An American icon returns to the sea

An American icon returns to the sea

The Westerly Sun

After more than five years, upwards of 600,000 hours of labor, the fabrication of more than 300 futtocks, 14 spars, some 170 exterior planks, seemingly endless days of caulking and painting, we have reached the point we have been working toward all this time: the day the Charles W. Morgan departs Mystic to begin her journey back to sea.

Promptly at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, the Morgan will cast off her lines at Mystic Seaport and proceed down the Mystic River. The day will begin at 8:45 a.m. with a brief ceremony in the museum’s shipyard. Rep. Joe Courtney and other dignitaries will wish the ship a bon voyage and the museum leadership will formally hand the vessel over to the care of her 22nd captain, Kip Files.

This moment could not be possible without the tremendous support of the community. For nearly 85 years, the people of Mystic — the members, volunteers, philanthropists, business partners, and like-minded enthusiasts — have rallied to support the mission of Mystic Seaport to create an enduring connection to the American maritime experience. We thank you for everything you have done. We could not have done it without each and every one of you.

Mystic’s connection to shipbuilding and the marine trades goes back to the 18th century, and in many ways that link is as strong now as it ever was. In addition to the traditional shipbuilding and restoration that takes place at Mystic Seaport, one has only to look down the river to see the marinas, the boat builders, the repair and supply companies, the manufacturers and designers, the charter operators, to see that the community is tied to the sea like few others. We celebrate that connection and see the Morgan’s 38th voyage as representing the best of that tradition.

When I walk the decks of the Morgan, I frequently think, “How were the lives of those who sailed her changed by her world-wide adventures?” By taking her on this voyage, I believe we are giving voice to an inanimate object. Ships are made to go to sea, and as we sail her up the coast to Boston and back, she has lots to tell us about herself, the men and women who sailed on her for 80 years, the communities and industries they supported, and how our relationship with the natural world has changed — and will continue to change.

We ask you to join us in celebrating this day as we make the first step toward taking this American icon to sea, when she will fly the flag of the State of Connecticut and represent all of the great things people can see and do in her homeport of Mystic. This is your moment as much as it is Mystic Seaport’s.

We kick off the day in our shipyard, but there will be fantastic views downtown, on the river shores, or on the water. We hope at a minimum that everyone will take a few minutes to walk down to the river and wave as the ship goes by, and to wish her fair winds and following seas as the Morgan embarks on this next chapter in her remarkable career.

We invite everyone to participate in the Morgan’s 38th voyage by following her progress on our website at and on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. We will have a dedicated team updating the status of the ship and shoreside events in real time.

Stephen White is the president of Mystic Seaport.


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