VIDEO: Of Mouse And Mayflower

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Mystic Seaport's head rigger crafts a mouse for the Mayflower II's mizzen stay. 

Mystic Seaport's head rigger crafts a mouse for the Mayflower II's mizzen stay. 

The Mayflower II, a 1957 reproduction of the original ship that brought Pilgrims to the New World nearly 400 years ago, is undergoing a complete refit at the Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. Among the upgrades she is receiving are all-new stays for her three masts. This video from the museum shows how a rigger fabricates a mouse — an elaborate work of marlinspike seamanship — for each stay. WATCH

Built in 1957, the Mayflower II is a reproduction of the ship that in 1620 brought Pilgrims to the New World. Tired and worn from 60 years of exposure to the elements, she’s currently undergoing a full refit at the Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut.

While shipwrights replace Mayflower II’s rotten frames and warped planks, the museum’s rigging department is fabricating new stays for her three masts. A particularly complicated component of these stays is the “mouse.” It’s a bulge woven from many different cords that acts as a heavy-duty stopper knot where each stay wraps around the mast.

In this video from the Mystic Seaport Museum, head rigger Matthew Otto shows how each mouse is made by hand.

The museum hopes to have Mayflower II ready to launch in 2020 for the 400 anniversary of the Pilgrims’ 1620 arrival. You can follow her progress by visiting the museum’s restoration blog.