The first hardship that the Mayflower experienced was that her sister ship, the Speedwell, developed serious mechanical problems and had to turn back to England. The Speedwell was the passenger ship, so the Mayflower, designed to carry freight, had to be hastily refitted for the passengers. It was not comfortable; quarters were tight and some freight had to be left behind. Once underway, the Mayflower encountered rough seas and storms and began to leak; a main beam was also damaged. The anxiety and fear must have been very difficult for the crew and passengers. Because the voyage had been delayed, the weather was quite cold, and ultimately, the ship had to land in Massachusetts where there was no established colony or homes, instead of their intended destination, Virginia.
The first winter was brutal. They had to use what they had at hand to build crude shelter. There was constant fear of Indian attacks. Food was scarce and disease and exposure claimed about half the colony. In the spring, the arrival of Samoset, Massasoit, and Squanto brought peaceful negotiation and help in adapting to the climate. The survivors learned, with the help of Squanto, how to plant, hunt, fish, and utilize what the surroundings offered.