Tag Archives: whaler

Restored 1841 whaler Charles W Morgan makes her first trip in over 70 years

Maine-built 1841 whaling ship Charles W Morgan has been towed down river from Mystic Seaport, where she has been kept since 1941, to New London. Read all about her story and find many more photos here.

Happily over the last five years she has been restored at Mystic’s Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard.

At New London she will be ballasted and tested for stability, and her sails will be bent. The photo above shows her crew throwing heaving lines as the ship tied up – the davits all round her will shortly bear her magnificent new whaleboats.

She’s about to set out on her 38th voyage, which will take place this summer in company of two tugs provided by Tisbury Towing of Martha’s Vineyard and the Seaport Museum’s eastern-rigged dragger Roann.

I saw the Charles W Morgan at Mystic many years ago and wondered what her future might be. This seems like a great result – and makes me wonder how it would be if we in the UK got around to building a new clipper. Now wouldn’t that be something…

PS – And how about a string of new small workshops and yards around our coast building and maintaining boat types local to their areas using traditional methods, teaching people to sail them and training youngsters while they are at it? The Faversham Creek Trust seems to me to be an excellent example of what could be done much more widely, and they’re not the only ones. Think of Rescue Wooden Boats… In the past with only a few teaching establishments, they haven’t always had that local focus.

It may be controversial to say so, but I do feel that – sailing barges aside – sailing the larger traditional boats is only open to folks who can afford to keep them and the friends they invite to help sail them – it seems like a closed kind of club, and in the long term I worry that situation will not help in keeping the boats going…

Abner’s whale, from the Cruise of the Cachalot

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‘We went alone, with barely a hundred fathoms of line, in case he should take it into his head to sound again. The speed at which we went made it appear as if a gale of wind was blowing, and we flew along the sea surface’

Everyone’s heard of Melville’s blockbusting novel Moby Dick – but perhaps fewer know about Frank T Bullen’s real-life description The Cruise of the Cachalot or Round the world after sperm whales.

My copy was published in 1901 and I think it’s a piece of work that brilliantly captures the cruelty, fear, hardships and excitements the whalers must have known while about their ghastly trade. Here’s a short chapter that I hope makes the point – do take time out to read it; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

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London Whalers explain how to row

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London Whalers at rest

The London Whalers have put up a page explaining how to row, and I like what they say. Feathering is optional but regarded as helpful in a headwind! Well, I do it sometimes, and sometimes I don’t. Either way, the site’s well worth a look.

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Racing Montagu whalers off Auckland

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Whalers racing off Auckland many years ago; as usual, click
on the thumbnail for a larger image

Reader Paul Mullings has contacted us with this photo of Naval whalers racing off Auckland, New Zealand many years ago. This is what he says about it:

‘The New Zealand forces used to hold a regatta, at the end of which they challenged a team of representatives from the Auckland Yachting Association to a series raced in the whalers.’

It looks like a hoot to me. These boats’ sportiness is evident: no doubt their length and lightness made them fly in a breeze.

In fact, Paul put a comment on one an earlier post on Montagu whalers in which he reminisced about sailing Montagu whalers when he was a boy:

‘Oh the memories – 45 years or so ago I was a Sea Scout in the 6th Leigh Troop headquatered at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. We had a Montagu whaler at the time and I have ingrained memories of rowing (I think I still have the blisters!) and sailing, what at the time seemed a huge boat. Being long and thin they could really fly under sail in any kind of breeze and I vividly remember storming across the Thames Estuary on more than one occasion bound for the Medway. Happy days!

For more on whalers at intheboatshed.net including one for sale, click here.

27ft type K Montagu whaler

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The Montagu type K whaler

The post announcing that Dick Wynne’s restored whaler Vancouver is up for sale has attracted quite a lot of attention in the last day or two, so I’ve decided to share these snaps from a copy of the 1937 Manual of Seamanship published by the Admiralty.

The rudder and centreboard seem remarkably small, don’t you think? By the way, the trysail in the upper photo is supposed to double as a spinnaker!

Restored 1943 type K Montagu whaler, good condition, for sale in London

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Montagu whaler Vancouver is now sold

Dick Wynne is selling his 27ft 6in type K Montagu whaler. I’m sure it has been a painful decision and it’s a damn shame for all those who have enjoyed crewing her, but no doubt two traditional boats like this is too much for one man!

This could be the offer of a lifetime for someone. Here’s what he says about the boat:

Vancouver is an ex-Royal Navy ship’s boat built in 1943 and lovingly restored and maintained over many years regardless of expense.

Construction is mahogany and larch on oak, with gunwales, thwarts etc in solid teak. She is probably the finest example of the type in existence. Her equipment includes:

- five matching 15ft spruce Admiralty oars plus many spares

- full sailing rig – lug main, jib and mizzen

- 6hp Mariner outboard on a lifting quarter bracket, with lock, and separate fuel tank mounted in sternsheets

- two bilge pumps

- ample buoyancy

- 12 x 150N automatic XM lifejackets with recharging kits

- two paddles for tight spots

- Admiralty pattern anchor

- mooring lines, fenders, full-length tent/cover

- nearly new four-wheel braked trailer with sealed hubs and brake flushing system

All her external paintwork was renewed in 2008, and all her exposed timber stripped of varnish and oiled (with Deks Olje #1 and #2) for ease of maintenance. Although of traditional timber construction, she is in superb condition and is easily maintained so. A faultless recent professional survey report is available to serious enquirers.

She is a robust, stable and versatile workhorse fully equipped for pulling, sailing and motoring in a variety of applications including raids, races, expeditions, pleasure trips under power, race/committee boat use, etc. She would make an excellent school or club boat.

Vancouver has plied the tidal Thames in London under oar and sail for the past few years, and is a regular in the annual Great River Race. She has been trailed farther afield to locations including the East Coast, Western Highlands, and Milford Haven, and attracts much attention wherever she goes. She is only reluctantly for sale as, rather improbably, she is my second boat and I can no longer find the time to do justice to two traditional wooden boats. She is currently lying afloat in London.’

For a pdf including more photos from last year click here, and for more on the boat and what he’s been doing with it, click here.

Also, if you’re curious about what his other boat might be, this photo and the knowledge that he’s a leading member of the Albert Strange Association will probably tell you all you need to know.

Complete with a full inventory including trailer, Dick is asking for £9,500 or offers. Call him on 07990 573160.

We don’t often see whalers, but for some photos of one I spotted in the Fal Estuary some time ago, click here.