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…

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3 thoughts on “Restored 1841 whaler Charles W Morgan makes her first trip in over 70 years”

  1. She is an amazing survival and restoration. We visited in 2004 on the way from NYC to Boston on Europa. She was looking a bit down at heel then – swimming and firmly trapped in a small hole of liquid mud by the wharf – but we got an impression of how she would have been when she was whaling. Maybe now that she has been prettied up that will be harder to imagine. But then after whaling she was a school ship for many years – so she’s had a hard life. Its a pity that there are no other sailing whalers on exhibition – maybe if folks realised the horrendous cruelty to both whales and men in the old days we wouldn’t be killing whales today.

  2. Yes indeed…how about a new Cutty Sark..could easily have been built with the money they’ve wasted creating a giant Damien Hirst corporate lunch venue….could even have used it as a project to restart big boat building in Dumbarton….Oh well ..might as well dream here as in bed….

  3. The Dutch have a beautiful new tallship Stad Amsterdam. Its the size of Cutty Sark – so its possible to build such things for real sailing – but alas not for carrying cargo.

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