For the first time in much more than a century, a whaling ship is bound for the Vineyard.
The Charles W. Morgan, the last remaining wooden whaling ship, departed Newport at 8 a.m., towed by the Tisbury tug, Sirius, and Capt. Paul Bangs.
Off of Castle Hill, R.I., the ship began turning east toward Cuttyhunk, and waves began to pick up.
"You can feel the groundswell. Here we go!" said an elated Matthew Stackpole, the ship's historian, from aboard ship.
The Morgan is scheduled to sail into Tisbury Wharf Wednesday afternoon. The Morgan’s arrival touches off nearly a week of events and opportunities for the Island to learn more about the Morgan--a ship with many Vineyard connections--and to explore its whaling past.
The Vineyard is one of several stops on the Morgan’s 38th voyage. Mystic Seaport has extensively restored the 173-year-old ship, and earlier this month she sailed for the first time in about 92 years.
The Charles W. Morgan is scheduled to depart from Newport, R.I. at about 8 a.m.
Sailboats, especially old ones, are of course dependent on weather and tides, so the schedule is tentative. The trip from Newport to Vineyard Haven is 42 miles.
The Morgan will stop off Cuttyhunk, and then sail from there to the Vineyard, going through Vineyard Sound and around West Chop to reach Vineyard Haven harbor. She will likely be visible from several vantage points along the Vineyard's north shore.
To track the Morgan’s progress throughout the day, visit Mystic Seaport’s 38th voyage chart.
Gazette reporter Tom Dunlop and photographer Mark Lovewell will be on the Morgan as she sails into the Vineyard, as will Matthew Stackpole, the Morgan’s historian and a West Tisbury resident.
The Morgan will not be open for visits until Saturday. From June 21 to June 24, the Morgan will be open for people to tour the ship. There will also be a large shoreside exhibition complete with a condensed rendition of Moby-Dick, exhibits, whale boat races, demonstrations, and Spouter, a 46-foot-long inflatable replica of a sperm whale. The ship will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; there is a suggestion admission of $5 per person.
The Morgan’s next destination will be New Bedford, her home port for most of her whaling years and the place where she was built.
For this voyage, the Charles W. Morgan is traveling with a fleet of other vessels. These include the Roann, a 60-foot eastern-rig dragger, who is coming back to one of her home ports.
The Roann was built in 1947 for the late Capt. Roy Campbell of Vineyard Haven. (His wife’s name was Annie, hence the name.) She is one of the last surviving examples of the fishing vessels that replaced sailing schooners.
S. Bailey Norton will sail in next to the Morgan on the Cangarda, the last surviving American-built steam yacht. Mr. Norton is a descendent of the Morgan’s first captain, Capt. Thomas A. Norton of Edgartown.
When the Charles W. Morgan embarked on her first voyage in 1841, Edgartown native James C. Osborn, the second mate, kept the ship’s log. “May kind Neptune protect us with pleasant gales, and may we be successful in catching sperm whales,” Mr. Osborn said.
More than 170 years later, the Morgan is again hoping for pleasant gales to billow her sails. But on this voyage, her cargo is history.