The historic ship Mayflower II is scheduled to arrive at Mystic Seaport on Sunday, December 14, after 1 p.m. The ship is being towed from Plymouth, Mass. to Mystic Seaport, where she will undergo the first phase of a multi-year restoration in the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard.
Mayflower II is a replica of the original Mayflower that transported the Pilgrims to Massachusetts in 1620. The new ship was built in the United Kingdom and sailed to the United States in 1957. She is owned by Plimouth Plantation. The restoration of the 57-year-old wooden ship will be carried out over several years with the ship spending winter and spring at Mystic Seaport and returning to Plymouth each summer and fall. The project is scheduled for completion prior to 2020–the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival.
Mayflower II is being towed to Mystic Seaport over the course of three days with overnight stops in New Bedford, Mass. on Friday and New London, Conn. on Saturday. The ship will arrive at the mouth of the Mystic River between 1:00 and 1:30 p.m. and proceed upriver to Mystic Seaport on the afternoon high tide. The Mystic River portion of the journey is expected to take approximately an hour.
The ship is being towed by the tugboat Jaguar, which is equipped with an Automated Identification Signal (AIS) transmitter. Interested parties can track the vessels’ progress online on several free websites. Jaguar’s Maritime Mobile Service Identity number is 366934810.
Mayflower II was moved into the Museum’s Hays and Ros Clark Shiplift and hauled out of the water so that restoration work can begin in earnest after the holidays. It is a process that takes several hours from beginning to end.
First, the ship was carefully maneuvered by the shipyard’s workboats off of the north side of the lift and positioned over the cradle on the submerged platform. The cradle on the platform had been previously set up with blocking and poppets to match the curves of the hull.
Once in position, divers were sent into the water to adjust the supports. This was cold work in the waters of the Mystic River in December, and it is a job not made any easier by the poor visibility due to the current dredging of the channel just off the Museum.
Satisfied that Mayflower II was properly supported, the lift motors were engaged and the ship inched out of the water until high and dry. After an inspection and some additional adjustments to the cradle supports, one of the shipyard’s forklifts pulled the whole apparatus, ship and all, forward off the lift onto the concrete pad in the yard for a thorough power-washing of the hull. The pad includes a waste-water collection system to catch the debris off the hull to prevent it from entering the river.