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Whaling Ship Charles W. Morgan has 80 Years Between Voyages

Updated on July 20, 2014
Looking good with sails up.
Looking good with sails up.

Voyages Start Off The Same Way

The Charles W. Morgan was resting in port for 80 years between voyages. The voyage in 1921 and the voyage in 2014 both started off the same way. There were two different crews, in two different states, but the same results; the Morgan ran aground. The Morgan needs 17 feet of water just to float.

It was a cold November day in 1941 when the Morgan was pulled away from Union Wharf in Fairhaven, Massachusetts by the Coast Guard cutter General Greene. The wind pushed the Morgan towards the Fairhaven Bridge. In an attempt to stop the vessel, the crew on the General Greene shortened the tow lines. The Morgan continued to drift starboard, (right side) and hit a sandbar. She sat for two hours waiting for the tide to rise.

May 17, 2014 the Morgan was towed from her home at Mystic Seaport by a tugboat. At the mouth of the Mystic River she ran aground on the muddy bottom. This time she did not have to wait for the water to rise. She was pushed by the tugboat and continued her almost four hour trip to City Pier in New London, Connecticut.

Why New London? The harbor is deep, well needed as indicated by the grounding in the Mystic River. Ballast is added weights used to stabilize ships. “Lead pigs” are brick shaped ballast made of lead and concrete. They are added below the decks and sometimes added to outside of modern ships. While in New London some of the ballast had to be removed and readjusted.

Built To Last

The Morgan is a barque (bark) that means she has 3 masts, with square sails on the front and main mast and also square sails on the fore and after sail on the mizzen. The mizzen is the mast that is located in the stern or back of the vessel. The Morgan is a National Historic Landmark, the oldest working American Commercial ship still floating and the last wooden whale ship in the world.

The Morgan was built to last, not for speed. As a whaling ship between July 1841 and May, 1921, she made 37 voyages. This good will trip is promoted as its’ 38th voyage. This is a historical event as the ship is promoting the rich maritime history of New England shores. The restoration took more than five years and more than 7.5 million dollars. Some estimates are as high as 12 million. The staff working on the restoration realized the vessel would be ship-shape and sea-worthy. This started the dream of a 38th voyage.

'Spouter' Travels with Vessel

The reality started June 17, 2014 when the Charles W. Morgan left New London and sailed to Newport, Rhode Island. After leaving Newport the Morgan will visit, Vineyard Haven, New Bedford, Provincetown, Boston, Bourne , all in Massachusetts and return to Mystic, Connecticut. Keeping with the goals of Mystic Seaport, the voyages is an educational venture. The theme focuses on the history of the vessel and the history of the whaling industry.

Traveling with the Morgan is ‘spouter.’ Spouter is a life-size inflatable sperm whale. He is 46 feet long and made in Minnesota. Children are encouraged to write stories and draw pictures of whaling events and attach them to a humpback whale sculpture. Promoting interaction with the public is part of what makes this voyage special.

The Morgan will be open to the public as part of the Mystic Seaport upon her return. If you want to know more about this voyage visit, mysticseaport.org/38thvoyage/

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    • Dianemae profile image
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      Dianemae 3 years ago

      Glad you learned something new today. Thanks for reading.

    • Taranwanderer profile image

      Taranwanderer 3 years ago

      I never knew this - cool information and voted up!

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