The world’s last wooden whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan, is back at her dock at Mystic Seaport at the end of her historic 38th voyage.
A crowd of well-wishers gathered on the waterfront at the Seaport as the Morgan was shepherded up the Mystic River in the evening sunshine by a flotilla of boats. She’s been at sea two months and there was a special welcome for her crew and captain as they stepped ashore.
Captain Kip Files said it was a day for mixed emotions. "It is the most historic marine event of my lifetime, and I was just proud to be a part of it," he told WNPR. "Voyages always come to an end, but the people that made it happen — I’ll miss them the most."
The Morgan surprised her crew by how sweetly she handled. Files said he now understands how she withstood the rigors of her job a hundred years ago. "Thirteen times around The Horn the wrong way — I mean, she had to be good, because she kept doing it. They wouldn’t build a vessel that couldn’t do that, but it even surprised me how well she did things under sail — she was just phenomenal."
The multi-million dollar plan not only to restore the Morgan but to actually take her to sea was an audacious undertaking for the museum. President of Mystic Seaport Steve White said it’s completely changed her value as an artifact for the future. "Beforehand we could only imagine what she was like at sea. We could really only imagine how she was sailed," he said. "And so now we can tell those stories with much deeper understanding and with greater authenticity."
The question everyone is asking is, will there be a 39th voyage? "I think when we started out we were all saying, this is it — there won’t be another one," White said. "It’s been so magnificent. We’ve learned so much. There’s so much enthusiasm for her being at sea, and she’s in such great shape, I suspect there’s going to be pressure to do something like this again."
For now, the Morgan has come home, and she’ll be open to the public once again this Saturday.