So….This is going to sort of sound like confession but, it has been about three weeks since my last posting. If anyone is following this blog the last posting I did was a Friday just as we were finishing up painting the ship. We had two weeks before the sail and about a thousand items on our “to do” list in order for us to take Mayflower out on her anniversary sail.
We had to install the heads on the ship, rig the safety equipment, make sure the vhf radio was working, set up mooring lines, take the permanent set off the ship, work with the shallop crew, stow the period items on the ship, rig the gangways and gallows, rig the anchor, and anchor line, bring deck chairs aboard, rig the modern compass on the ship and on and on.
Of course it all happened and with the help of our sailing crew everything was done on time, and under control. The only thing we could not control was the weather. Mayflower is restricted by our Coast Guard certificate to sailing in 16 knots of wind or less and we cannot leave the dock in more than 25 knots of wind. The tugboat skipper was unsure as late as the day before the sail if we were going to be able to leave the dock based on the marine forecast for the day of the sail. The weather service was predicting 16 to 25 knots of winds with higher gusts off shore.
It was overcast and cool the morning of the 22nd. We decided to make the call whether we would go or not at 3:00 pm when the tugboat arrived to tow us out of the pier. Everyone understood that the weather was out of our control and the safety of the passengers and the ship were most important. All morning we watched the wind speed creep up then down the scale. We constantly logged onto the NOAA weather site on the computer to get the latest predictions. By noon we felt safe to say to each other the wind seemed to be diminishing. By three the sky had cleared off, the sun was shining and the wind was down to a respectable 12-15 knots. It was a go.
The trip itself was a tremendous success. The tug towed us out in to the bay in just over an hour, we sailed for just under and hour and were towed back to the pier only twenty minutes late. The fleet of boats following us was unbelievable. I think it was the biggest fleet of boats, Mayflower has had with her on any sail since the 1989 sail or maybe even 1957 arrival itself.
The ship sailed well,. looked beautiful, and the sailing crew was outstanding.
I am very pleased that our guests on board, people accompanying us in their boats, and the crowd around Plymouth harbor all had such an enjoyable time. We received a good deal of press, and hopefully created new friends for Plimoth Plantation and supporters of Mayflower II.
We have been preparing for last three winters, and two full seasons to sail Mayflower II
Preparations included: Three haul-outs at Kelly’s shipyard, towing the ship there and back Replaced over 800 hull fastenings, x-rayed keel bolts, replace the main channel, port side. New fore shrouds, pulled the fore and mizzen masts Replaced much of the planking and framing of the stern castle Replaced three planks in the bow, parts of two frames in the bow, two planks below the waterline, new fore course sail, new main course sail, (In the last two years) Over 1,600 hours of time to paint the ship this season alone. Scraped and reoiled all the spars. Repairs to main deck rail, refasten working top planking, three Coast Guard dry dock inspections, one certificate inspection, a radio station inspection, and some other stuff I am sure I forgot.
Actual sailing time: 45 minutes.
All the staff of Plimoth Plantation contributed to the success of the Mayflower II anniversary events. Many people worked long hours to see that everything went off without a hitch. It is a tribute to the staff and Plimoth Plantation’s great good fortune that such a dedicated group of people are willing to undertake these tasks and have them come off so successfull and appear as if it were all so effortless.