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Mayflower II Returns To Plymouth Monday After 3-Year Renovation

PLYMOUTH (CBS/AP) —The Mayflower II returned home to Plymouth Monday. The ship docked in Plymouth Harbor, just down the road from the Plimoth Plantation living history museum around 4 p.m.

The replica of the original Mayflower ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620 had been in Connecticut for three years to have $11.2 million worth of renovations. There were also several months of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It left Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay around 9 a.m. Monday.

The original plan had called for a celebratory departure in late April with several stops at southern New England ports before a May arrival. That was to include being led into Boston Harbor under sail with the USS Constitution for a maritime festival to mark the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower voyage.

But those plans were scrapped because of the pandemic.

Plimoth Plantation live-streamed the trip Monday with multiple cameras and vantage points.

"I just had to be here today," said spectator Dianne Timpson. "I had to see her come in. There's a lot of pride involved in that."

She drove all the way up from Connecticut, in part because of her family's original ties to the Mayflower. "To kind of realize the journey that they took, the size of the ship, the conditions that they lived under, and to see her sail in today to the harbor, to Plymouth, that's wonderful. Reliving it again, feeling it, there's a lot of pride, that's my ancestors."

If you want to see the ship in person, tours are scheduled to begin Wednesday. Masks will be required.

The Mayflower II has been a major tourist attraction and educational tool since it arrived in Plymouth as a gift from England in 1957.

"The Mayflower represents an amazing story of American history and it connects us all together because it is really the first great American story," said Brenton Simons, the vice chair of Plymouth 400.

Stabilization efforts began in 2014, with the ship spending part of the year in Mystic, Connecticut. Continuous restoration work began at the seaport museum in 2016, with shipwrights from the seaport museum and artisans from Plimoth Plantation engaged in the work.

The ship's keel was saved, but nearly 75% of the vessel is new, according to Plimoth Plantation.

"It really also reflected the traditional shipbuilding method that would have been used in the 17th century," said Kate Sheehan of Plimouth Plantation. "This is the first time that the ship has been under sail this close to Plymouth since 2014."

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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