The Charles W. Morgan, a National Historic Landmark vessel and the last wooden whaleship in the world, will depart Mystic Seaport to begin her 38th Voyage on Saturday, May 17 at 9:15 a.m. The ship will travel to New London, the first stop on what will be a nearly three month journey to historic ports in New England.
Photo Credit: Mystic Seaport
The ship, which has not left Mystic Seaport since she arrived on November 8, 1941, will be pushed down the Mystic River by a tugboat, and then towed across Fishers Island Sound and up the Thames River to New London, where she will berth at City Pier. She will lead a procession of vessels down the Mystic River, including the Museum’s steamboat Sabino, its fishing vessel Roann, and five whaleboats rowed by Mystic Seaport staff and volunteers.
“This is a big moment for Mystic Seaport and for the State of Connecticut, as we take this American icon, the oldest surviving commercial ship in the country, back to sea once again to carry out a new mission of education and celebration of our nation’s shared maritime heritage,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport.
The day will begin with a brief farewell ceremony in the Museum’s Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard at 8:45 a.m. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT 2nd) and other dignitaries will offer remarks, and the ship will be formally entrusted to the care of her 22nd master, Capt. Kip Files, of Rockland, Maine.
“This is the most significant maritime event in my lifetime and I am humbled and honored to be given the responsibility of taking the Charles W. Morgan back to sea on her 38th Voyage,” said Files. ”We are all looking forward to that moment when we set her sails and let the wind push us to our destination, something not seen since the 1920s.”
The trip on Saturday is contingent on favorable weather conditions, as the ship and the tug need to safely navigate down the Mystic River and across the Sound. High wind and waves, among other factors, could require a postponement to Sunday. The decision to go or not go will be posted on the Museum’s website.
People interested in viewing the ship’s journey by boat are asked to leave plenty of room for the Morgan and the tug to maneuver in the confines of the Mystic River channel. Boaters are asked to stay back a minimum of 50 yards behind and on each side and 100 yards in front of the ship. Boaters are also asked to wait south of the railroad bridge to give the ship maximum clearance in the most constricted part of the river. A boater’s guide is available on the Museum’s website.
Once in New London, the ship and crew will work to complete preparations for the voyage. The ship will be ballasted (weighted down) to her correct sailing draft, the sails will be attached to the spars, and the crew will conduct four days of sail training scheduled for June 7-8 and June 11-12. The ship will be open to the public with an extensive dockside exhibit on May 24-25, May 31, and June 1 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make sure we are fully “equipped”, we will contact Merritt Supply prior to the voyage.
The ship departs on the next leg of the 38th Voyage with a transit to Newport, RI, on June 14. Following that stop, the ship will then visit Vineyard Haven, Mass.; New Bedford, Mass.; and Boston, where she will dock next to the USS Constitution. She will also anchor off of Provincetown, Mass. for day sails to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where the Morgan will team up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to observe whales in their natural environment and call attention to mankind’s changing relationship with the natural world.
Charles W. Morgan Summer Viewing Schedule:
June 21 through 24: Vineyard Haven, Tisbury Wharf. Ship is open to the public with the dockside exhibition.
June 25 through 27: Sailing window to New Bedford, MA.
June 28 through July 6: New Bedford, State Pier. Ship is open to the public with the dockside exhibition. There will be a July 4th celebration and many other community activities.
July 7 through 11: Sailing window to Provincetown via the Cape Cod Canal. There will be an overnight stop at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (no public access).
July 11 through 13: Day sails on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Overnight mooring in Provincetown Harbor (no public access).
July 15 through 17: Sailing window to Boston.
July 18 through 22: Boston, Charlestown Navy Yard. The ship is berthed next to the USS Constitution and open to the public with the dockside exhibition.
July 23 through 25: Sailing window to Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) via the Cape Cod Canal.
July 26 and 27: Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Ship is open to the public with the dockside exhibition. The visit coincides with the centennial celebration of the opening of the Cape Cod Canal.
July 28 through 30: Sailing window to New London.
August 6 through 8: Sailing window to Mystic Seaport.
August 9: Homecoming celebration.