The Charles W. Morgan Sails Again - Sail Magazine

The Charles W. Morgan Sails Again

The Charles W Morgan, the oldest ship in America, takes off on its 38th voyage, visiting towns in New England including New Bedford, the site of its birth over 200 years ago
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
at-Chubbs-Wharf_-June-2005

One hundred and seventy-three years after it embarked on its maiden voyage, whaling vessel Charles W. Morgan, the oldest American commercial ship still afloat, is once again plying the coastlines of New England, this time ready to give locals a glimpse into what it was like to live onboard during whaling’s golden age.

In May 2014, the Charles W. Morgan set off from Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT, for the first time since she last pulled into that dock, back in November 1941, following an eighty-year long career on the high seas. From Mystic, she will spend her 38th voyage visiting New London, CT; Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard; New Bedford, MA (where she was constructed in 1841) and Boston, MA.

 Map of the Morgan's 38th Voyage

Map of the Morgan's 38th Voyage

Along the way, the Morgan will bring along an entire dockside exhibition with live demonstrations, music and waterfront activities. Visitors will also have the chance to step aboard and tour the ship to learn about the Morgan’s storied past right from her deck—and storied it is.

The Charles W. Morgan, a wooden whaleship—today the only remaining of its kind—stretches 113 feet long and 27 feet wide. She was built fit to sail the globe—chasing whales through violent storms and even surviving an onboard fire, as well as close encounters with cannibals.

The Morgan became widely known as a lucky ship, not only because of the dangers through which she prevailed, but also because of how astoundingly profitable she was within whaling industry. Over the course of her 80-year career she earned nearly $1.4 million dollars, almost $20 million by today’s standards.

 The Charles W. Morgan Mystic Seaport 1947

The Charles W. Morgan Mystic Seaport 1947

After she retired in 1921, Charles W. Morgan made a quick foray into the world of show business and was featured in the silent film Down to the Sea in Ships (1922) and in the British drama Java Head (1934), before Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green bought her. Green worked to restore her and then docked her as an exhibition at his estate in South Dartmouth, MA until his death in 1936.

For the next several years the Charles W. Morgan withstood both abandonment and the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, which struck the Long Island Sound area at a peak gust of 186 MPH and left 2,600 ships destroyed—but not the Morgan.

In 1941 the Mystic Seaport acquired the ship and transformed it into a floating historical exhibit. She was named a National Landmark in 1966 and has welcomed over 20 million visitors during her time in Mystic.

In 2008 the folks at Mystic Seaport realized the old girl was in dire need of a major facelift, and began a new phase of restoration to get the ship ocean-ready once again. Much of the five-year period of restoration that followed centered on renewing the ship’s hull, as well as work on its rigging and interior.

Captain Kip Files stepped up to the helm, making him the ship’s 22nd captain. Files owns and captains the 132-foot three-masted schooner and United States National Landmark Victory Chimes, and captains Elissa, a 207-foot barque owned by the Galveston Historical Foundation and Texas Seaport Museum.

What’s perhaps most special about the ship’s journey is that she’ll be returning home to New Bedford, MA, the same coastal town where she was born almost two centuries ago. Her stop in New Bedford is personal for local residents, many of whom are descendants of the ship’s original crewmembers. The City of New Bedford will be welcoming her with great fanfare over the course of a nine-day homecoming.

 New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

“The ties between the Morgan and New Bedford are profound,” said City of New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “We’re proud to host the Morgan, and even more proud to give residents and visitors an opportunity to celebrate New Bedford’s rich history as a thriving seaport.”

Festivities include a homecoming ceremony followed by an evening gala and the Buzzard’s Bay Swim on June 28; whaleboat races on June 29; a whaling history symposium from June 30-July 3; Fourth of July celebrations; the New Bedford Folk Festival on July 5 in New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park; and an official closing ceremony and bon voyage party on July 6. For more on the Morgan and her 38th voyage, visit Mystic Seaport.

Photo Credits: Mystic Seaport, New Bedford Whaling Historic National Park

Related

180621-X01-Landing-Page

Volvo Ocean Race Cliffhanger

After racing over 44,000 miles round the world and battling their way past the world’s great capes, including the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, it’s all come down to the final 700-mile leg from Gothenburg, Sweden, to the Hague. Brunel, Mapfre, Dongfeng: going into the ...read more

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozen of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more

180612-01 Landing lead

Painful Sailing in Volvo Leg 10

It’s looking to be a case of feast or famine for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean fleet as it continues the epic struggle that has been Leg 10, with it having been all famine thus far. Painful is the only word to describe the light-air start in Cardiff, Wales, on June 10, as the 11-boat ...read more