Vineyard Gazette
On another page is printed a poem by J. C. A. about the old whaler, Charles W. Morgan, who in her last days is serving the movies in a local color capacity.
Charles W. Morgan


Last weekend the Charles W. Morgan was relaunched on her 172nd birthday after a major rebuild; much of her remains original including the keelson. The live oak in her massive double sawn frames was salvaged after a southern U.S. hurricane, and she has been rebuilt absolutely true to her original design and methods of construction. She was originally launched from the Hillman Shipyard in New Bedford (the Hillman family came from Chilmark) on July 21, 1841, and sailed on 37 voyages with the last voyage in 1921.

The Charles W. Morgan, the last of the wooden whaleships, will be refloated Sunday, July 21, at Mystic Seaport after an extensive and expensive restoration. A large crowd is expected at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, which is on the grounds of the Mystic Seaport.



“It is Sunday, and a very pleasant day. I have read two story books. This is my journal. Goodbye for today.”

So opened six-year-old Laura Jernegan’s journal, in an entry dated Dec. 1, 1868, as she set sail on a three-year sea expedition with her family aboard the whaling vessel Roman.



The last remaining New England whale ship with Vineyard connections — the Charles W. Morgan ­­— may sail again. The president of Mystic Seaport spoke at a private fund-raising function recently in Edgartown, at the home of S. Bailey Norton, to report on the Morgan, now undergoing a $6 million restoration effort. It may take another $2 million to do the necessary work to get her to sail.


Charles W. Morgan

She is the only one left.

The Charles W. Morgan is the last surviving wooden whale ship, and while she has rested at a shipyard in Mystic, Conn. since 1941, her Vineyard ties are long and as intricate as a clove hitch knot.

Built at a New Bedford shipyard that was owned by a Chilmark family, her first captain and many of the crew were from the Vineyard.

And now a Vineyarder is leading the fund-raising effort to restore the Charles W. Morgan.


You can name the place, date, and even the hour that whaling died as an industry on Martha’s Vineyard -- 1:30 in the afternoon of Sept. 14, 1871, in a strip of icy water only 18 feet deep and barely wide enough for a whaling ship to swing in a full circle around her anchor.