Mayflower II Launch: September 7, 2019 – Video, You|Tube
Peter Padfield’s Address
I would like to welcome you all to this book launch. I am Peter Padfield – and thank you all very much for taking the trouble to come this evening – instead of doing something interesting! Welcome!
There are only four surviving members of the officers and crew who sailed
Mayflower to America in 1957. We had hoped to have three here this evening – the 2nd Mate, Adrian Small, and David Thorpe. I’m afraid both have health problems and could not make it. The fourth member, John Winslow, a direct descendant of pilgrims who made the original voyage, lives in Australia. He thought it a little far to come!
So, I regret I am the only relic of the 1957 voyage here this evening. And, unlike the ship herself, I have not been granted a multi-million dollar refit. I’ll do the best I can.
I think the important thing to say at the beginning – apart from how brilliantly Mayflower was crafted here in Brixham with traditional methods – wooden bolts, trenails, as just one example – is the spirit in which the project was conceived. It was at the time of the Cold War, and Warwick Charlton, the driving force behind the project, wanted to donate the replica Mayflower to the United States both as a ‘thankyou’ for coming into the 2 nd World War on our side, and as a symbol of the enduring ties of freedom and democracy we shared – which had, in fact been introduced to America by the original Pilgrim Fathers.
This remains, in my view, an important objective of the celebrations which will take place on the 400th anniversary of the original voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers next year, 2020.
I can’t claim to have been filled with this vision in 1957. I was 25 years old, knew nothing, and simply couldn’t believe my luck in being chosen by Alan Villiers for the crew. I looked forward to a big adventure.
The second thing I should, perhaps, say is also with hindsight. While the skipper, Alan Villiers, probably knew the dangers inherent in sailing a type of vessel no one had handled for centuries across the wild Atlantic – and perhaps his officers also had inklings – I and I guess most of the crew were not apprehensive. As I say, we looked forward to an awfully big adventure.
And what a crew Villiers selected! My book is dedicated to them. Nothing illustrates their exceptional quality better than the fact that although we were cramped together in stinky conditions – below decks at any rate, up on deck it was marvellous – there was only one real quarrel during the whole voyage.
The officers Villiers chose were also exceptionally fine men, individuals who hadchosen a life in sail at a time when steamships were chasing commercial sail from the oceans. Villiers himself was a splendid example, an inspiring leader and experienced sailor who really cared for his men.Perhaps I can sum it all up with a quote from Godfrey Wicksteed, the 1 st Mate: ‘There is no greater satisfaction in life than pulling in the second turn of a rollinghitch. Why do you chase after all these pleasures?’