MAYFLOWER II Departs for Plymouth

The journey is expected to take two days with the ship stopping overnight in New Bedford.
MAYFLOWER II passes through the bridge
MAYFLOWER II is towed through the Mystic River drawbridge on her way to Plymouth, MA on May 19, 2015. All photos on this page by Dennis A. Murphy/Mystic Seaport

Mayflower II, the reproduction of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to Massachusetts in 1620, departed Mystic Seaport this morning to return to her homeport of Plymouth, MA. The journey is expected to take two days with the ship stopping overnight at State Pier in New Bedford, after which she will pass through the Cape Cod Canal and arrive in Plymouth sometime in the afternoon of Wednesday, May 20.

As Mayflower II has no engine, she is being towed by the tug Jaguar.

The ship has been at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport since last December, where she has been undergoing the first phase of a multi-year restoration to prepare her for the 400th Anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in 2020. Plimoth Plantation, the ship’s owner, wants to return her to the same condition she was in when she was sailed over from the United Kingdom in 1957. Mayflower II was a gift to the American people to commemorate the spirit of collaboration between the two countries during World War II.

“The key goal for this phase of the project was to determine the scope of work and come up with a detailed plan for the ship’s restoration that both addresses the ship’s needs and does so on a schedule that works for Plimoth Plantation,” said Dana Hewson, Mystic Seaport Vice President for Watercraft Preservation and Programs.

The ship was hauled out of the water and had her ballast removed to enable a complete marine survey of the hull. The work was carried out by Paul Haley of Capt. G.W. Full & Associates, who did similar survey work for the Mystic Seaport whaleship Charles W. Morgan during her restoration.

In addition to the survey, shipwrights and Plimoth crew members were able to attend to a number of important tasks, including plank replacement, fresh caulking of the hull and decks, and a new paint job. Patterns were taken of structural members that need to be replaced to enable Mystic Seaport shipwrights to prefabricate parts while the ship is in Plymouth over the summer.

The ship is expected to return to Mystic Seaport in December following Thanksgiving.

“This has been a great project for both museums,” added Hewson. “Both organizations bring different strengths to the table and we are learning a lot from each other.”