Bowsprit and Foremast
The restoration of the Morgan took two important steps this past week: on Wednesday the bowsprit was installed and on Thursday the lower foremast was stepped. Both were fashioned from new pieces of douglas fir. The original bowsprit and lower foremast were white pine, but white pine of the size necessary for the Morgan‘s needs is no longer available. The lower foremast was shipped to Mystic Seaport after having been turned on a lathe. A shipwright then configured the two ends to fit properly into the vessel and to receive the forward topmast, which will be placed in late January or early February.
The bowsprit was a more complex undertaking. Roughly two by two feet square when viewed on end, it was fashioned by a shipwright following a plan prepared by the shipyard’s documentation team. Its shape is irregular. Some portions are round, others square or tapered. Rumor has it the shipwright assigned the task of shaping the bowsprit did not ask what it cost until after he had successfully completed the job.
Maritime tradition holds that a coin be placed under the masts. To commemorate this event, a 1941 half-dollar was chosen and placed under the new lower foremast. 1941 is, of course, the year the Morgan came to Mystic Seaport. The main and mizzen lowers will be stepped in November, weather permitting. To accomplish this, the vessel will be turned around and moved into the shoplift basin. An 1841 silver dollar will be placed under the mainmast, denoting her year of construction. To celebrate the stepping of the mizzen mast and this restoration effort, a 2013 silver dollar will be used.