On the weekend of May 17th, the whaling barque CHARLES W. MORGAN will make her first port of call in over seventy years with a stop at New London’s City Pier. This will also mark the first visit by a wooden whaling ship to New London in nearly a century, an event which is part of the MORGAN‘s historic 38th voyage. So historic is this voyage that the United States Coast Guard has designated the required permitting as “an event of national significance.”
When the MORGAN first came to Mystic some 75 years ago, she was set in a berth of gravel, with the quite reasonable expectation that age and decay had relegated her to a role as permanent display. And then a remarkable revelation and a new frame of mind emerged; first, the discovery that the ship could be floated, leading to decades as floating, mostly static, display; then, the restoration of these past five years, and the bold decision to return her to her native element.
The 38th voyage of the MORGAN has planned visits to Newport RI, Nantucket Island, New Bedford and Boston, MA, and points in-between. But the choice of New London, once America’s second most productive whaling port, was made for practical reasons, befitting that history and the working aspects of sailing America’s oldest commercial vessel. The Morgan will be docking in New London for final outfitting, the rigging of spars, bending on of sails, and loading of ballast, operations not possible at her home port of Mystic.
These events, set amidst this voyage of a lifetime, will be held on May 24 and 25, and again on May 31 and June 1st. The Charles W. Morgan will then make several trial sails, to allow her captain and crew to learn the intricacies of handling this revered ship. At the conclusion of her 38th voyage, the Morgan will return to New London, fully rigged this time. This entire process affords a one-time opportunity for today’s children to tell tomorrow’s heirs that, once, they witnessed a wooden whaling ship under sail in New London harbor.