The Charles W. Morgan opens to visitors Saturday. She'll be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday.
There are some special events planned for Saturday, including a parade of vessels scheduled at noon. At 1 p.m. there is a whaleboat race, with five whaleboats built for the voyage racing between West Chop and East Chop. The race will be three miles.
Nine new whaleboats were built to accompany the Charles W. Morgan on her 38th voyage, each built by different shipyards around the country, including Virginia, Maine, Michigan and Vermont.
Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway in Vineyard Haven supplied one of the whaleboats. It was built over the course of six months in 2013.
Whaleboats were 28-feet long and double ended. They were painted white, and each of the nine whaleboats made for the 38th voyage has a different colored stripe at the top of the hull—a historically accurate detail, because sailors needed a way to tell the boats apart.
When the Morgan shifted to Arctic whaling, the whaleboats were painted black, so they could be more easily spotted against the ice and snow.
The whaleboats were attached to the ship using wooden davits that extended from the ship. The whaleboats were dropped in the water upon a whale sighting. When a spotter shouted the familiar cry: "Bl-o-o-o-ows! Thar she bl-o-o-ows!" the boats went into the water, along with an assigned crew for each boat that included a harpooner.
After a whale was harpooned, the whaleboat and its occupants were sometimes taken for a Nantucket Sleigh Ride as the startled, harpooned whale towed the boat along for a harrowing ride.
No Nantucket Sleigh Rides this weekend, just some friendly racing.