Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Mayflower II Gets a Makeover

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Mayflower II Gets a Makeover

Article excerpt

PLYMOUTH,Mass. - The Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America's shores in 1620, is getting a massive makeover. And it's not just cosmetic. Its hull is rotting; beetles are gorging themselves, Thanksgiving-style, on some of its timbers; and half of what lies beneath the waterline needs replacing.

"We have issues all over the ship, said Whit Perry, director of maritime preservation and operations at Plimoth Plantation, which maintains the replica that Britain built and sailed to the U.S. as a gift of friendship in 1957.

"She needs major structural frame repair and planking, he said. "Without a project of this magnitude now, her days would be numbered - and that would be tragic.

Over the next two years, skilled craftsmen with the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Connecticut's Mystic Seaport will complete a $7.5 million overhaul to get the vessel ship-shape for 400th anniversary festivities in 2020.

An estimated 25 million people from around the globe have boarded the 60-year-old ship. Generations of schoolchildren have clambered above and below decks to learn about the original Mayflower and the hardy settlers it carried to the New World.

But this Thanksgiving, there's nothing but an empty slip on the waterfront near Plymouth Rock, where the national treasure usually sits.

It won't return until 2019 from dry dock in Mystic, where a live webcam has been set up to provide 24-hour views of the reconstruction.

"This is an opportunity to preserve a piece of history and allow millions more people to experience her, said Plantation spokeswoman Kate Sheehan. "Immigration, journeys, where we come from: These are profound questions, and they're really relevant in our current political climate.

Although a crowdfunding campaign to raise $250,000 fell short this month, Sheehan said private donors, corporate sponsors and government agencies so far have contributed more than $7 million. …

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