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Mystic Seaport seeks 'stowaway' for historic Charles W Morgan voyage this summer

The historic whaling ship Charles W Morgan was built in 1841 in Bedford, Massachusetts.
The historic whaling ship Charles W Morgan was built in 1841 in Bedford, Massachusetts.
Mystic Seaport Museum

The Charles W Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship and the last wooden whaleship in the world. is setting sail for the first time in 80 years, on a three-month adventure and inviting someone with a passion for adventure and the ability to communicate to stow away - and be the "eyes" and "ears" for the rest of the world on the ship's historic, 38th Voyage.

The historic whaling ship Charles W Morgan is looking for an adventurer to be a stowaway on its first sea voyage in 80 years.
Mystic Seaport Museum

To land this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you need to apply to Mystic Seaport, the maritime museum in Connecticut which is home to the Charles W. Morgan and three other landmark vessels, by February 18. To apply, you need to submit a resume, online application including essay, and 60-second YouTube video, by February 18.

The stowaway must be 21 years or older. Prior sailing experience is not required, but curiosity and enthusiasm are a must. It's probably also a good idea to be should be somewhat able-bodied to move about the ship. The stowaway will receive a stipend.

Details are at www.mysticseaport.org/stowaway.

Once all the applications are in, the applicants will be narrowed to the top 10; then the public will be able to vote on the Top 10, and while the public won't have the final decision, they will be able to weigh in.

The stowaway will experience life onboard with the crew, climbing the rigging and hoisting the sails, and exploring historic ports of call – like Boston where the Charles W. Morgan will dock next to the USS Constitution and New Bedford, the whaling capital of the world where the whaling vessel was built in 1841- and venture out amongst the whales off Cape Cod, though this time bearing a message of peace.

The voyage throughout New England follows a $7.5 million, multi-year restoration of the Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest surviving merchant vessel. The 38th Voyage of the Morgan, the Morgan's first sailing adventure in more than 80 years, commemorates America’s maritime heritage.

“This is for someone with a sense of adventure,” said Susan Funk, executive vice president of Mystic Seaport. “The word stowaway brings to mind a romantic image. To take a chance. To not know what you’re getting into until you’re already in it, and to go to places you’ve never been before, or go to places you’ve been, but seeing them in a whole different perspective.”

From May to August, the Charles W. Morgan will stop at historic ports of call throughout New England including visits to New London, Conn.; Newport, R.I.; and Vineyard Haven, New Bedford, and Boston, Mass., where she will dock next to the USS Constitution. She will also anchor off the coast of Provincetown, Mass. for day sails to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where the Morgan will team up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to observe whales in their natural environment.

The stowaway, who will need to be onboard the ship from June 10-August 10, will watch, inquire, learn, participate, and use their creative energy to share the voyage experience with the general public through blogging, videos, social media, and activities in the port cities.

The stowaway will be immersed in all aspects of the Charles W. Morgan’s 38th Voyage while living on board the ship with the crew. The stowaway will learn and take on any jobs associated with living and working on a 19th-century vessel including handling the sails and lines, steering the ship, and scrubbing the decks. The stowaway will be a key player during events and exhibits at each port of call with an opportunity to explore and meet new and interesting people.

The stowaway's responsibilities also include publishing regular blog postings leading up to and throughout the voyage (May-August); producing and appearing in at least 10 short (2-5 minute) video segments; using social media to educate and engage the public in the experience of the voyage, providing a participatory experience and responding to audience questions and interests; generating creative ideas for activities and outreach with input from Mystic Seaport staff; speaking with visitors, media, and guests on a regular basis; and visiting other partner museums and institutions in 38th Voyage port cities

“This is a unique opportunity, a moment in time that won’t come around again,” said Funk. “This person will go into record as the stowaway on board this voyage. This is going to be the Morgan’s most documented voyage ever.”

The Morgan will only be going out for day-sails and not stay at sea overnight. Each night, the ship will be in port, and will stay in some ports for 3-5 days. Only the crew and stowaway will sleep on board.

There will be dozens of people aboard the Morgan including mariners (the captain and first mate), sailing crew, people who are on board for business, guests including academic and museum communities,the donors for the restoration and members of the press plus artists, scientists, poets, scholars, photographers, who are going to do something for the good of the vessel and Mystic Seaport Museum.

For much of the time, the Morgan will be in ports, so people can come aboard to tour the ship, watch the crew as they work, see how the whale boat is lowered and other demonstrations. There will also be various portside activities.

During the portion of the voyage off Cape Cod, the ship will go out with a team from NOAA to study whales - giving the crew, the stowaway and guests a first hand, up close look at whales.

The voyage will be commanded by Captain Kip Files, who has spent his life working with historic sailing vessels and is one of the few people living who can sail a square-rigged sailing ship. A native of Bangor, ME, Kip Files first learned to sail on a lake as a child and got interested in traditional sailing when his father bought an original Friendship sloop. That “32 feet of heaven,” as he describes it, introduced him to the sea and instilled in him a passion for sailing that continues to this day. (He's also a fantastic storyteller.)

Files is presently the captain and co-owner of the 132-foot, three-masted schooner Victory Chimes of Rockland, ME. A member of the Maine Windjammer fleet, the Victory Chimes takes passengers on multi-day cruises of the Maine coastline. The last surviving example of the large schooners that carried cargo up and down the Eastern seaboard, the 114-year old ship is the largest passenger sailing vessel in the United States. Like the Charles W. Morgan, the Victory Chimes has no engine.

For the past 15 years Files has also been the primary captain of the 152-foot bark Elissa, owned and operated by the Galveston Historical Association and the Texas Seaport Museum (the Official Tall Ship of Texas). Built in Scotland in 1877, the three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship has been restored and sails for two weeks of the year, primarily with a volunteer crew.

The Morgan came to Mystic Seaport in 1941, after being left laying in a mudflat in Massachusetts to fall apart, for the lack of funding to save her. Finally, enough money was raised to bring the ship to Mystic Seaport where it was restored.

The 38th voyage of the Charles W Morgan is the most ambitious program that Mystic Seaport has ever undertaken.

Even if you aren't the stowaway, a crew member or a guest, you can still enjoy the Charles W Morgan at its various ports (see sidebar: Itinerary and Port Exhibition Schedule).

More details are at www.mysticseaport.org/stowaway

Mystic Seaport is a leading maritime museum in the nation. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan. Mystic Seaport is also where a replica of the Amistad was built. The museum is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. Admission is $24 for adults and $15 for children ages 6-17. Museum members and children 5 and under are admitted free. For more information, visit www.mysticseaport.org.

38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan

Itinerary and Port Exhibition Schedule

The 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan will begin with a month-long fitting out period in New London, CT. Due to the shallow depth of the Mystic River; the ship cannot be properly ballasted for sailing at her berth at Mystic Seaport. New London also offers easy access to Long Island Sound for sail training.

Once preparations and training are complete, the ship will proceed to each port on a one-day sail so it can be safely berthed in the next harbor by nightfall. Obviously, weather conditions are a determining factor in the decision to head to sea each day. Therefore, each port transit is scheduled with a three-day window of opportunity with the intention that the ship will sail on the first acceptable day.

Once in port, the ship will be open to the public on select days. These days will feature a dockside exhibition program that involves live demonstrations, music, and much more—as well as the opportunity to board the ship and explore an 1841 whaling vessel.

The leg of the voyage on Stellwagen Bank has a somewhat different operating plan: the Morgan will moor off Provincetown as a base for day sails onto the Marine Sanctuary in collaboration with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. There will be no dockside exhibition or visitor access to the ship in Provincetown, although there will be extensive online programming during the day sails and the Massachusetts whale watching fleet may choose to follow the ship.

The 38th Voyage will begin with the Morgan being towed down the Mystic River en route to New London. This will be the first time the ship has been below the bridge since she arrived at Mystic Seaport on November 8, 1941. It is expected to be quite a moment and the public is invited to line the shores of the river to watch the procession.

All dates are subject to change due to inclement weather or other unexpected situations.

May 17 — Charles W. Morgan departs Mystic Seaport for New London.

May 24-25; 31 and June 1 — New London, City Pier. Ship is open to the public with the dockside exhibition program.

June 14-16 — Sailing window New London to Newport, RI.

June 17 — Newport, Fort Adams State Park. Ship is open to the public (no dockside exhibition).

June 18-20 — Sailing window to Martha’s Vineyard.

June 21-24 — Vineyard Haven, Tisbury Wharf. Ship is open to the public with the dockside exhibition.

June 25-27 — Sailing window to New Bedford, MA.

June 28-July 6 — New Bedford, State Pier. Ship is open to the public with the dockside exhibition. There will be a July 4th celebration and many other community activities. July 7-11 — Sailing window to Provincetown via the Cape Cod Canal. There will be an overnight stop at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (No public access).

July 12-14 — Day sails on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Overnight mooring in Provincetown Harbor (No public access).

July 15-17 — Sailing window to Boston.

July 18-22 — Boston, Charlestown Navy Yard. The ship is berthed next to the USS Constitution and open to the public with the dockside exhibition.

July 23-25 — Sailing window to Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) via the Cape Cod Canal.

July 26-27 — Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Ship is open to the public with the dockside exhibition. The visit coincides with the centennial celebration of the opening of the Cape Cod Canal.

July 28-30 — Sailing window to New London.

August 6-8 — Sailing window to Mystic Seaport.

August 9 — Homecoming celebration.

For the latest information on the 38th Voyage, visit www.mysticseaport.org or email info@mysticseaport.org.

See our stories on sailing with Capt. Kip Files on the Maine Windjammer, Victory Chimes and sailing in the Great Schooner Race:

A Maine Windjammer Cruise Aboard 'Victory Chimes' and slideshow

Onboard Maine Windjammer 'Victory Chimes' for the Great Schooner Race and slideshow

Karen Rubin, National Eclectic Travel Examiner

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