1602. Hudson sails on and discovers Delaware Bay.
Continuing southward, they reach Chesapeake Bay but winds and rain keep the ship out, and although they
arrive at the mouth of the King's River, which leads to Jamestown, no attempt is made to contact the colony.
Instead, the Half Moon turns north sailing close along the shoreline.
Friday, Aug. 28.Fair and hot weather, the wind at south-south-west.
August 29.Fair weather, with some thunder and showers, the wind shifting between the south-south-west, and the
In early-September, the Half-Moon enters the waters off Sandy Hook, then sails past Staten and Coney
Islands. There, Hudson encounters the mouth of a large river first discovered by Italian, Giovanni da
Verranzano, sailing for the French in 1524. French maps, sent to Hudson by Capt. John Smith, labelled it the
"Grande River." Hudson names the river: the "River of Mountains" As he sailed into its mouth, Hudson
claimed the area along the river which one day would bear his name for the Dutch, herein beginning
the first step toward the Dutch colonization of New Amsterdam, the first European settlement of New York.
Sept. 4.At night the wind blew hard at the north-west, and our anchor came home, and we drove on shore, but took
no hurt, thanked be God, for the ground is soft sand and ooze.
Hudson makes contact with the Native tribes, members of the Algonquin Nation, residing on the coast who
give Hudson gifts of tobacco and his first taste of American corn, which Hudson calls "Turkish wheat."
Sunday, Sept. 6. In the morning was fair weather,...The night came on and it began to rain...
As they explore the Hudson River, Juet reports continued fair and very hot weather. We can conjecture that
the hot weather was likely due to stagnant high pressure off the coast, the Bermuda High. No rain is observed
for the next two weeks as they sail northward beyond the site of present-day Troy.
Sept.11.Was fair and very hot weather...At one o'clock in the afternoon, we weighed and went into the river, the wind
at south-south-west, little wind. Sept. 12.Very fair and hot. Sept. 16.The sixteenth, fair and very hot weather. Sept. 17.The seventeenth fair sun-shining weather, and very hot. Sept. 21.The twenty-first was fair weather, and the wind all southerly: Sept. 22.This night at ten o'clock, our boat returned in a shower of rain from sounding of the river...
At noon of September 23, in air cleaned and cooled by the night's rain, the Half Moon started its return
journey down river. Again each day was filled with sun but the autumn winds were brisker.
Sunday, Sept. 27.The seven and twentieth, in the morning, was fair weather, but much wind at the north we weighed and set
our fore-topsail, and our ship would not float, but ran on the oozy bank at half ebb. Sept. 29.The nine and twentieth was dry close weather, the wind at south and south by west we weighed early in the
morning... Sept. 30.The thirtieth was fair weather, and the wind at south-east a stiff gale between the mountains. Thursday, Oct. 1.The first of October, fair weather, the wind variable between west and the north.
Conditions changed dramatically as they left the river in early October. A severe storm struck the ship in the
waters between Hoboken and Manhattan.
Oct. 3.The third was very stormy, the wind at east north- east. In the morning, in a gust of wind and rain, our
anchor came home, and we drove on ground, but it was oozy. Then as we were about to heave out an anchor,
the wind came to the north north-west, and drove us off again. Then we shot an anchor, and let it fall in four
fathoms water, and weighed the other. We had much wind and rain with thick weather, so we rode still all
The storm, either a nor'easter or a small hurricane, which moved by quickly, allowing the Half Moon to clear
Sandy Hook and re-enter the Atlantic, homeward bound.
Oct. 4.The fourth was fair weather, and the wind at north north-west we weighed and came out of the river, into
which we had run so far.
Returning to European waters in early November, the Half Moon lands at Dartmouth, England rather than
Holland. Hudson is caught for several months within the international rivalry between England and Holland
over exploration and trade routes. An Order in Council censures Hudson for "voyaging to the detriment of his
country" and forbids him to undertake any foreign service or to correspond with the East India Company.
Hudson and the English members of his crew never returned to Amsterdam, though the Half Moon is
returned in 1610.
The story of Henry Hudson and Robert Juet, however, was not yet over, and it would have a tragic end.
Hudson managed to drum up support from English backers to undertake another voyage, this time to search
for a Northwest Passage.
While on his fourth voyage, Hudson's ship, the Discovery, entered the great bay now known as Hudson's
Bay. There, in 1611, Juet again participated in a mutiny against Hudson. Hudson and his son were placed in a
small boat without provisions and set adrift somewhere in the middle of James Bay. Their fate is forever
unknown. And, days before the Discovery crew sighted land on the return voyage, Juet died of starvation.
Robert Juet's journal, published posthumously in 1625, provides descriptive information on his voyages with
Hudson and likely influenced the naming of the great river and Arctic Bay after Henry Hudson.
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