MYSTIC, Conn. (AP) — The Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving ship from America's 19th -century whaling fleet, was undergoing final preparations Friday for its first voyage in almost a century.
The 173-year-old ship is scheduled to be pushed by a tug boat down the Mystic River and into the Thames River in New London on Saturday morning.
Plans call for it to stay there for a month. It will get its ballast, complete its rigging and go on training cruises in Fishers Island Sound before setting sail on June 14 on a tour of historic New England ports.
This will be the ship's 38th voyage and first since 1921. It follows a six-year, $10.6 million restoration at Mystic Seaport.
"Ships are made to go to sea, and by taking her out and actually sailing her again, we are helping the Morgan fulfill her mission and do what she was made to do," Seaport President Stephen White told The Day of New London.
The 113-foot vessel was originally launched in July 1841 in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
It plans stops there and in Newport, Rhode Island; Martha's Vineyard; Provincetown, Massachusetts; and Boston this summer before heading back to Mystic.
An exhibit on the boat, America's whaling history and whales will travel with the ship. It includes a 50-foot-long inflatable sperm whale made of vinyl-covered nylon. Artisans such as a cooper and a shipsmith will demonstrate their work, singers will perform sea shanties and officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will talk about whale research.
The ship still has about 18 percent of its original wood, including the keel first laid in New Bedford.
But it also has been outfitted with some modern conveniences, such as pumps, generators, lighting and a fire suppression system. It is not being equipped with a motor, and a tug will accompany it throughout its journey to help when it is not under sail.
Those modern systems will be removed when the Morgan returns to Mystic in August.
There are no future voyages scheduled and plans call for the ship to return to the Mystic Seaport museum as a floating exhibit. The Morgan is a National Historic Landmark and has been a major attraction at the museum since it was towed there in 1941.
Rain was forecast for Saturday. Museum officials said that would not affect the Morgan's trip to New London, but any high waves or winds could force postponement of the move until Sunday.