Before the end of summer 2014, Mystic Seaport staff sat down with some of the professional crew to talk with them about their experiences and their impressions of the Morgan and her 38th Voyage. These are some highlights from their interviews.
Getting to Know the Ship
Most of the crew were very new to the Morgan when they signed on for the Voyage. When they arrived, the ship was not yet fully rigged and crew members had to work together to figure out how the rigging should be arranged to best sail the ship.
“But it’s kind of fun, like, having this boat not having been fully rigged in a long time…fun and frustrating–both sides of the same coin…there was a lot of tinkering and…I like to tinker.” -Elizabeth Foretek, deckhand
“You’re always learning, even the captain’s learning. The chief mate’s learning: he’s looking at the rig, figuring out what the heck is going on.” -Patrick Finn, deckhand
Since the Morgan hadn’t been sailed in over 80 years, nobody alive could know exactly what it would feel like to sail this artifact. It wasn’t until the crew was underway that they learned how fast she could go and how she tacked. The crew agreed that the Morgan sailed surprisingly well for her heavy construction and size. Some noted that her being easy to sail would have been very beneficial to whaling crews that often gained new, unskilled sailors.
“She tacks beautifully.” -Cassie Sleeper, deckhand.
“I really hope she sails after this because she just was meant to.” -Dana Mancinelli, deckhand
“We hoped she would do well, and she’s doing even better than we hoped. But she is an incredibly handy boat, and I think a huge part of that is her function and who would have been sailing her.” -Elizabeth Foretek, deckhand
At Mystic Seaport, researchers study the history of sea music and interpreters demonstrate the use of chanteys to complete work on board ship. So many 38th Voyagers, staff members, and crew alike were curious how work songs could be used on a modern voyage. While the crew found the chanteys to be interesting as a part of the ship’s history, most found the chantey rhythms to be out of step with the working tempos they were accustomed to in the 21st-century.
“One of the things is that the way that we are sailing the vessel is not the way that they would have sailed it [historically]… It’s just not the right pace–we’re hauling much faster, essentially, than chanteys.” -Elizabeth Foretek, deckhand
“But for me, on the top sail halyard, it was cool to do it with the chantey once, but I don’t think I’d want to run a ship that way.” -Ryan Loftus, deckhand
Learning from the Voyage
When the Morgan docked at other ports in New England, the crew met thousands of visitors who came to tour the ship. Though these tours could be long and challenging, the crew also got to see many people make strong connections with the Morgan and her history.
“One of the things I enjoyed the most is when you’d see people step on the deck, whether they’d ask any good question or not, but all of a sudden you’d see this smile ’cause [they] could feel like she was alive. That was cool.” Rocky Hadler, third mate
“Watching the wheels turn when on somebody when they’re trying to fit that all together is pretty–it’s rewarding.” -Dana Mancinelli, deckhand
Crew members also shared their thoughts on the legacy of the Charles W. Morgan and the significance of the Voyage for the Museum and its interpretation.
“It shows that [Mystic Seaport] truly is a living museum… it changes interpreting and just the whole exhibit from always being third person to being first person. So [we now say], ‘We rode with the whales,’ instead of ‘They rode with the whales,’ -Sean Bercaw, second mate
“I think she brings history alive…But if you’re walking onto a ship that’s moving, that’s sailing, you look at it with different eyes… I think even an non-mariner would start thinking more personalized things as they experience [the ship], which to me makes history– makes them look back at where have we come from and hopefully get them thinking on where are we going.” -Rocky Hadler, third mate