Morgan preparing for two-month voyage

The whaling ship Charles W. Morgan is towed up the Mystic River to its Chubb's Wharf berth at Mystic Seaport following minor repairs and maintenance in 1996. A much more extensive, five-year restoration is nearly complete.

Mystic - Mystic Seaport has announced that the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, which is nearing the end of its five-year restoration, will leave the museum May 17 for a two-month journey that will take it to historic New England ports.

Over the next five months, workers in the museum will be busy installing the masts and rigging as well as a diesel generator and pump and safety equipment needed for the voyage. The three latter items will be removed after the voyage ends on Aug. 9.

When it leaves the Seaport on May 17, the Morgan's first and longest stop will be in New London, where it will spend a month getting ready for the trip, installing the remaining ballast and going on training cruises.

This work cannot be done in Mystic because the Mystic River is too shallow for the entire ballast to be installed. The Thames River in New London is much deeper, as its channel has been dredged to accommodate submarines and massive cargo vessels.

The Morgan will be open to the public with a dockside exhibition on May 24, 25 and 31 and June 1.

Between June 14 and 16, there is a three-day window for the Morgan to make the one-day passage to Newport, R.I., where it is slated to be open to the public June 17 at Fort Adams State Park.

During all of the passages, the Morgan will be accompanied by a tugboat, the restored fishing vessel Roann and a 26-foot inflatable boat.

While the goal is to sail the Morgan as much as possible, Seaport spokeswoman Sarah Spencer said Thursday that the tugboat will tow the Morgan into docks and when conditions are not suitable for sailing. The Morgan has no engine.

At most stops, the ship be open to the public with educational programs and dockside exhibitions.

Although each leg of the trip is a one-day sail so the ship can dock before dark, the Seaport has created three-day sailing windows. These will allow the ship to sail in the best conditions.

The rest of the schedule is as follows:

• June 18-20 - Sailing window to Martha's Vineyard

• June 21-24 - At Tisbury Wharf, Vineyard Haven

• June 25-27 - Sailing window to New Bedford, Mass., where the Morgan was built and launched in 1841.

• June 28-July 6 - At State Pier in New Bedford. It will also participate in a July 4th celebration and community activities.

• July 7-11 - Sailing window to Provincetown via the Cape Cod Canal. Overnight stop at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (no public access).

• July 12-14 - The Morgan will conduct day sails in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and moor overnight in Provincetown Harbor (no public access).

• July 15-17 - Sailing window to Boston

• July 18-22 - In Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard where the Morgan, the country's oldest commercial vessel still afloat, will be docked next to the USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat.

• July 23-25 - Sailing window to Massachusetts Maritime Academy via the Cape Cod Canal

• July 26-27 - At Massachusetts Maritime Academy for the centennial celebration of the opening of the Cape Cod Canal

• July 28-30 - Sailing window to New London

• Aug. 6-8 - Sailing window to Mystic

• Aug. 9 - Return to Mystic Seaport

The 172-year-old Morgan, the world's last wooden whaling ship, made 37 profitable voyages from 1841 to 1921. It arrived at the Seaport in 1941. A National Historic Landmark, it is the museum's symbol and arguably its most prized artifact.

Last month, the Seaport named Richard "Kip" Files of Rockland, Maine, as the captain for the voyage.


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