There has been a few weeks lapse since the last post. Anyone reading this blog must be aware of the surge in press for Mayflower II recently. While there is a saying that goes, “Any press is good press,” it is not entirely true in this case.
During the course of the work on the ship, which has mostly involved removing hull planking marked as unsafe by the Coast Guard, further frame deterioration has been discovered.
This picture shows a piece of the aft most frame on the port side of the ship. It has been removed for obvious reasons. There are at least seven frame pieces on both sides of the ship that show this much if not more deterioration.
At this stage we (the museum) had a decision to make: Patch up the frames, and put new planks over the not so good wood to get the ship back to Plymouth for Opening Day (March 16th) and revisit this work again this coming winter. In the mean time the ship will not be considered safe to sail. Also, next winter we would have to remove all the new planks we just put on, in order to get at those patched up frames for a proper, Coast Guard approved repair.
The second option was to take the plunge now and address the issues realizing the ship would not be back in time for opening and incur the unexpected and substantial cost of this lengthy project.
The decision was made to go with the second option. It is not a happy choice but a prudent one and one that makes the most sense for a ship that is fifty five years old.
Two obvious points: 1)The cost of doing this work is not going to be less in the future. 2) The ship is only getting older.
It is a challenge for this or any museum to be responsible for a iconic wooden vessel. We take comfort that we are not alone. A ship like Mayflower II has many stake holders: Plimoth Plantation, the town of Plymouth, the state of Massachusetts, schools and school children from our own town and all over the country, tourist from here and abroad, maritime enthusiasts, square rigged sailors, immigrants, Mayflower passenger descendants, and anyone who is searching for a change, willing to take a chance, and dreaming of a new life.
Mayflower is the ship that can transport you there.
These two photos were taken today. They show a support timber out on beakhead. That is the bowsprit on the left side of the shot. This morning the plan was to clean up the timber in preparation to put the new deck beam and other pieces back in. This support piece has proven very rotten. Another consult with the Coast Guard is scheduled for tomorrow.
So as not to end on a sad note I will add this picture, taken today of one of our volunteers. I know we learn more from out volunteers than we ever teach them. Thanks, Joe.