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Godspeed brings colonial history back to life

Saturday - 10/8/2011, 3:58pm  ET

The Godspeed is one of three ships that brought America's first colonists to Virginia in 1607. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Kathy Stewart, wtop

WASHINGTON -- Here's your chance to step back in time and learn a little history -- colonial history, that is.

A re-creation of the Godspeed ship -- one of three that brought America's first colonists to Virginia in 1607 -- is anchored along the Old Town Alexandria waterfront near Founders Park. Since Thursday, Captain Eric Speth and his crew have been giving free tours to local school children and to the public.

"The Godspeed serves as a floating classroom, if you will," he says.

About 1,200 students from Alexandria City schools got a taste of colonial history last week as they toured the nautical replica. The walk through history continued Saturday as the captain welcomed guests aboard his ship.

Experts believe the vessel carried about 52 people on the voyage to Jamestown, North America's first permanent English settlement.

Speth, who has been working at Jamestown for 20 years, says the trip probably lasted about four and a half months. The 39 passengers were treated as cargo and squeezed into the cargo hold for 144 days.

Despite the dismal accommodations, Speth says ships like the Godspeed were the "highest form of technology" in their day.

"This was almost like being on the space shuttle today," he says.

Sunday is the last day to hop aboard from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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