The original Half Moon (Halve Maen) was commissioned on March 25, 1609, for the Dutch East India Company. She was a ship of exploration and the spaceship of her age, designed to take a crew of twenty into unknown and uncharted waters. Her captain, Henry Hudson, was already a famous explorer of Arctic waters when in 1608 he was hired by the Dutch East India Company to find a Northeast, all-water route to Asia. But only a month out of port, the Dutch/English crew of his ship was disheartened after their passage north of Norway was blocked by Arctic ice flow. Many talked of mutiny. Sitting in his cabin, the concerned captain considered his dilemma and options. A compromise was made. The course was changed and what was a search for a Northeast passage became a transatlantic crossing to search for a Northwest passage to the rich spice trade of China. Of course, some think that Hudson s intention all along was to go Northwest. After reaching the Maine coast and replacing a foremast lost in rough storms during her Atlantic crossing, the Half Moon sailed southward as far as present day North Carolina Outer Banks. Then, turning northward, Hudson explored the Delaware Bay before arriving at the mouth of a wide river. Could this be a passage to the Pacific Ocean?
' Hudson stopped at points on the New Jersey coast before sailing the small ship up the river which today bears the Captain's name-the Hudson River. But it was soon obvious that it was an inland river, not a westward passage. Hudson sailed upriver to present day Albany before returning down river. It would be many years before the significance of Hudson's 1609 voyage to America would be understood and the Half Moon recognized as one of the best known ships of exploration. Hudson´s voyage had important consequences. In making this historic journey, Hudson claimed the region for the Dutch and opened the land for the settlers who followed. Hudson's voyage, nearly ten years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, led to the establishment, in 1614, of the Dutch trading post, Fort Nassau, at present day Albany, New York. The first European settlements in the States of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania were built by the Dutch beginning in 1624 and formed the Dutch colony of New NetherLands, or Nieuw Nederland. By the end of the 17th century, all of New Netherlands had become the possession of the British crown. Yet the maps of the region still reflect the original Dutch settlements. Brooklyn, Hoboken, Block Island and hundreds more places take their names from the first Dutch colonists. These names hint at the early Dutch role in establishing our nation, an involvement that continued through to the American Revolution.