Monday, May 9, 2016

The Mayflower II under renovation at the Mystic Seaport Shipyard

The Mayflower II undergoing repair at the shipyard at the Mystic Seaport Museum

Anyone visiting the wonderful museum at Mystic, Connecticut called Mystic Seaport can see the Mayflower II at the Henry B. DuPont Preservation shipyard undergoing repairs.  This is the historic vessel preservation shipyard in New England.  However, this weekend a small group of lucky members of the Plimoth Plantation Museum (home of the Mayflower II) were able to tour inside the ship while it was under renovations!

Here we are next to Mayflower II
Genealogy blogger June Butka joined us for this very special tour.  Tickets for this event were sold out weeks ago.  We met up with the tour at the Mystic Seaport visitor center and headed over to the shipyard where we heard from Quentin Snedicker of Mystic, and from Whit Perry, the associate director of the Mayflower II maritime preservation project for Plimoth Plantation, and also from Richard Pickering, the deputy director of Plimoth Plantation, about the repairs underway on the Mayflower

I wrote about a tour we did with Plimoth Plantation of the Mayflower II when she was in drydock inFairhaven in 2014.  Some of those repairs were found to be inadequate when Mayflower II was in Mystic's shipyard for a short time in 2015.  The new plan is for a complete restoration of the ship at a total cost of $9 million.  This will make the Mayflower II seaworthy, and authentically restored according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects.  Unfortunately, these massive repairs, which include the keel, might take as long as 30 to 36 months.  The plan is to have her returned to her berth in Plymouth harbor in time for the 400th anniversary of her famous voyage in 1620.

Vincent and June board the Mayflower II 

Notice that the artisans are using traditional wooden tools

New beams installed on the rear half deck 

The Mayflower II was a gift from England to the United States in 1957.  It was a “thank you” for assistance from the US during World War II.  Since 1957 about 25 million people have visited the Mayflower II in Plymouth and in other ports.  This June Mayflower II will return briefly to Plymouth harbor for the summer season, but the real renovation work will begin next fall back in Mystic.  

42 members joined Mystic Seaport staff for this tour, and see how crowded we were?
Imagine 102 passengers in this space in 1620, plus pigs, chickens and 2 dogs,
plus all their belongings and the shallop! For a 66 day journey! 

Below deck you can see new wood joined with wood
from the original 1957 shipbuilders.
Below deck, where the Mayflower Pilgrims stayed during the 1620 voyage,
Whit Perry describes the 1957 ship and her current renovations.

Mayflower II will be pulled out of the water and raised up in drydock where the Amistad (another famous ship from American history) now stands in the shipyard.  Then the most crucial and extensive repair works will begin and last through 2018 or 2019.  This extensive work means that she will not be available to view in Plymouth, but you can keep tabs on her by visiting Mystic Seaport Museum. 

Quentin Snedicker of Mystic Seaport describes the overhaul, standing next to the Amistad in drydock

If you would like to attend a project update about the Mayflower II, Plimoth Plantation's Executive Director Ellie Donovan is holding a meeting on Thursday, May 12th from 6:30 to 7:30pm at the Plimoth Plantation Visitor Center.  Coffee and cookies will be served.  See this announcement online   

Vincent and I enjoyed our wonderful tour of the preservation project
of Mayflower II ongoing at the Mystic Seaport shipyard

You can help keep Mayflower II afloat!  Every gift makes a difference!

Write a check to the Development Office, Plimoth Plantation, PO Box 1620, Plymouth, MA 02362

Make a donation by credit card at or call the development office at 508-746-1622 (ext. 8226)

Richard Pickering, Deputy Director at Plimoth Plantation
gave a passionate speech to us during lunch.  


For the truly curious:

Watch a video of the restoration of Mayflower II at Mystic Seaport 

Read my blog post about seeing Mayflower II in drydock in Fairhaven in 2013, when the extent of the repair work needed was discovered by the preservation crew:

Plimoth Plantation webpage for Mayflower II

The webpage for donations towards Mayflower II restoration

Old tools and new tools being used by the
preservation crew at Mystic shipyard


Thank you to June Stearns Butka for some of the photography! 

Published under a Creative Commons License

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The Mayflower II under renovation at the Mystic Seaport Shipyard", Nutfield Genealogy, posted May 9, 2016, (  accessed [access date]).

1 comment:

  1. Too bad I had to work, I would have enjoyed coming. When it returns in the fall, I'll take the grandchildren! Enjoyed your story and photos.