Perhaps the most frightening experience of the voyage occurred not long after the Mayflower passed the halfway mark. In a particularly violent storm, she was rolling so far over on her sides that the Pilgrims must have feared she might shift her cargo and go all the way over. We can imagine what it must have been like to be in that ‘tween-decks space, with little children screaming, and the sole lantern swinging so far to either side that it seemed almost parallel to the overhead beams. Suddenly a tremendous boom resounded throughout the ship. The huge cross-beam supporting the mainmast had cracked and was sagging alarmingly. Now for the first time, the sailors’ concern matched the Pilgrims’. They swarmed about it, trying to lever it back into place, but they could not budge it. The captain himself came to see. From the look on his face, it was obvious to the Pilgrims that the situation was indeed as serious as they had feared.
The Pilgrims prayed
The Pilgrims helped in the only way they knew. They prayed, “Yet Lord, thou canst save!” Then Brewster remembered the great iron screw of his printing press. It was on board somewhere. A desperate search was begun. Finally, it was located, dugout, hauled into place and cranked up. It met the beam and, to the accompaniment of a hideous creaking and groaning of wood, began to raise it—all the way back to its original position. For once, sailors joined the Pilgrims in their praises of God!