My Cart

May flowers bring … Pilgrims???

Mariners’ Museum model of the merchant vessel Mayflower (1606-1624)

The rainy weather this last week of April caused me to make an idle remark to my husband about April showers bringing May flowers. With a sly look on his face, he asked me what May flowers bring.

Now I am the youngest child of 2 youngest children and have no children of my own. I had absolutely no clue he was talking about the groan-worthy second grade joke about Mayflowers bringing Pilgrims. I can see you now, gentle reader, wincing at the memory.

But beyond the famous Pilgrim-carrying ship of the early-17th century, there were lots of ships named Mayflower, some with storied pasts, and other just beautiful to behold.

Mayflower leading Galatea around the Lightship, by J. E. Buttersworth.

For fans of America’s Cup, there is the winner of the 6th cup named Mayflower, so beautifully captured in her 1886 race against Galatea by the great maritime artist James Edward Buttersworth. The artist shows the sloop as she has completed her turn around the Sandy Hook Lightship. The sloop has set her full-bellied sails, while Galatea is still tacking around, her sails shivering. A dramatic moment in which the American pulls ahead and stays there.

Mayflower, by Beken and Son of Cowes

Then of course, those with long memories may recall the presidential yacht named Mayflower. This steam yacht, in a great undated photograph by Beken of Cowes, was a picture of luxury and great design. Mayflower (PY-1) served with distinction in the Spanish-American War before becoming a yacht in 1905 to 3 United States presidents: Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson and Coolidge. Mayflower also saw Coast Guard service during World War II before being scrapped in 1946.

My favorite Mayflower, though, is a Nantasket Beach steamer built in 1891. An excursion side wheel steamer with a gorgeously painted and designed

The steamer paddle box paying homage to the original Mayflower

paddle box, this Mayflower took Bostonians weary from the summer’s heat out to the Paragon Amusement Park at Nantasket Beach. A fun boat!!! It also had one of the strangest ends for a steamboat to ever meet: it became a dance hall literally on the beach! Enjoy a few photos of her here.

Side wheel steamer Mayflower, by famous maritime photographer Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins
Mayflower as newly hauled up on the beach. Photo by William B. Taylor
The big push! Mayflower being pushed up on the beach at Hull, MA. Photo by William B. Taylor
Mayflower’s paddle box design under went changes. Originally it bore the flower seen echoed in the steamer’s cabin wallpaper.
The upper deck of Mayflower, with the Paragon’s roller coaster Comet seen in the distance. Photo from Elwin Eldredge Collection.
Photo postcard showing Mayflower as a nightclub. On the beach at Hull, MA. Burned, 1979.

So, Mayflowers do indeed bring Pilgrims … and Presidents … and racers … and dancers!

Scroll to Top