The intended destination was an area near the Hudson River, in "North Virginia". However the ship was forced far off-course by inclement weather and drifted well north of the intended Virginia settlement. As a result of the delay, the settlers did not arrive in Cape Cod until after the onset of a harsh New England winter. The settlers ultimately failed to reach Virginia where they had already obtained permission from the London Company to settle, due to difficulties navigating the treacherous waters off the southeast corner of Cape Cod.
To establish legal order and to quell increasing strife within the ranks, the settlers wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact after the ship dropped anchor at the tip of Cape Cod on November 11/21, in what is now Provincetown Harbor.