I spent my last night on the Charles W. Morgan alone, in the dark on the world’s last wooden whaling ship. How fitting for a stowaway. All of my crew mates had packed their bags and left the ship heading in different directions.
As the 38th Voyage winds down, the hardest question I get as the Morgan Stowaway is “So how was it?” I’ve seen and experienced some incredible things this summer, so when somebody asks me how the voyage went, I find it difficult to boil it down to a snappy response. Up until now, the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan has felt like sprinting a marathon. It has been two months of exhilarating, inspiring, exhausting, important, sleepless, sweaty and spectacular moments, with a free soda thrown in from time to time.
It’s a rare sight sailing the Charles W. Morgan with no passengers onboard. The core crew living and working on this vessel worked her through the night. For the first time I saw the lower topsails flying in the night sky. It was glorious.
The Cape Cod Canal is known for its mighty sea current. It can rip as fast as 6 knots, and it’s strong enough to distress small watercraft that get caught in the standing waves. It’s not always predictable, but about every six hours the current reverses direction. In between tidal shifts, the current slows and the water is dead calm for about 30 minutes. They call it “slack tide.” Then the torrent surges again.
The Morgan’s bow may be pointed homeward, but the stowaway’s adventure continues! The Morgan is docked at Mass Maritime Academy, just in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cape Cod Canal.
Just when I thought there is nothing else I could possibly do that has never been done, the U.S.S. Constitution and the Charles W. Morgan, this nation’s oldest military and commercial ships, are now docked together at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
Today is the Morgan’s 173rd birthday! On July 21, 1841 the Charles W. Morgan was launched at Hillman Brothers Shipyard in New Bedford.
The Charles W. Morgan, the oldest wooden commercial vessel afloat, is currently docked next to the U.S.S. Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel. It’s a rare sight to see them together.
Tom wasn’t just here to slip new rations into my bag. In fact, he was on today’s voyage is because he is the guardian of a special piece of history – a slab of white oak that was found at the bottom of the Charlestown Navy Yard.
Watching whales from the mast of a 19th-century whaling ship is a surreal experience. I may very well be the only person alive in the world who can say that he has done such a thing.