New Bedford Homecoming!

The CHARLES W. MORGAN passing through the hurricane gate as she enters New Bedford harbor.

The Charles W. Morgan passing through the hurricane gate as she enters New Bedford harbor on June 25, 2014.

It was historic; it was emotional; it was grand!

As the Charles W. Morgan made the turn from Martha’s Vineyard Sound through Quick’s Hole and set sail, it was clearly on the minds of all aboard the Morgan that the final segment of her historic homeward leg on Buzzards Bay was upon us. Crew aloft set sail following precise and energetic orders from the mates who easily put the Morgan under her own sail power headed west towards the anticipation of generations of “New Bedfordians.”  Even across the bay as vessel after vessel, and eventually a plane and a helicopter joined us, one could feel that the moment so longed for, so hoped for, for 73 years, was upon us. And then, at long last she passed through the hurricane barrier and into New Bedford harbor to a huge cannon salute, cheers and horns, and tears all around. It was magical.

But not so fast. First, Captain Files and his outstanding crew let the Morgan sail, as she had on the earlier legs, free and clear. Different combinations of sail were set, and she quickly showed her nimbleness, especially when the topgallants were set and she almost literally leapt into another gear. She was excited, and it felt as if she was sailing with a clear purpose, and she was. But to the 38th Voyagers and guests aboard, it felt as if we had been transported to another time, to a place in her history that we had only imagined until now, and made all so real on the very waters on which she had once sailed. The crew tacked once and then again–she had not forgotten how–and then they weared ship just to have done it all before heading home! She knew where to go and didn’t delay.

What a welcome! Over the next several days, thousands came to see her after a moving opening ceremony officially welcomed and suitably saluted her. They were grateful, and we were proud. So much work by so many made this reunion of all maritime reunions possible, and there is no doubt that Mystic Seaport has done a fine and memorable thing for the diverse and proud extended community of the New Bedford region. A gala, receptions, the 38th whaling symposium, whaleboat rowing, exhibitions, parades, bands, and more all paid tribute to a ship, to an era, and to an industry, all who contributed to an America that was then emerging on the international scene.

Please join in the ongoing tribute by visiting the Morgan where you can over the next month. We’re in New Bedford through July 6 and we still have the Cape Cod Canal, Provincetown and Stellwagen Bank, Boston, and back to the Canal to go. And if you can’t be with us in one way or another, please continue to enjoy the blogs and videos posted on our website, Facebook, and YouTube. Read the Stowaway’s blogs or join the Twitter community. I also hope that you are one of the 50,000+ who have viewed the Morgan from the masthead resulting from crew member Cassie Sleeper’s epic climb that has gone viral on YouTube. Wow.

If you are local to Mystic Seaport, please put August 9 on your calendar and join us that evening for a homecoming party with the Morgan back at Chubb’s Wharf. What fun it will be to celebrate her voyage and her return home to Mystic Seaport!

Steve White