Making the Mayflower II seaworthy

Readers of The Day have been able to follow the restoration of Plimoth Plantation’s Mayflower II by Mystic Seaport Museum since the early survey visits in 2015 and 2016, through to the re-launch in September of 2019, to the present day.

Photojournalist Sean Elliot documented the restoration of the last wooden whaleship Charles W. Morgan by the staff at the museum’s H.B. duPont Preservation Shipyard from 2008 to 2014. The Morgan had barely returned to its home berth at Chubbs Wharf when Mayflower II arrived at the shipyard to begin the process of restoration by the shipwrights there.

Many of the same workers who had just seen six years of work on the Morgan come to fruition with the epic 38th Voyage would take the lead on restoration of the Mayflower II.

Elliot would return again and again during the work. First to document the initial survey efforts aimed at determining the amount of work that it would take to return Mayflower II to sailing condition in time for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in Cape Cod Bay.

Once Mayflower II returned in the fall of 2016 to begin a 30-month restoration, readers could see updates in the pages of The Day, with extra photos online, every two to three months, showing everything from the bracing of the vessel on a steel framework to the assembly of a fabric tent over the worksite to allow work to continue through four seasons.

Over the course of the restoration, The Day’s readers saw the planking removed, the vessel’s timber frames replaced, the decking restored or replaced, and, finally, in July of 2019 the launching ceremony. Mayflower II will remain in Mystic this winter before sea trials in Fishers Island Sound in the spring and departure for festivities in Boston and Cape Cod in the summer of 2020.

Mayflower II was built from 1955-1956 in England as a replica of the famous vessel that brought the Pilgrim’s to the New World in 1620. The ship was sailed across the Atlantic in 1957 by famed sailor Alan Villiers and gifted to the United States, to be maintained by Plimoth Plantation, in gratitude for American support of Great Britain in WWII.

Key Mayflower II dates

1955-56: Mayflower II built in England

1957: Mayflower II sailed across the Atlantic

December 2014: Mayflower II comes to Mystic Seaport Museum for first time.

May 2015: Mayflower II returned to Plymouth for summer.

December 2105: Second survey visit to Mystic.

May 2016: Mayflower II returns to Plymouth.

Nov. 2, 2016: Mayflower II arrives in Seaport to begin 30-month restoration.

Nov. 18, 2016: Mayflower hauled out of water.

Jan. 3, 2017: Steel support structure erected.

March 2017: Fabric-covered steel structure installed over work area.

Feb. 6, 2018: Garboard Plank installed.

Nov. 4, 2018: Shutter, or Whisky, Plank installed.

Sept. 7, 2019: Re-launch

Sept. 24, 2019: Masts stepped


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