The Mayflower II, a carefully crafted replica of the four-masted cargo ship that carried 102 religious dissidents to New England's shores in 1620, first arrived in Plymouth Harbor in 1957. It is one of Plymouth's must-see attractions—a unique opportunity to leap into American history and truly understand the times in which the Pilgrims lived and the risks they took to reach this new world.
Since 2017, however, this remarkable ship has been missing from Plymouth's waterfront. Where is Mayflower II? And when will it return to Massachusetts?
If you want to see the iconic ship, plan a visit to Mystic, Connecticut, where Mayflower II is undergoing extensive renovation at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport. The multi-year project, which will replace about half of the ship's wood, is scheduled for completion in 2019, which will allow Mayflower II to return home in time for 2020's commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth Rock.
While the ship is in the shop, these photos, taken during Mayflower II's 50th anniversary year, provide a glimpse of what visitors will experience aboard Mayflower II when it returns to home port.
A Faithful Replica
Visitors to Plymouth, Massachusetts, can board the Mayflower II, a replica of the Pilgrims' famous ship, to see how they journeyed to a new home in New England. In 1620, the 102 Pilgrims and crew spent 66 days crossing the Atlantic aboard the original Mayflower, a cargo ship commissioned for one of the most celebrated trips in history.
Like its sister attraction, Plimoth Plantation, Mayflower II immerses visitors in the Pilgrim experience. On board, you can venture below deck to see how the Pilgrims traveled during their 66 seasick days on the stormy Atlantic, speak with crew members of this still seaworthy vessel and chat with Pilgrim role players, who answere questions and offer insight into their motivations for undertaking this perilous journey.
The Pilgrim story resonates with travelers from around the world, and for more than 50 years, the Mayflower II has provided a glimpse of the hardships endured by these freedom seekers. Skilled English shipwrights completed the Mayflower II in 1957, and this full-scale replica sailed under wind power across the Atlantic to her new home in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
This traditional Wampanoag mashoon, a canoe made by burning a log and scraping out the charred wood, contrasts starkly with the Pilgrims' ship. It is one of the exhibits visitors see as they prepare to climb aboard Mayflower II.
You can gain insight into what the Pilgrims' long voyage must have been like by chatting with the role players aboard the Mayflower II. Just as they do at Plimoth Plantation, these Pilgrim characters speak a 17th-century dialect that takes getting used to.
What Lies Ahead?
Standing aboard the upper deck of the Mayflower II, visitors can contemplate the thoughts that occupied the Pilgrims' minds as they sailed into the unknown. It was a stormy crossing, and we know from accounts how many were feeling: Seasick.
Exploring the Ship
Visitors to the Mayflower II can spend as much time as they would like exploring the ship and talking to both costumed role players and the ship's current crew. Be sure to peek at the captain's quarters before going below to see how the Pilgrims traveled.
A Comfortable Berth
This bed may not look terribly comfortable by modern-day standards, but the officers of the Mayflower had more comfortable on-board accommodations than their human cargo. The Pilgrims, including three pregnant women, crowded together on the lower deck.
On the Mayflower II, the kitchen or cook room is located in the forecastle, just as it likely was on the Pilgrims' original ship.
On board the original Mayflower, the Pilgrims carried food provisions to last them through their first harvest in the new world. But it is easy to imagine that a diet of dried peas and salt cod got old after a while.
A Symbol of Strength
The Mayflower II, a gift made possible by donors in England, remains a lasting tribute to the Pilgrims' strength and faith more than 50 years after the replica was launched and nearly four centuries after the Pilgrims arrived on Plymouth's rocky shore.