Category Archives: Shipbuilding

Plimoth Plantation and Mystic Seaport Announce Collaborative Restoration of Mayflower II

Restoration of Iconic Ship Essential for Historic 2020 Commemoration

Plymouth, MA—December 4, 2014—Plimoth Plantation and Mystic Seaport, both acclaimed New England history museums, are pleased to announce a collaborative project to restore and repair Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction ship owned by Plimoth Plantation. Work on the historic ship will take place at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport, adhering to The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Vessel Preservation Projects. A cohesive restoration plan will be established in conjunction with Plimoth Plantation’s Maritime Artisans Program, led by the museum’s newly-hired Associate Director for Maritime Preservation and Operations, Whit Perry. Mayflower II is scheduled to depart the Plymouth waterfront for Mystic Seaport sometime over the next several days depending on weather conditions.

Copy of Mayflower II at sea_cmykWork will begin in December on a multi-year phased restoration plan, honoring the ship’s original construction and using traditional methods with the goal of restoring the ship to her original state when she first arrived to Plymouth in 1957. Inspections in 2013 revealed that Mayflower II is in need of a major refit, which is normal for a nearly 60-year-old wooden ship. Recently, Plimoth Plantation completed some major repairs to secure a safe condition for the ship to continue operations on the Plymouth waterfront. These efforts were the initial steps toward addressing the long-term restoration plan.

Upon the ship’s arrival at Mystic Seaport, the restoration plan will begin following three phases: survey, document, and restore. A comprehensive marine survey will be completed by Paul Haley of Capt. G.W. Full & Associates, the same firm that surveyed several vintage vessels including the Mystic Seaport flagship Charles W. Morgan, the USS Constitution, the USS Constellation, and many additional projects within the tall ship community. Stone and iron ballast will be completely removed for the first time since the ship’s construction nearly 60 years ago, to allow proper inspection of the bilge area. The scope and plan for this winter’s restoration work will largely be determined by the needs identified once the ship is out of the water and the ballast is removed.

“Part of our mission at Mystic Seaport is to pass on the skills and techniques of traditional shipbuilding and historic preservation to the next generation, and projects such as this enable us to fulfill that goal while at the same time supporting an important member of the history museum community,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to help restore Mayflower II, so she can continue to tell the story of the Pilgrims and their brave journey to America.”

Mayflower II’s future vitality depends on continual preservation. The significant restoration of the 57-year-old wooden ship is scheduled for completion prior to 2020–the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival. The celebrated ship is a major exhibit of Plimoth Plantation and a leading tourism attraction in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, drawing millions of people from around the world to Plymouth’s historic waterfront to learn about the United States’ early Colonial history.

“Mystic Seaport is the clear choice for restoring Mayflower II. She will be in good hands with the Museum’s skilled craftspeople and shipwrights. The staff and boards of both museums share pride in this collaboration and profound respect for this treasured ship,” said Ellie Donovan, Plimoth Plantation’s executive director. “We greatly appreciate the enormous support for Mayflower II, especially from the Massachusetts State leadership for ensuring a major part of the funding for her restoration.”

Mayflower II will be available for visitors to view in the shipyard at Mystic Seaport, allowing Mayflower II to continue to educate and inspire the public throughout the restoration process. The shipyard is open to visitors during the Museum’s operating hours. (Please check the Mystic Seaport website for seasonal changes.) If repairs go as planned, Mayflower II is expected to return to Plymouth in late May, 2015. Sourcing rare, large-dimensioned white oak, which is needed in wooden-ship construction, is not expected to be an issue during this round of repairs. Plimoth Plantation acquired approximately 2,500 board feet from Berea College in Kentucky, and an additional 2,500 board feet from another restoration project in Rhode Island.

About Plimoth Plantation

Plimoth Plantation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and a living museum dedicated to telling the history of Plymouth Colony from the perspective of both the Pilgrims and the Native Wampanoag people. Located less than an hour’s drive south of Boston in Plymouth, Massachusetts, (Exit 4, Route 3 south) and 15 minutes north of Cape Cod, the Museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week, from the third Saturday in March through the end of November 2014. Plimoth Plantation is a private, not-for-profit educational institution supported by admission fees, contributions, memberships, function sales and revenue from a variety of dining programs/services/special events and Museum Shops. Plimoth Plantation is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate and receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, private foundations, corporations, and local businesses. For more information, visit http://www.plimoth.org.

About Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship and the last wooden whaleship in the world. The Museum’s collection of more than two million artifacts includes more than 500 historic vessels and one of the largest collections of maritime photography in the country. The state-of-the-art Collections Research Center at Mystic Seaport provides scholars and researchers from around the world with access to the Museum’s renowned archives. Mystic Seaport is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. Admission is $24 for adults and $15 for children ages 6-17. Museum members and children 5 and under are admitted free. For more information, please visit www.mysticseaport.org and follow Mystic Seaport on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

North Carolina Maritime Museum Hiring Boatbuilder

The North Carolina Maritime Museum in the Department of Cultural Resources seeks a Museum Specialist – Boatbuilder for its Watercraft Center in Beaufort, NC. This is a full-time permanent State Government position. The hiring salary range is $34,190 – $42,000, and the successful candidate will start working early in the New Year.

Candidates must be knowledgeable in vernacular and “classic” watercraft history and construction techniques, skilled in traditional boat building techniques and in teaching them to the public and able to train and supervise a largely volunteer work force. Prefer graduation from a four year college/university , some supervisory and managerial experience or three years of related work experience with demonstrated knowledge of boat building. Candidates with an equivalent combination of education and experience are strongly urged to apply.

Applications must be made only online through the NC Office of State Human Resources website: http://www.oshr.nc.gov/jobs/. See specific link to this position here.

Candidates are encouraged to submit further supporting material in addition to completing the mandatory standard application form. All applications must be received by 5:00 PM EST on Friday, December 12, 2014.

The Department of Cultural Resources is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.

Maine Maritime Museum’s New Blacksmith Exhibit

Architectural rendering of blacksmith exhibit at Maine Maritime Museum

Architectural rendering of blacksmith exhibit at Maine Maritime Museum

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Opening Day – August 15, 2014. Photo by Candace Clifford

BATH, Maine, July 22…When the ribbon is cut for the Kenneth D. Kramer Blacksmith Shop Exhibit during a member’s reception on Friday, August 15, it will mark the latest transformative addition to Maine Maritime Museum’s campus and will complete the curated story of the historic Percy & Small Shipyard, part of the museum’s campus and a remarkable story in Maine’s maritime heritage.

From 1894 to 1920, the Percy & Small Shipyard built an astonishing 41 four- five- and six-mast schooners.  Of only 11 six-mast wooden schooners ever built in the Americas, 7 were constructed at the P&S yard including Wyoming, largest of them all. When the P&S site was donated to the museum in 1975, it was remarkably intact, the only U.S. shipyard that built large wooden sailing vessels that still had original buildings. The only one missing was the blacksmith shop.

“While it may seem surprising that a blacksmith shop would be an important part of a wooden vessel shipyard,Wyoming was built with more than 300 tons of iron and steel,” says Amy Lent, the museum’s executive director.  “In addition to the anchor and usual metal fastenings and fittings present in all ships, the huge wooden ship’s hull could not have borne the incredible pressures created by the 6,000 long tons of coal in her holds without the iron strapping that kept her timbers in place.”

During the 26 years that the P&S shipyard was in business, there were two different buildings that served as the blacksmith shop. The first, which outfitted all of the six-mast schooners, was destroyed by fire in 1913 – not an unusual occurrence for wooden buildings housing open forges in an environment filled with wood shavings and sawdust. Very little information is available about the interior of that building and few clear exterior photos exist. The shop contained at least one forge and also a boiler for the yard’s steam box for making heavy planking pliable. The second blacksmith shop building was torn down in 1939, long after P&S had ceased operation.

Opening day - August 15, 2014. Photo by Candace Clifford

Opening day – August 15, 2014. Photo by Candace Clifford

The exhibit approximates the original building’s dimensions of 84 x 26 feet and location due east of the Paint & Treenail Shop. To preserve the integrity of the shipyard’s original historic buildings, the new structure is not an attempt at a historical recreation of the original building. Instead, the proportions, dimensions and materials used evoke the original building and its purpose while clearly being a contemporary structure.

While the open design permits expansive views of the P&S shipyard and the Kennebec River, an innovative combination of corrugated weathering steel (which oxidizes to a rust-colored finish) and rough-cut wood framing was selected to reference shipbuilding materials.

The structure houses exhibits related to the blacksmith activities that took place there while also providing a gathering place for functions and visitors.  On occasion, blacksmithing demonstrations will be conducted in the building.

Replacing the blacksmith ship was a vision of former MMM Trustee Kenneth D. Kramer, who passed away in 2009 leaving a generous bequest that included funds to construct a Blacksmith Shop building. Thanks entirely to Ken the complete shipbuilding story of the great schooners can now be told, and so the new exhibit building bears his name.