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October 17, 2013

The1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan is taking an important step in her journey back to sea on Thursday, October 17, when the staff at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport will begin the process of stepping the masts. The moment will be marked by a brief ceremony at 10 a.m. in the Shipyard to present the coins that will be placed under the masts.

The ship was de-rigged and had its masts and spars removed at the outset of the restoration in 2008. Re-installing the masts, known as “stepping” in nautical terminology, is an important occasion during a ship’s construction. Maritime tradition holds that a coin should be placed under the base of a mast for good luck. To mark significant events in the Morgan’s history, three coins have been selected for placement:

  • 1841 U.S. Silver Dollar – Representing the original launch of the Morgan.
  • 1941 U.S. Silver Half-Dollar – Signifying the ship’s arrival at Mystic Seaport.
  • 2013 U.S. Silver Dollar – Symbolizing the current restoration.

The coins will replace the three coins that were removed when the previous masts were taken out in 2008. They were a 1908 Barber Silver Half Dollar, an Eisenhower Silver Dollar dating from 1971-1977 (corrosion made it impossible to read the specific year), and a 1997 U.S. Silver Dollar. Each coin signifies a mast replacement during the Morgan’s career.

Stepping the masts is an extensive process that will take place on two separate days: the foremast will be stepped on October 17 and the main and mizzen masts are scheduled to be stepped in November. The ceremony will take place prior to the stepping of the foremast and will give visitors an opportunity to see the coins before they are taken below, and to witness an historic event as the first mast gets lifted into position.