Mystic Whaler is sold, will head to California
New London — The Mystic Whaler, a fixture along the southeastern Connecticut coast for the past 54 years, has been sold to a California maritime museum.
The 83-foot-long, steel-hulled schooner is set to depart Wednesday from the Mystic Seaport Museum for Fort Lauderdale, Fla. where it will the be placed aboard a ship for the trip to California.
John Eginton, who has captained the ship for the past 38 years and owned it with his wife, Pat, since 1995, said he sold it last week to a California couple on behalf of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, where it will be used primarily for education programs for school groups.
"This is a bittersweet time for us. Mystic Whaler has been our livelihood and our life for three decades, and we're saddened to see her leave her home waters. But, it is a great relief to know that the schooner has a secure future and a noble mission ahead," the Egintons said in statement announcing the sale.
The ship was built in Florida in 1967 and that year began offering one- to five-day sailing cruises out of Mystic along with brunch, lunch, dinner and sunset cruises and environmental education programs. In 2006, the schooner moved to City Pier, where it has operated since and participated in various maritime festivals in the city.
The schooner carries 3,000 to 4,000 passengers each year from from May to October. In 2018, both Connecticut Magazine and Yankee Magazine named it the best coastal cruise in Connecticut. In 2019, the Mystic Whaler opened a new office adjacent to Union Station and across from the Water Street parking garage, in the former bus terminal building.
The ship is a reproduction of a late 19th-century coastal cargo schooner with 3,000 square feet of sail and a diesel engine. It carries 52 passengers on day sails and 31 on overnight trips. It features Italian oak floors and fir wainscoting with mahogany accents along with six bathrooms with hot showers. It was rebuilt in 1993.
John Egintown said he and his wife put the schooner on the market four years ago, expecting it would take that long to sell it.
"We knew this day would come. It's been a good run,'" he said. "We are very pleased it's going to a good home."
His last trip on the boat will be this week when he sails it down to Florida. Eginton said he will continue to captain boats at Mystic Seaport.