Shipwrights from Mystic Seaport and Plimoth Plantation recently went to the Gulf Coast this to harvest live oak trees to be used in Mayflower II’s restoration – one in Pass Christian, MS, and the second in Belle Chasse, LA.
Pass Christian resident Diane Brugger donated a tree as a legacy to her late husband, Tony, who died during Hurricane Katrina. Diane rode out the storm by clinging to the branches of two trees on their property. Recently, one of the trees was struck by lightning and needed to be taken down; she donated it to Mayflower II following a longstanding relationship with Mystic Seaport and Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker went to Mississippi to harvest it.
The trees in Belle Chasse were removed to make way for a new power line project. Sam Bordelon, whose family has owned the property over which the lines will pass for nearly 100 years, said he was at first sad at the loss of trees, but that seeing them go to such a special use “was a redeeming outcome.” Whit Perry, Plimoth Plantation’s Director of Maritime Preservation and Operations, was onsite overseeing the harvesting along with Matt Barnes, lead shipwright on the project from Mystic Seaport.
Wood from the trees will be used to replace frames and structural pieces on the ship, which is being worked on at the Mystic Seaport Shipyard in Mystic, CT, to prepare it for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival.
“Live oak is highly sought after in wooden shipbuilding because it is very dense, hard, and resists rot better than almost all other species in North America,” Quentin explains. “The crooks and curves typical of the trees are ideal for the fabrication of many of the structural parts as there are few straight lines and right angles on a wooden ship.”
Whit expressed appreciation for the generous contribution that the landowners have made to the restoration of the historic Mayflower II. “These trees will live on in perpetuity, and make it possible for the ship to sail on for generations to come.”