PLYMOUTH – An extensive restoration project on the Mayflower II is set to begin.
The entire restoration of the 57-year-old wooden ship is scheduled for completion prior to 2020-–the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival.
The ship departs Plymouth harbor today, bound for the Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, where the restoration work will take place.
The ship will depart Plymouth harbor 2:15 p.m., being pulled by the tugboat, Jaguar.
If weather permits, the journey will take three days with an overnight stay in New Bedford Friday. On Saturday the ship is scheduled to travel to New London, Connecticut with an overnight stay.
The journey will end on Sunday when Mayflower II arrives in Mystic, Connecticut on the high tide.
The restoration is a collaborative project between Plimoth Plantation and Mystic Seaport.
The Mayflower II is a full-scale reproduction ship owned by Plimoth Plantation. Work on the ship will take place at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport, adhering to The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Vessel Preservation Projects.
A restoration plan will be established in conjunction with Plimoth Plantation’s Maritime Artisans Program, led by the museum’s newly-hired Associate Director for Maritime Preservation and Operations, Whit Perry.
Work will begin in December on a multi-year phased restoration plan, honoring the ship’s original construction and using traditional methods with the goal of restoring the ship to her original state when she first arrived to Plymouth in 1957. Inspections in 2013 revealed that Mayflower II is in need of a major refit, which is normal for a nearly 60-year-old wooden ship.
Recently, Plimoth Plantation completed some major repairs to secure a safe condition for the ship to continue operations on the Plymouth waterfront. These efforts were the initial steps toward addressing the long-term restoration plan.
Upon the ship’s arrival at Mystic Seaport, the restoration plan will begin following three phases: survey, document, and restore.
A comprehensive marine survey will be completed by Paul Haley of Capt. G.W. Full & Associates, the same firm that surveyed several vintage vessels including the Mystic Seaport flagship Charles W. Morgan, the USS Constitution, the USS Constellation, and many additional projects within the tall ship community.
Stone and iron ballast will be completely removed for the first time since the ship’s construction nearly 60 years ago, to allow proper inspection of the bilge area. The scope and plan for this winter’s restoration work will largely be determined by the needs identified once the ship is out of the water and the ballast is removed.
Mystic Seaport is the Nation’s leading maritime museum with vast restoration experience and knowledge of historic wooden vessels. The Museum recently completed the restoration of its 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, a National Historic Landmark vessel and America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat. The Morgan sailed on her historic 38th Voyage this past summer.
“Part of our mission at Mystic Seaport is to pass on the skills and techniques of traditional shipbuilding and historic preservation to the next generation, and projects such as this enable us to fulfill that goal while at the same time supporting an important member of the history museum community,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to help restore Mayflower II, so she can continue to tell the story of the Pilgrims and their brave journey to America.”
The ship is a major exhibit of Plimoth Plantation and a leading tourism attraction in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, drawing millions of people from around the world to Plymouth’s waterfront to learn about the United States’ early Colonial history.
“Mystic Seaport is the clear choice for restoring Mayflower II. She will be in good hands with the Museum’s skilled craftspeople and shipwrights. The staff and boards of both museums share pride in this collaboration and profound respect for this treasured ship,” said Ellie Donovan, Plimoth Plantation’s executive director. “We greatly appreciate the enormous support for Mayflower II, especially from the Massachusetts State leadership for ensuring a major part of the funding for her restoration.”
Plans call for the Mayflower II to return to Plymouth Harbor in time for next summer and returning to Mystic in the fall as the restoration continues.