Mayflower II Captain's Blog

Life aboard a 17th Century reproduction ship

Mayflower II back in the water

May 10th, 2015 by Whit Perry

Copy and paste this youtube address into your browser to watch this video Don Heminitz, Plimoth Plantation maritime artisan assistant, made the other day as we were going in the water. We only lowered the ship part way to get her feet wet so to speak. We will lower it the rest of the way on Monday.

What a Winter!

February 25th, 2015 by Whit Perry

Well, work on Mayflower II is progressing well here at Mystic Seaport in spite of the weather!  The skill and determination of the workers both from Mystic and Plymouth is incredible!  Along with everything that is happening down here, Don, George, Dick, Joe, Rick, Natalie and Allen are making excellent progress on spars and rigging in the shop at Plymouth.

The Survey is complete and we are just waiting on a full formal report from Capt. Paul Haley of G.W. Full and Associates.  This is what we will use to make longer term plans for the restoration of Mayflower II.  Again, this winters work is all about discovery, planning and exploratory surgery, with more in depth futtock and major structural replacement to take place in the full scope of the project.

Looking aft from amidships along the stbd side.

Looking fwd from amidships along the stbd side. I know it looks like looking fwd on port side, but image is reversed.

New starboard side rim timber and first futtock.  This is where the stbd side meets the transom.

New starboard side rim timber and first futtock. This is where the stbd side meets the transom.

Some new transom planks, with the "stern chaser" gun door in the image as well.

Some new transom planks, with the “stern chaser” gun door in the image as well.

Rim timber with transom planks in image too.

Rim timber with transom planks in image too.

Click on these images to view full size.

I am still figuring out how to create these blogs, bear with me as I am much better at boats than technology!

More to come soon,






Moving along with the discovery, planning and exploratory surgery phase.

February 4th, 2015 by Whit Perry

Well, we are in the midst of performing exploratory surgery on Mayflower II.  We are not finding huge surprises, but are finding exactly what we expected…the ship needs a major refit.

20150123_145336        20150130_110812


Above, Paul Haley working on his survey with project manager Rob Whalen in the basket!  Then a few days later with that same section opened up.  If you click on these photos they will expand for better detail.  Yes its snowing in the picture on the right!

The fasteners we pulled from this area look good, but the planks and some of the futtocks need replacement.  Of course you are only seeing 8 or 10 feet of what will be 30′ to 35′ planks with staggered butts.

This picture below shows some deteriorated bilge stringers down by the keel.  These structural members run fore and aft and are up to 40′long each.


On a side note we are looking for lots of lead to replace the rusted iron and stone ballast.  Let me know if any of you have a line where we can find some.  We know of all the retail places to buy this, however would like to perhaps buy some as surplus or used ships ballast lead.





Blizzard 2015

January 29th, 2015 by Whit Perry

20150128_072531  Digging out after the storm!

20150128_072602 Now back to work.

We had about 2 feet of snow here at Mystic Seaport!  But the ship came through fine, we had added some large concrete blocks with cables and chain falls to the four corners of the ship for that belt and suspender approach to secure the ship for the storm.




The Ballast is out

January 25th, 2015 by Whit Perry





Hello all, I hope the New Year finds you well.

Here at Mystic Seaport we are happy to report all the ballast is out of Mayflower II.

All 130 Tons.  72 Tons of cobblestone, 56 Tons of rusted pig iron and cut up railroad ties, and 2 Tons of rust scale and small bits!!




Bound for Mystic Seaport or Bust

December 22nd, 2014 by Whit Perry

Downrigged at Mystic Seaport

Downrigged at Mystic Seaport

Well, here we are at Mystic Seaport.  The Transit could not have gone smoother!

Day 1: Plymouth to New Bedford.  Day two: New Bedford to New London, CT.  Day three: Time the tide and move from New London up the Mystic river and into the seaport.  Thanks to Charlie Mitchell and the crew of Tug Jaguar!  Also a big thank you to volunteers, Dick Beane, Tom Bott, and Joe Jordan for their help. The Ships crew did an excellent job preparing and working together underway! Thanks, Susannah, Andrew, George, Dylan, Don, Natalie, and Dave.
We arrived Sunday afternoon to a huge welcome from Connecticut.  People were lining both sides of the river the whole 4 miles or so up the river, clapping, cheering and waving!

Susannah and Andrew working alongside some Mystic riggers started immediately on Monday downrigging the topmasts, yards and rigging.
The flagstaffs, Topmasts, Course yards, Spritsail yard, mizzen yard, and mizzen mast have all been removed.

While this was going on other Mystic staff along with Dylan and Don were in the hold removing floorboards to gain access to the 100 tons of ballast that needs to come out of the ship.

Also the Shipyard crew were simultaneously building the blocking plan on the syncrolift cradle that the ship will sit on to come out of the water.

We hope to haul the ship out of the water Tuesday the 23rd.  Then after the Holiday we will begin removing the ballast.

Mayflower II is indeed in good hands.

The media coverage and reaction have been tremendous!

Happy Holidays to all!!


Oak and Snow in Kentucky

November 18th, 2014 by Plimoth

Hi everyone!

Well, we got the White Oak loaded today during a snow storm here in Kentucky!  All went well and the wood is on its way to the Museum.  We had a videographer and still photographer from the University of Kentucky. They then interviewed Clint Patterson, Terry Conners, and myself afterward at a local coffee shop- so stay tuned for some links to footage and interviews soon!

I’d like to give some collaboration thanks to Arnold Graton Associates, the covered bridge builders who provided the loading and transportation for us.

Now I’m cold, wet and tired.  Will have a hot shower and something good to eat, then bed- but first a few photos!

-Whit Perry



20141117_090343 20141117_092824 20141117_100154 20141117_102505 20141117_104613

Welcome Whit Perry!

August 19th, 2014 by Plimoth
Whit Perry

Whit Perry

Please join us in welcoming Marc Whitney—“Whit”—Perry as the museum’s associate director for maritime preservation and operations! Whit comes to Plimoth Plantation with over 30 years of experience working with wooden boats. His most recent post was at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, where he maintained and operated three square-rigged vessels for nearly 10 years.

Whit has a long history with ships and sailing, having sailed all over the North Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. He has commanded many different types of vessels, from small catboats to square riggers, schooners, and sloops. He will start his new position later this month. Whit originally hails from Massachusetts and is looking forward to being back in New England. “I am very excited to be a part of the Plimoth Plantation team, as we move towards 2020—the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing in Massachusetts,” said Perry. “The restoration of Mayflower II is a dream come true. In the months and years to come we will restore and preserve this iconic ship so that future generations can continue to appreciate its beauty, significance, and history.”

In other Mayflower II news…

On July 11, 2014, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the 2015 fiscal year budget which includes $2 million in funding for the restoration of Mayflower II. The historic ship is a centerpiece exhibit of Plimoth Plantation and one of the Commonwealth’s leading tourism attractions, drawing millions of people from around the world to learn about the Plymouth Colony and its role in the early Colonial foundation of the United States.

We can’t wait for Whit to get on board, and we are excited to continue our preservation and restoration efforts throughout the upcoming seasons! Stop by, get on board and say hi to Whit!

The painting season is upon us

May 7th, 2014 by Plimoth



Now that the weather has stabilized somewhat, in between repair projects and other matters, we have begun painting the ship.

Mostly we work from staging that hangs over the side. This year we will also have access to a large float from which we can  paint near the waterline.

Why do I bring this up you might ask?

Well, we will be looking for some help this season with this enormous project.

I was going to apply the Tom Sawyer technique in order to attract volunteer painters. You know, “It sure is fun painting this ship. I bet you wish you could help. If you give me a dollar I’ll let you help.” That kind of thing. Truth is we need some help, it is kind of fun, in a “It sure feels good when I stop hitting my head against the wall,” kind of way, and we are just now coming into the very best time of year to hang around the waterfront. (There is both an ice cream shop and a pub right across the street.)

We work Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM. We are happy to have volunteer help. It may be the case, as summer comes along and sunset is later, that we can work later in the day.

I can be reached directly by e-mail at if you would like to help. Why not give it a try? The coffee is on us.




Winter Rigging

March 1st, 2014 by Plimoth

Or  - How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Polar Vortex.

You don’t find many ship rigging text books suggesting a snow blower and shovels  as indispensable items in your tool kit. This year we could not have rigged the ship without them.

Since the time the museum closed in December the marine staff has been dealing with the rigging on the ship in anticipation of a sailing opportunity for early March. The first step was to remove topmasts, all the yards and rigging. That happened in December. The second step was to inspect, overhaul and prepare the rigging in our shop for re-installation. That all happened in January. The third step, of course is to re-rig the ship. That happened during one of the coldest and snowiest Februarys we have had in some time.

Four wheel drive is essential to the modern riggers

Four wheel drive is essential to the modern riggers

Previous blog posts have articulated the rig up process. Add to those rather mundane descriptions: chip ice, shovel snow and salt the pier prior to lifting spars with the truck. Just ahead of the truck the reader can see the patch of dock  we had cleared to give us better traction for lifting.

Rigging worked best when we stayed on the cleared path.

Rigging worked best when we stayed on the cleared path.

Bring the topmast into the exhibit space in preparation for raising. It was interesting watching the ice flows drift past the pier as we worked. One day we saw a peregrine falcon sitting on the ice eating its lunch. It looked like Cold Duck. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture.IMG_0731

Mizzen sail, bent on, and set with lovely light snow falling for atmosphere.

Mizzen sail bent on  and set with a lovely, light snow falling for atmosphere.










Of course rigging the ship is only one part of preparing the ship to get underway. The gun doors need to be bolted and caulked tight as well. Andrew is in the skiff he rebuilt working on that in odd moments around the rigging process.

IMG_0749Oddly, it was snowing that day too.














A Snowy owl and Mayflower Model

A Snowy Owl and a Mayflower weather vane

This shot was taken on the beach here in Plymouth directly across the harbor from the where Mayflower II is docked. Recently, Birders are talking about the Snow Owl invasion we are experiencing here in coastal New England this winter. These birds  comes to us from the arctic – It is interesting to note how at home they appear to be around here this year.











© 2003-2011 Plimoth Plantation. All rights reserved.

Plimoth Plantation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, supported by admissions, grants, members, volunteers, and generous contributors.