Sarah Ballance: On Board the Elizabeth II (Roanoke Island, NC)

posted in: Sarah Ballance | 18

The first explorers who crossed the Atlantic in search of the New World were…crazy. Want to know how I know this? Because I’ve been on this bathtub toy ship on which they crossed the ocean. Growing up near Virginia’s “historic triangle” I have had the pleasure of “exploring” (a cursory tour takes five minutes) a number of replica ships, so I feel fairly confident in saying what you see here is very much the norm for the intrepid sailors of yesteryear, but what stands out about this particular ship–the Elizabeth II–is that after these brave souls made the commute in 1585, they disappeared. Gone. POOF. More than 400 years later, we still have no clue what happened to history’s Lost Colony, but you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for how crazy daring were these first English settlers with a tour of the Elizabeth II replica ship.


The 1585 Elizabeth II replica ship docked on Roanoke Island (Manteo, NC)


A closer view of the 69-foot-long Elizabeth II replica ship. What you see here? It’s a full third of the boat. *bites nails*


The cooking area on board the Elizabeth II.


The dining area on board the Elizabeth II.


Crossing the Atlantic required a crew of about 30 and took approximately 92 days. In the background you can see the bridge from Manteo to Roanoke Island.


A peek into quarters below deck.


The so-called weather deck…because there’s where the weather was.


This is pretty much the entire ship, and it crossed the ocean. ERMAGERD.


The length of the ship “below decks.” Don’t let the light fool you…these areas were typically kept closed so the ship would not take on water and sink.


These beds had handy storage areas underneath, and the vast Atlantic ocean just on the other side of that wooden wall. Sweet dreams?

For more on the Elizabeth II and the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, please click here.

All photos were taken by Sarah Ballance, who fortunately has not quit her day job. If you’d visit another one of history’s most terrifying spots (because that boat in the middle of the Atlantic is completely terrifying, is it not?) check out her Sins of Salem series of Salem witch trials historical romance. 


Sarah Ballance is a multi-published author of contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense. She’s been married to her own romantic hero for what he calls a “long, long time” (and no, he’ll never hear the end of saying that). Together they have six children … and clearly too much time on their hands. She currently writes for Entangled and has upcoming releases from both Entangled and Samhain Publishing. Click here to see other posts by Sarah Ballance.

18 Responses

  1. allybroadfield

    This looks a lot like the ships at Jamestown Settlement, and yes, very scary! Fun post, Sarah!

    • sarahballance

      It sure does! And when I first saw one of those (around the age of 8) I thought THEY were crazy. Erm, brave. Yes, that it’s it. LOL. Thanks, Ally!

  2. Sandra Owens

    You take great pictures, Sarah. I’d love to tour the ship, but cross the ocean in it???? Not even. 🙂

    • sarahballance

      Thank you, Sandra! I took these with my cell phone, so I’m particularly glad you like them. 🙂 We have a 30′ boat with a cabin that is MADE for the ocean (deep sea fishing) and I’m terrified to take it out of sight of land…and we have all the modern conveniences. I would SO not have gotten to this continent on my own in the 15/1600s!

  3. Victoria Vane

    LOVED the pictures, Sarah! I agree, these people were crazy. And how on earth did they every navigate accurately. It amazes me.

    • sarahballance

      It is absolutely mind blowing. I cannot fathom how they managed to come back to the same place multiple times. When I swim in the ocean it takes me forever to find the lifeguard stand nearest where I started because the current has dragged me away. No way I could cross the ocean and manage to find the same spot, LOL!

  4. ginaconkle2013

    Hi Sarah,
    Did I miss the shower room picture? 🙂 Great post. I love history and those souls were especially brave to cross the Atlantic. I can see why you love writing about that era. Will you continue to write about the early colonial period (since you’re winding down this series)?

    Thanks for this, Sarah. The pictures really made my stomach flip-flop thinking of the danger and seasickness. Oy!

    • sarahballance

      I think the showers are on the weather deck…you know, when it rains. LOL. I’m glad there are people out there willing to be brave because we’d all be in trouble waiting on me! 🙂

      I’m not sure what my next historical setting will be. I’m going to do some palate cleansing on a contemporary, but I do have a Revolutionary War series plotted I might one day pursue. I also have another plot that can happen in any one of several eras and I’ve yet to choose. The interesting (nagging, lol) thing about historical fiction is you do so much research you almost feel like you owe it to yourself to write another one!

  5. Violetta Rand (@ViolettaRand)

    Love the pictures, Sarah. I can’t imagine braving the ocean and being cloistered with all those bodies in that small space. Wow. Lots to learn from people back then.

    • sarahballance

      Very true. Our 30′ boat seems small with all eight of us in it, and there’s just no comparison. They didn’t even have internet back then, LOL! 🙂

  6. Barbara Monajem

    I once toured a replica of one of Columbus’ ships. Crazy!!

    • sarahballance

      What’s even crazier is they didn’t know then what we know now and we still wouldn’t get out there! Of course, I guess these ships seemed large at the time, but I bet the ocean did as well! LOL.