The first thirty lines of 'The Sot Weed Factor" detail a journey, a journey to America. Cooke's protagonist arrives by boat in Maryland. He tells of the arduous trip: how the waves were extreme in the ocean, how the sails and masts bore extreme wear and tear, and how worried the passengers were.
From what I have read of this poem, it reminds me of the journey of the pilgrims from England. They suffered a long and trying trip over the ocean in order to reach America, "the promised land." They were looking for a better life here, much as I expect Cooke's protagonist and his fellow travelers were. Also similar, both groups were looking to make money in agriculture. The sot weed factor of course is dealing in tobacco. Tobacco was an extremely profittable market in the past and still is today. While the English immigrants take credit for it, they did not originally have that idea. The indians were the first to pick tobacco leaves and smoke them. As I read this, I thought about how scared I would have been if it had been me arriving to a new country where I did not know a soul. I would have been terrified to just start over and have a brand new life the way the protagonist did in this poem. I admire the courage and audacity it took to do something like that.