ancestryink fisherman

Monday, July 22, 2013

Maritime Monday: Launching of the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport

The 1841 whaleship, Charles W. Morgan, was launched into the Mystic River, this weekend, after five years of restoration.

Launch Ceremony attended by many
The ship was launched on her 172nd birthday.  She is the oldest commercial vessel in existence and made 37 whaling voyages in her lifetime.  Her 38th voyage, which will take place in May 2014, after her interior and rigging is restored, will take the Charles W. Morgan to various ports of New England, including New Bedford and Vineyard Haven, on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ric Burns (not sure if he is related to the well-known Ken Burns) gave the keynote address.

More about the launch and facts and video about the restoration process, can be seen at the Mystic Seaport website.  

The New York Times, Hartford Courant, and The Washington Post also carried news of the launch, this past weekend.

A touching and significant part of the launch ceremony was the breaking of the bottle on the bow of the C. W. Morgan by Sarah Bullard, the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Waln Morgan, the original owner.  The bottle was not filled with champagne.  Instead, it contained waters gathered from each of the seas traveled by the Charles W. Morgan on her various whaling voyages.

Another notable fact is that the C. W. Morgan's whaleboats were contracted out to various boat yards around the country.  One of these is the highly-esteemed wooden boat builder Gannon & Benjamin, of Vineyard Haven. 

Gannon & Benjamin's whaleboat for the C.W. Morgan
Having lived on Martha's Vineyard for nearly 30 years, I know both owners and many, many Vineyard people who have worked for them.  Their work is exquisite and their adherence to the traditions and art of wooden boat building is admired across many seas and borders. 

You can follow news updates of the Charles W. Morgan over the coming year, at the Mystic Seaport website.

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