With a history so deeply rooted in maritime culture, it was a natural evolution for Mystic, Connecticut to become home to one of the nation’s most extensive maritime museums and, eventually, take on the responsibility of restoring the Mayflower II. Built as a replica of the Mayflower, whose importance in introducing European settlers and culture into what would become the original American colonies cannot be understated, the Mayflower II is a classic amongst classic yachts. As such, the proper restoration of this yacht bears a culturally historic weight that is regulated by the same body of government that is responsible for the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Park Service, overseen by the US Department of the Interior, leads the National Maritime Initiative that has published a document called the Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects. These standards are being used to ensure that the work done in Mystic results in a restored Mayflower II that is as historically accurate as reasonably possible. As stated in the document, “Preservation of historic vessels is more than “ship saving,” more than rescuing a vessel from the knacker’s torch or from an ignominious scuttling as part of a breakwater. Responsible historic vessel preservation is a thoroughly planned and documented, systematic…process.” The team of experienced shipwrights, and history buffs, at Mystic Seaport, has been more than adequately equipped for this undertaking since the project’s inception in 2014.
These days, the lead shipwright for the Mayflower II restoration is Matthew Barnes, a graduate of none other than Newport’s International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS). The team of shipwrights working under his leadership, which includes many alumni of IYRS’s programs, has been carefully selected and are hard at work with the goal of delivering the completed vessel back to her home at the Plymouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts in time for the 400th commemorative celebration of the Mayflower’s original arrival on the New England shores in 2020.
To learn more about the Mayflower II and her restoration process, visit these websites: