Charles W. Morgan / Wikipedia

Charles W. Morgan / Wikipedia

As part of her 5-year, multi-million dollar restoration, the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan has taken an important step in her journey back to sea when on Thursday, October 17 (2013), the staff at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport began the process of stepping the masts.

The Charles W. Morgan. Photo Mystic Seaport

The Charles W. Morgan. Photo Mystic Seaport

The ship was de-rigged and had its masts and spars removed at the outset of the restoration in 2008. Re-installing the masts, known as “stepping” in nautical terminology, is an important occasion during a ship’s construction. Maritime tradition holds that a coin should be placed under the base of a mast for good luck. To mark significant events in the Morgan’s history, three coins have been selected for placement: An 1841 U.S. Silver Dollar, representing the original launch of the Morgan; a 1941 U.S. Silver Half-Dollar, signifying the ship’s arrival at Mystic Seaport; and a 2013 U.S. Silver Dollar, symbolizing the current restoration.

“Each coin represents a milestone in the Morgan’s important story. The ship has survived arctic ice, fire, hurricanes, and more on her 37 voyages spanning the globe. We hope these coins will continue to protect her as she embarks on what may be the most important mission of her career: carrying a cargo of knowledge to celebrate America’s maritime heritage,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport.

The coins will replace the three coins that were removed when the previous masts were taken out in 2008. They were a 1908 Barber Silver Half Dollar, an Eisenhower Silver Dollar dating from 1971-1977 (corrosion made it impossible to read the specific year), and a 1997 U.S. Silver Dollar. Each coin signifies a mast replacement during the Morgan’s career.

Stepping the masts is an extensive process that will take place on two separate days: the foremast was stepped on October 17 and the main and mizzen masts are scheduled to be stepped on October 31.

Read more about the Charles W. Morgan and Mystic Seaport.