|World. They set sail with their meager worldly possessions in a small ship, the Mayflower. Just what a risk that was is graphically brought home by a tour of Mayflower II, a full-scale replica of the original ship docked on the waterfront at State Pier near the Plymouth Rock.
Mayflower II, built in 1955, is just over 106 feet long. The original Mayflower, on the voyage that took it to Plymouth Rock in 1620, carried 102 passengers and 26 crew members. Today, a dedicated group of people don the costumes and attitudes of the early 1600's to tell visitors what life was like in that era. They are trained to stay faithfully in character and never let on they know anything about life beyond the spring of 1621.
When we paid our admission and went aboard, a 1620's seaman haughtily told us that the pilgrim passengers are just another cargo to him. They stay below deck and set up makeshift partitions of sheets to give them a little privacy in their cramped quarters. There is no need for them to cook. They don't work so they don't need hot meals. The crew, on the other hand does, and cooks food on a brick stove in the fo'c'sle, or crew's quarters, near the bow.
Everywhere on the ship costumed men and women living in 1621 go about their lives, tending to the vessel, sewing and mending, and giving demonstrations of everyday skills in use at the time. Visitors mingle with them and ask them questions, which they thoughtfully answer as long as the question does not involve anything after 1621. You can't get them to break character. (Everyone tries.) It is an extraordinary performance.
On to Plimoth Plantation
The people go about their everyday business, allowing visitors to watch them sawing boards, repairing their houses, cooking food, and tending their kitchen gardenslittle plots built up and surrounded by stones. We were treated to the sight of two women sitting outside a house plucking feathers from freshly killed geese and taking care to save the down for bedding. We chatted about hygiene with a woman pulling carrots from her garden. She flatly stated that bathing is bad for the health and warned us not to take more than two baths a year. It was sufficient to brush and air the clothes about once a month.
Inside another house, a woman was cooking a chicken in an iron pot hanging from hooks over a fire in the middle of the floor. Each house was different, and each family had some unique insight to provide into early 17th century colonial lifestyles.
Although fall might be an ideal time for your Plymouth Pilgrimage, it's fun to visit at any time of year for young and older alike.
Would you like more information on how to plan your trip to Plymouth and Cape Cod?