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After a memorable, 2 1/2-month tour of New England ports, the whaleship Charles W. Morgan is scheduled to pull away from New London's City Pier this afternoon and return to Mystic Seaport Museum, the final leg of its historic 38th voyage.
We join the region in welcoming the 173-year-old vessel home, and congratulate the captain, crew and museum officials for embarking on such an ambitious and visionary mission.
The Morgan, the world's last surviving wooden whaleship, had spent 80 years sailing the globe before being retired and eventually relocated to Mystic Seaport in 1941.
Six years ago the Seaport launched a multi-million-dollar restoration program to put the Morgan out to sea again - not to hunt whales, but as a good-will ambassador and floating exhibit to show what life was like at sea. The magnificently renovated ship left Mystic May 17 and has visited Newport, R.I.; Vineyard Haven, Mass.; New Bedford, Mass.; the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Boston and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
The voyage included numerous captivating moments, but the one that stands out most in our memory is of a crew rowing a 28-foot whaleboat from the Morgan out to humpback whales feeding off Cape Cod, just as 19th century whalers must have. Of course, there were no harpoons this time.
The museum, one of the region's most popular and venerable tourist attractions, is hoping the Morgan's return will bring in more visitors and renew interest in a bygone era.
We share that sentiment, since a visit to Mystic Seaport is indeed a rewarding experience - even more so with the Morgan home.