When traveling through uncharted waters, one of the most basic questions a ship's crew needs to be able to answer is also one of the most important: How deep is the water? In fact, as Juet's journal entries show, Captain Hudson and his crew repeatedly faced the danger of running aground while exploring the river that would later bear his name.
When in doubt, we take soundings (measure the water's depth) with the same tool Hudson's crew would have used: a lead line (or sounding line). Flags attached to the lead line mark depth in 6-foot increments (fathoms). The Half Moon has a draft of 8-1/2 feet (extending that far underwater), so it needs at least a fathom and a half of water to stay clear of the bottom.
Monitoring water depth is just as important for us on board the Replica Ship Half Moon. Of course, in 21st century the Connecticut River has been throughly charted and (unlike Captain Hudson) we have experience navigating this river, but that doesn't mean there are no uncharted waters for us to explore. On this voyage, we moored at the Goodspeed Opera House dock for the first time. The evening before we arrived, we sent a scouting party to sound the dock with a lead line, and discovered that the water was just deep enough for the ship's draft.
In addition, once the ship arrived the next day, we temporarily installed a depth finder to mark the tidal changes until our arrival, less out of scientific curiosity and more out of practical necessity! We're glad to say, however, that in the end the Goodspeed Opera House dock was indeed deep enough to safely house our ship.