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The first Mayflower left Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620 with 102 passengers and about 25 carefully selected crew, arriving in the New World 67 days later.  She was a "sweet" ship in that she had been engaged in the wine trade in the Mediterranean since 1616.  She had also been engaged in fur trade with Norway and had experienced the storms of the North Sea, a most treacherous body of water.  The dimensions of the first Mayflower were 90 feet in length (12 Feet more than a tennis court), 26 feet in width, with a tonnage of 180.  Small as she was she was larger than the Discovery, which landed at Virginia in 1607.  There was a barn in Buckinghamshire, England, in which some roof timbers and the central cross beam were made from the original ship.

On July 4, 1955, construction started on Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship, in Brixham, England.  She was designed by U.S. Naval Architect William Baker and commissioned by Plimouth Plantation.  Although her dimensions and tonnage were similar, there were major updates.  Mayflower II steered with a wheel instead of a tiller, had a generator, electricity, and tow-way radio, as well as superior pumps.  She also had a galley without a refrigerator for the preparation of meals.  The Pilgrims had a sandbox on which small fires could be kindled and at best they could stew in small pots.  In bad weather, this cooking procedure could not be used due to the danger of fire from the burning coals.  Mayflower II left England April 20, 1957 and arrived at Plymouth, MA on June 13.  It is permanently berthed in Plymouth and well worth a visit.

Mayflower II was Captained by Alan Villiers, an Australian, and had an international crew that numbered 31.  Two LIFE Magazine reporters were also on the voyage.  The 1967 route went south to pass the Canary Islands, down below the Tropic of Cancer and back up to the west of Bermuda.  In 1620 Captain Jones, the 1620 Captain, familiar with the charts and maps of explorers Cabot and Gosnold, took a shorter, more northern route in rougher seas, aiming to stay along the 42d parallel.

Article from the Tar Heel Pilgrim, May 2000.

Sources: Caffrey, Kate: Mayflower; Williston, George: Saints and Sinners; "California Mayflower," Apr. 1997; "Daughters," Publication of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Nov. 1996; "LIFE MAGAZINE," Apr. 17, 1957; "Mississippi Mayflower Messenger," Apr. 1997 and "New York Mayflower Newsletter," Spring 1998.

 

 

Revised:  November 1, 2008