In 1609, the Dutch East India Company was determined to find a shorter route between the Netherlands and the East Indies, and put together an expedition to try and locate the Northwest Passage through the Americas. They chose Henry Hudson to head the expedition. Hudson was recently fired by the Russian government for failing to discover a viable route to India through the Arctic.

For his journey, the Dutch East India Company selected the Halve Maen (Half Moon), a flat-bottomed wooden exploration ship, which was built in 1608. It was designed for coastal navigation, which made it ideal for this expedition. It was about 80 feet in length, had a cargo capacity of 80 tons, and had room for several cannons on deck.

Hudson set sail in the Halve Maen on March 25, 1609. On this trip, Hudson would discover the North (Hudson) and South (Delaware) Rivers, sailing up the North as far as present-day Albany. He also explored large chunks of the Atlantic coast and Chesapeake Bay. He left New York Harbor on October 4 1609, and made it to Dartmouth, England in 33 days. Upon his arrival, he and other Englishman on the crew were immediately arrested for sailing under a foreign flag. The Halve Maen was put up in port at Dartmouth, and remained there well after Hudson was released and went out on another expedition. Eventually, the boat was returned to the Dutch East India Company

The Halve Maen was reassigned to the East Indies, and it is here that the fortune of the boat becomes unclear, as there are a few conflicting reports. It was wrecked off Mauritius in the same year, or sunk off Sumatra in 1616, or burned at Sumatra by the British in 1618.

Two replicas of the Halve Maen have been built. The first was made in the Netherlands in 1909 for the 300th anniversary of its voyage in New York. It was built in the Royal ShipYards in Amsterdam, the transported to New York by cargo ship. Even though the replica could have sailed the Atlantic the same as the original, it was transported to reduce operating costs. It participated in the 1909 Hudson-Fulton Celebration by sailing from New York to Albany, in commemoration of the same trip Hudson had made three centuries before.

The second was built in Albany, New York for the New Nederland Festival in 1989. It was constructed using both old and new shipbuilding techniques. Plans are underway to build the New Nederland Museum in Albany, which would give the Halve Maen a permanent docking location. The ship's current home is at King Marine in Verplanck, New York.

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