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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Chris Old and Chris Stone build a glued-clinker Whitehall at the Boat Building Academy

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As promised, Boat Building Academy principal Yvonne Green has sent us some more photos from the big student launch day at Lyme last month.

This is despite being frantically busy setting up a new eight-week course on  woodworking skills – the course needs a new workshop, and I gather the Academy’s short courses in particular are attracting huge numbers of enquiries.

Here’s what she has to say about the boat in these photos:

Chris Old, a doctor of oceanography from New Zealand, and Chris Stone, and aerospace industry computer engineer by background, built a very elegant glued-clinker Whitehall skiff. The offsets and lines were taken from a book by John Gardner, founder of the Mystic Seaport Museum’s boatbuilding courses.

‘White paintwork was highlighted by varnished khaya gunwales, thwarts and trim. Lyme Regis’ Mayor  Sally Holman was particularly taken with this boat, as am I.’

I gather the  boat was built to a set of offsets for a 14ft Whitehall included in the Gardner compendium volume Building Classic Small Craft: Complete Plans and Instructions for 47 Boats, which includes plans for an impressive 47 boats and is currently available for the knock-down price of £19.99 from Amazon. See more Gardner books at Amazon here.

For more posts relating to the Boat Building Academy, click here.

I think we may be seeing an increase in interest in Whitehalls in the UK. For more posts relating to these boats click here, and for posts relating to John Gardner click here.


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