Mystic Seaport selects CHARLES W. MORGAN stowaway for historic 38th Voyage

Journalist and Adventure Enthusiast to Document Unprecedented Journey this Summer Aboard the 19th-Century Whaleship

Ryan Leighton

Ryan Leighton

Mystic, Conn. (May 8, 2014) – After reviewing scores of applications and video auditions from qualified candidates, Mystic Seaport has selected journalist Ryan Leighton, of Boothbay, Maine to stowaway aboard the Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest surviving merchant vessel, during her 38th Voyage this summer.

As the stowaway, Leighton will be immersed in all aspects of the 19th-century whaling ship’s 38th Voyage–living on board the ship with the crew, handling the sails and lines, steering the ship, and most important, sharing his daily experiences through a blog and social media platforms.

“Ryan proved he has the ‘sense of the adventure’ Mystic Seaport was searching for from the outset of the stowaway contest,” said Susan Funk, executive vice president of Mystic Seaport. “As a successful journalist, he has relevant experience and the necessary skills to fulfill the role of the stowaway aboard the Morgan’s most documented voyage ever. In addition to his enthusiasm, we are confident Ryan will bring his tireless work ethic, his ability to adapt to new situations, and his creativity to the 38th Voyage.”

Leighton, who graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and advertising and a minor in history, had been waiting for a unique and extreme opportunity such as this.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to become the stowaway is because it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sometimes the most satisfying feeling is not knowing what tomorrow will bring,” Leighton said. “Typically, stowaways are forced to remain hidden below deck, but with this opportunity, I will be able to insert myself into the daily routine of the ship. I want to take chances and be creative in order to make this journey as exciting as possible. My goal is to fully immerse myself, so that others are able to live vicariously through my videos and stories.”

Leighton will watch, inquire, learn, participate, and use his creative energy to share the voyage experience with the general public through blogging, videos, social media, and activities in the port cities. He will be a key player during events and exhibits at each port of call with an opportunity to explore the community and meet its people.

“To quote Nat Wilson, the Morgan’s sailmaker, ‘it is the only way to carry the ship’s future forward because the living memories are all gone,’” Leighton said. “Sailing is a big part of the New England heritage – It’s how we got here. And what better way to learn about the past then to relive it in the present?”

Leighton filed his first video as stowaway on the Museum’s YouTube channel.

While on the 38th Voyage 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’ll 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. While the Morgan’s cargo was once whale bone and oil, the vessel will embark upon her final voyage bearing a message of peace and serving as a symbol of our changing relationship with the natural world.

Both Mystic Seaport and Leighton will be sharing the Morgan‘s journey onsite, online, and onboard. If you wish to partake in this exciting voyage, follow Leighton’s blog at www.mysticseaport.org/stowaway, on Twitter @MorganStowaway and on Facebook www.facebook.com/mysticseaport.

The stowaway program has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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, America’s oldest commercial ship and the last wooden whaleship in the world. 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, please visit www.mysticseaport.org.