Press Releases

Mystic Seaport Installs First Plank on the Charles W. Morgan

National Historic Landmark Vessel Enters New Phase of Restoration

Mystic Seaport shipwrights installed the first plank on the exterior of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan today. The plank marks a significant milestone in the multi-year restoration of the ship.

The Morgan has been undergoing a comprehensive restoration in the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard since 2008. This is the fourth phase of the project. To date, the vessel has been thoroughly documented, the structure of her lower hull has been restored, and interior planking has been replaced.

The current phase involves planking the external hull below the waterline. Much of the material dates to her original construction.

Installing a plank requires carefully shaping and “dry-fitting” it to its eventual location on the hull. The planks are then steamed for at least 3 hours to make them flexible. At that point they are quickly hauled into position, braced and wedged into place. The plank is subsequently fastened with bronze spikes and large wooden pegs called treenails (pronounced “trunnels”). Time is of the essence as the steam-induced flexibility wears off quickly and planks can crack or split.

The planks are longleaf yellow pine and massive. Today’s plank measured more than 36-feet long, was 4 inches thick, and weighed more than 500 pounds.

With the hiring of additional shipwrights this past winter, the Museum aims to complete this phase by late fall along with some structural restoration work on the bow and the transom area at the stern. This will be the most extensive restoration of the vessel since she arrived at Mystic Seaport in 1941.

“We are very pleased that we have been able to retain a substantial percentage of the original wood,” said Shipyard director Quentin Snediker. “It is great to see the new wood side-by-side with the old and know that we are ensuring her existence for another 170 years.”

“It is very exciting to see the ship come together as we reach these milestones. Each plank puts us that much closer to our goal to take her back to sea, and it is a testament to the remarkable skills and talents of our shipwrights that we are reaching that goal on time and on budget,” said Mystic Seaport president Steve White.

White urged visitors to come and see the ship during the restoration. “This is a unique opportunity to see the skills and technology at work that helped launch America’s global economy. Once the structure is covered up, no one in our lifetime will ever see it again,” he said.

The Morgan sailed on 37 voyages around the globe during an 80-year whaling career. She came to Mystic Seaport in 1941 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The Morgan is the oldest surviving American commercial vessel still afloat.

The $7 million project is on schedule to launch her on July 21, 2013, the 172nd anniversary of her first trip down the ways in 1841. Mystic Seaport will return the Morgan to sea for a ceremonial 38th Voyage to historic ports on the East Coast in the late spring and summer of 2014.

The public is invited to help support the project by visiting mysticseaport.org/morgansupport.

Images available upon request.

About Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport is America’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, the oldest American commercial vessel still afloat. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/.

Press Releases

Mystic Seaport Names Nicholas Alley Captain of the Schooner BRILLIANT

Mystic Seaport named Nicholas Alley to be the next captain of the schooner Brilliant.

For nearly 60 years, thanks to the generosity and foresight of Briggs Cunningham, the schooner Brilliant has served as Mystic Seaport’s primary sail training vessel, introducing thousands of young and adult sailors to the joys and lessons the experience of sailing a classic schooner provides. Launched in 1932, she was designed by legendary naval architect Olin Stephens and has been with Mystic Seaport since 1953. Each year she sails on multi-day cruises up and down the eastern seaboard furthering the Museum’s mission of creating an enduring link to America’s maritime heritage.

Brilliant was named Sail Training Ship of the year by the American Sail Training Association in 1997.

“Being captain of the Brilliant requires someone who is not just an outstanding mariner, but someone who understands the special role the schooner plays in history of Mystic Seaport,” said Mystic Seaport president Steve White. “Brilliant is a public ambassador for the Museum and everything that makes sailing special. We believe Nicholas is the right person to have at her helm.”

Alley has been a licensed captain for over 25 years, including billets on the sailing vessels Westward, Harvey Gammage, Spirit of Massachusetts, Lettie G. Howard, and Pride of Baltimore II.  He brings extensive experience in sail training and education with organizations such as Outward Bound, the Sea Education Association, Ocean Classroom Foundation, New York’s South Street Seaport, and Boston’s New England Historic Seaport/Schools for Children.

Alley takes up the position effective March 5.

For more information about Brilliant and Mystic Seaport’s sail training programs, please visit mysticseaport.org/brilliant.

About Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the 1841 whaleship, Charles W. Morgan, the oldest American merchant vessel still afloat. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/.

Press Releases

Winter’s Aweigh at Mystic Seaport on Feb. 18

Museum Celebrates Reopening with Seasonal Event, Free Admission for Kids

Mystic Seaport celebrates its reopening with Winter’s Aweigh, a day of special activities on Saturday, Feb. 18. Kids will be admitted free (ages 17 and under).

Winter’s Aweigh will feature ice sculpting demonstrations, games of long ago on the village green (weather permitting), free horse and carriage rides, special music performances and merrymaking, storytelling, and working dog demonstrations by the Newfoundland Dog Club of New England.

Visitors are invited to get creative in the Winterscapes Open Art Studio in the Museum’s Schaefer Gallery.  They can work with a resident artist to create a temporary mural, design their favorite winter scene in a shadow box, or create an old-fashioned silhouette.

Hot drinks and snacks will be available for purchase from Coastal Gourmet. Also, Latitude 41° Restaurant will offer free meals to kids with the purchase of one adult entrée (Kids ages 10 and under; meals limited to the kids’ menu). The offer runs through Sunday. Feb. 26.

Winter’s Aweigh kicks off the Museum’s annual Liberty Days program during February school vacation. Mystic Seaport will offer the free youth admission promotion through Sunday, Feb. 26. The Museum will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Visitors are invited to take part in the following Liberty Days activities:

  • See the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan from a kid’s point of view
  • Free planetarium shows
  • Build a wooden toy boat ($5 fee)
  • Explore a sailor’s sea chest
  • Other special kids’ activities, art projects, music programs, and storytelling happening throughout the week

Additionally, visitors can explore the Museum’s 19th century seafaring village; climb aboard historic vessels such as the Morgan and the 1921 Gloucester fishing schooner L.A. Dunton; and learn about the music of the sea in the new exhibit, “Neptune’s Orchestra.”

The Kids’ Free Admission offer at Mystic Seaport is not transferable. No other discounts apply.

For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/.

About Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime history museum. Founded in 1929, it is the home to Four national Historic Landmark vessels, including the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, the oldest American commercial vessel still afloat. For more information on hours and ticketing, please visit mysticseaport.org/visit.

Press Releases

Mystic Seaport Names New Planetarium Supervisor

Mystic Seaport is pleased to announce Jeffrey J. Dunn will join the Museum as the new supervisor of the Treworgy Planetarium.

Dunn will be responsible for the development and execution of all programs and curriculum at the Planetarium, including participation in the Museum’s innovative Science-to-Go and History-to-Go programs.

Dunn is currently a G.I.S. Analyst at the University of Connecticut, where he is a doctoral candidate. Dunn received a B.S. in Elementary Education from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and a M.S. in Geography from West Virginia University. He is a member of the Gamma Theta Upsilon International Honors Society.

At the University of Connecticut, Dunn’s work at the Map and Geographic Information Center and the Connecticut State Data Center (MAGIC/CTSDC) involved creating custom map products and leading the centers’ educator outreach programs.  Dunn’s expertise and technical skills cover traditional and modern survey and scientific equipment, the use of optical telescopes, and the ability to leverage the latest internet technologies.

“We believe Jeff’s extensive scientific and technical knowledge, plus his experience developing innovative educational resources for use by professionals as well as the general public, make him the ideal person to guide the Treworgy Planetarium into its next phase,” said Mystic Seaport President Stephen C. White. “He has a passion for astronomy that is clear from the moment you meet him.”

Dunn replaces Don Treworgy, who was Planetarium director for 44 years. The Planetarium was named in his honor in 2009.

Dunn’s hiring is effective January 31.

About the Treworgy Planetarium

The Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport seeks to educate visitors and students of the unique connection of astronomy and earth science to marine navigation and maritime history.  More than 22,500 people attended Planetarium programs every year. For more information about the Planetarium, please visit mysticseaport.org/planetarium.

Press Releases

Mystic Seaport Announces Its 2012 Maritime Author Series

Mark Kurlansky, author of the New York Times bestseller Cod, will be the first speaker at the 2012 Maritime Author Series at Mystic Seaport Wednesday, February 1.

The series runs selected Wednesday evenings February through April at Latitude 41° Restaurant from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets are $65 ($50 for members) for the series and $20 ($15 for members) for individual programs.

A wine and cheese reception will be hosted at 5:30 p.m., followed by the author’s presentation at 6 p.m. and then a question and answer session. One attendee at each program will also win a free copy of the author’s book.

Tickets are available for purchase online at https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/ or by calling 860.572.5399.

Featured speakers are:

February 1 – Mark Kurlansky and his 12-year-old daughter and fishing companion Talia, talk about the prolific author’s recent book, World Without Fish. Designed for younger readers, the book addresses the environmental crisis in the world’s oceans in an entertaining way, yet adults will find it teeming with history, biology and a thoughtful view of ecology.

February 29 – James L. Nelson, a distinguished authority on George Washington and the author of 15 works of fiction and nonfiction, will discuss George Washington’s Great Gamble, the story of the greatest naval engagement of the American Revolution. In 1781, Washington had to depend on the French to defeat the Royal Navy in a major naval campaign, but they had never before accomplished that feat. Based on his meticulous research, Nelson recounts the saga of the unpredictable circumstances that led to the British surrender at Yorktown.

March 28 – George C. Daughan tells the astounding story of the War of 1812, when a ragtag team of American commanders, seamen, and privateers took on the most powerful navy in the world. In his latest book, 1812: The Navy’s War, Daughan draws on his degrees in history, his military experience during the Vietnam War, and his teaching of international affairs at the U.S. Air Force to tell the thrilling story of how a handful of heroic captains and their stalwart crews overcame spectacular odds to lead the country to victory against the world’s greatest naval power.

April 25 – Paul Hendrickson, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, will discuss Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961. The book traces the life of Ernest Hemingway during the key period from his pinnacle as the reigning monarch of American letters until his suicide. The author, himself an outdoorsman and fisherman, describes his personal visits to the Hemingway finca in Havana and his beloved Pilar, his fishing boat now owned by the Cuban Government. This nonfiction account follows the writer from Key West to Paris, Africa, Cuba and finally Idaho. Throughout these years, Hemingway always returned to Pilar, to find inspiration and relaxation in the sea.

This program is co-sponsored by the Museum’s Library Fellows.

About Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. For more information, visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/.