The Morgan Returns to New Bedford

The Morgan Returns to New Bedford
The Charles W. Morgan entering New Bedford. Photo/Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport sailed the whaleship Charles W. Morgan to a celebratory homecoming at her original homeport of New Bedford on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. The Morgan, a National Historic Landmark and America’s oldest commercial vessel still afloat, was built and launched in New Bedford in 1841, and sailed from there for most of her lengthy whaling career.

After a comprehensive restoration that lasted more than 5 years, the ship is on a ceremonial 38th voyage to historic ports in Southern New England. Her last voyage, her 37th, ended in 1921. She sailed to New Bedford from Vineyard Haven.

“History has never been so alive as it was just now when we brought the Charles W. Morgan through the hurricane barrier at the mouth of the harbor. To see the people of New Bedford turn out to welcome us and show how they appreciate the project and how it validates the great history of this city was a great moment for all of us.” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport.

The Morgan’s homecoming to New Bedford is a major event for the city, which was once the largest whaling port in the world. The ship was last in New Bedford in November 1941, and has not returned since.

The Morgan will be docked at New Bedford’s State Pier June 28 to July 6, 2014, and visitors are invited to board the National Historic Landmark vessel and explore an accompanying dockside exhibition. Accompanying the Morgan will be the 10 new whaleboats that were built for the ship’s recent restoration.

The boats will participate in the following events:

Sunday, June 29, 12:30 p.m.: Boat Parade

  • A festive Parade of Boats will celebrate the Charles W. Morgan New Bedford Homecoming on Sunday, June 29, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Watch as the Morgan‘s whaleboats, rowing shells, recreational boats, commercial fishing vessels, public safety vessels, tugs and other commercial vessels make their way down New Bedford Harbor.

Saturday, July 5, 10:30 a.m.: Whaleboat Skills Challenge at State Pier

  • Watch a lighthearted competition where crews demonstrate their expertise in maneuvering whaleboats. In front of the State Pier, two boats at a time will run through a 360 turn, a slalom, a quick stop, and a one-armed row while waving. Teams will be judged on speed, precision, and the most convincing wave. The overall winner will be declared “Greatest Whaleboat Crew of 2014.”
  • If you are interested in entering the skills challenge, please CLICK HERE for more information.

Saturday, July 5, 1:30 p.m.: Whaleboat Races

  • The featured (“pro”) race is a re-enactment of a 2½-mile, 1857 Independence Day whaleboat race. The race follows the course from State Pier out around Palmer’s Island and then returns. Boats will start 2 minutes apart so that they can get through the passage between the island and the dike one at a time. The whaleboat and crew with the best time wins the silver pitcher replica of the 1857 award.
  • A second (“amateur”) race will use the same starting line and a pair of buoys set short of Palmer’s Island. Depending on the number of teams entered, heats of up to five boats will be staged, with awards given to the best times. The amateur race is about 1¼ miles long and will run after the featured race.
  • If you are interested in participating in the whaleboat races, please CLICK HERE for more information.

Sunday, July 6, 10:30 a.m.: Whaleboat Sailing Regatta

  • Watch a friendly competition between two Morgan whaleboats with sailing rigs and two Azorean whaleboats.