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The Mayflower II is a replica of the 17th century ship Mayflower, celebrated for transporting the Pilgrims to the New World.

The replica was built in Devonmarker, Englandmarker, during 1955–1956, in a collaboration between Englishman Warwick Charlton and an American museum, Plimoth Plantationmarker, combining the American museum's ship blueprints with construction by old traditional methods of English shipbuilders.On April 20, 1957, recreating the original voyage, Mayflower II was sailed across the Atlantic Oceanmarker, under the command of Alan Villiers. Afterwards, Villiers and crew received a ticker-tape parade in New York Citymarker.



Built at the Upham Shipyard in Brixhammarker and financed by private donations in Englandmarker and by the American museum, the ship was a symbol of friendship between the United Kingdommarker and the USAmarker for collaboration in World War II.

Within a few details (electric lights added and ladder replaced with a lower-deck staircase), the ship is considered a faithful replica, with solid oak timbers, tarred hemp rigging, and hand-coloured maps. The ship is 106 by wide, 236 tons displacement, 4 masts (mainmast, foremast, mizzen, sprit), and 6 sails.

On Thanksgiving 1970 (350th anniversary of Mayflower landing), Native American activists (with Russell Means) seized Mayflower II in protest. The ship is seaworthy and sailed to Providence, Rhode Islandmarker in 2002. It is open for tours near Plymouth Rockmarker in Plymouthmarker, Massachusettsmarker. The ship is still owned by Plimoth Plantationmarker.

History

The concept of constructing a reproduction of the Mayflower had been conceived in August 1954 by Mr. Warwick Charlton to commemorate the wartime cooperation between the United Kingdommarker and the USAmarker, having served alongside many American allies in the North African theatre during World War II. Consequently, Project Mayflower was created in 1955 to build a replica of the Mayflower and then sail the ship to America as a symbol of Anglo-American friendship.

A concern of the project's sponsors was placement of the ship after it reached the United States. They were aware of the fate of earlier reproduction vessels that had rotted away after interest in their initial voyages faded. Project Mayflower had become aware of the Plimoth Plantationmarker museum, and in March 1955, John Lowe of Project Mayflower came to the United States. He met with representatives of Plimoth Plantation to gain assistance in future berthing and exhibition of Mayflower II.

By coincidence, Plimoth Plantation had planned, years earlier, to add a replica of the Mayflower to its exhibits. In 1951, the museum had already commissioned plans for a Mayflower II from the naval architect William A. Baker of MITmarker. Mr. Baker's detailed plans had already been finished by the time Project Mayflower's intentions were announced. A waterline model of the vessel's hull had already been built, but nothing more.

The two organizations arranged an agreement in the spring of 1955:in exchange for using Mr. Baker's design plans and advice, plus a guarantee to permanently maintain and exhibit the vessel, Project Mayflower agreed to build Mayflower II, sail it across the Atlanticmarker, and release the ship to Plimoth Plantation after sailing the ship for exhibition at various East Coast ports.

The construction of Mayflower II was conducted at the Upham shipyard in Brixham, Devonshire, Englandmarker. The ship's keel was laid on July 27, 1955, and ship architect William A. Baker was sent by Plimoth Plantation to advise the builders and view the progress of the ship's construction.

The ship was replicated as accurately as possible, from the carefully chosen English oak timbers, to the hand-forged nails, hand-sewn linen canvas sails, actual hemp cordage,and the Stockholmmarker tar of the type used on 17th century ships. Based on analysis of the traditional colors and designs of English merchant ships illustrated in Dutch and English paintings, Mayflower II has the brown hull and the dark-red strapwork ornamentation of those 17th century merchant ships. Carved into the stern of Mayflower II is a blossom of a hawthorne, or English mayflower. In England, the skills of elderly traditional workmen were employed to build a vessel that would reflect Mr. Baker's detailed research and could sail the Atlantic as securely as the original ship.

The Mayflower II was launched on September 22, 1956, a rainy day. The ceremony was based on knowledge about christenings of 17th-century vessels. The ship was toasted from a gold loving cup that was then thrown into the water, as was the 17th-century custom, and then quickly retrieved by an underwater diver, in the traditional manner. The ship then was slid gracefully down the ways to enter Brixham harbor with a large splash.

Finally, on April 20, 1957, Mayflower II began the solitary voyage across the Atlantic. For time and safety of avoiding winter ice, the new ship took a more southerly route than the original Mayflower in September 1620, but otherwise, the voyage had been an accurate replication of a period ocean crossing. The weather cooperated in this concern for accuracy; Mayflower II first sailed calm seas and then met a violent storm off Bermudamarker, common weather for a transatlantic crossing.

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