On a Whaleboat Expedition to Mystic

Today, summer begins at Mystic Seaport – The Museum of America and the Sea, Mystic, CT, as the 22nd Annual WoodenBoat Show kicks off. It is the seventh year in a row that the WoodenBoat Show is held at the Museum. As usual more than 100 exhibitors and vendors will have beautiful wooden boats on display, making it one of the largest wooden boat shows in the USA, drawing approximately 13,000 Museum visitors to the banks of the Mystic River during this three-day event, 28-30 June.

This year there are some special exhibitors, who are building whaleboats for the Museum’s 1841 whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan, which is the last of her kind in the world. During a five-year period Mystic Seaport has restored the Morgan in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. She will be launched into the Mystic River on her 172nd birthday, 21 July this year. Thereafter, she will be fitted and rigged so next May she will go back to sea for a ceremonial 38th Voyage, revisiting some of the New England harbours where she once anchored during her whaling heydays.

The Morgan will have seven newly built whaleboats on board. These boats are part of a ten-boat national project to construct replica whaleboats. The organisations building these 28-30-foot long open boats for Mystic Seaport are: the Independence Seaport Museum of Philadelphia, PA; Rocking the Boat of Bronx, NY; Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway of Vineyard Haven, MA; the New Bedford Whaling Museum/Beetle Boat Shop of Wareham, MA; the Great Lakes Boat Building School of Cedarville, MI; The Apprenticeshop of Rockland, ME; Alexandria Seaport Foundation of Alexandria, VA; Lake Champlain Maritime Museum of Ferrisburgh, VT; Wooden Boat Factory of Philadelphia, PA; and Lowell’s Boat Shop of Amesbury, MA. The seven first organisations on this list will actually be displaying their whaleboats during the WoodenBoat Show.

The boat builders from the Maine based Apprenticeshop will arrive in style as they have rowed and sailed their whaleboat on a 350-mile voyage from Maine to Mystic, starting on 16 June and planning to arrive today. On board the boat is Captain Bryan McCarthy, Apprenticeshop director, at the helm, apprentices Rachel Davis, Daniel Creisher, Simon Jack, Garrett Farchione, Tim Jacobus and Pat Lydon. They have been accompanied by chase boat Advent. The crew has been sharing photographs, videos and daily updates on The Apprenticeshop’s Facebook page and blog.

HTBS welcomes all the whaleboat crews to Mystic!

For those who are interested in learning more about the ten-whaleboat national project, in the current issue of the Mystic Seaport Magazine, which is now available on-line, Mystic Seaport’s Morgan Restoration Project historian Matthew Stackpole has written an article about building whaleboats for the Morgan, on pages 10-12 (on page 12 there is also an article about whaleboat racing!). Go to the on-line version of Mystic Seaport Magazine, here.

Photos above © John Snyder/Marine Media

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