Charles W Morgan

3 Main Masts

The last surviving Wooden Whaling ship in the world !

Charles W. Morgan

Charles W. Morgan

In the 1840s, a Quaker whaling merchant named Charles W. Morgan ordered a whaleship from the shipbuilders Jethro and Zachariah Hillman of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

The hull and deck of Morgan reflected the industry which she was built to serve. A typical whaleship has three functions:

  1. to serve as a mother ship to a fleet of small whaleboats, which are stored on the davits when not in use,
  2. to serve as a factory and a refinery ship with tryworks for extracting oil from the whale blubber,
  3. to serve as oil tankers.

Morgan’s maiden voyage began on September 6, 1841. She sailed around Cape Horn and cruised the Pacific Ocean. Following Morgan’s three year and four month voyage, she came home with 2,400 barrels of whale oil and 10,000 lbs of whalebone, known as baleen, which was worth around USD$56,000.

Later Service

In her 80 years of service, she would make 37 voyages ranging in length from nine months to five years. Charles W. Morgan, in total, brought home 54,483 barrels of whale oil and 152,934 pounds of whalebone. She sailed in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans, surviving ice and snow storms. Her crew survived a cannibal attack in the South Pacific. Between 1888 and 1904 she was based in San Francisco.

Morgan had more than 1,000 whalemen of all races and nationalities in her lifetime. Her crew included not only Americans, but sailors from Cape Verde, New Zealand, the Seychelles, Guadeloupe, and Norfolk Island. The ship’s crew averaged around 33 men per voyage. As with other whaleships in the 1800s, Morgan often was home to the captain’s family.

Charles W. Morgan was used in 3 movies: the 1916 movie Miss Petticoats, the 1922 Down to the Sea in Ships, and in the 1930s in Java Head.

On the night of June 30, 1924, the Charles W. Morgan caught fire when the flaming wreck of the steamer Sankaty, which had drifted across the Achushnet River from New Bedford harbor in flames, collided with it. Badly charred, Morgan narrowly escaped destruction.

Retirement

The whaling days came to an end with the perfection of refining petroleum. Morgan was under the care of Whaling Enshrined, Inc. until 1941, when she was transferred to Mystic Seaport, where she still stands to this day.

Restoration

The Charles W. Morgan arrived at Mystic Seaport in December of 1941, narrowly avoiding destruction during WWII. A major restoration and preservation project was begun in 1968. In 1977 Morgan was designated a National Historic Landmark. Mystic Seaport is completing a multi-million dollar shipyard upgrade to accommodate the next phase of Morgan’s restoration. She is the oldest whaler and commercial vessel surviving in America.

The United States Postal Service issued a commerorative stamp honoring the Charles W. Morgan

We purchased the blueprints for this vessel @ a cost of $250 dollars !  A scaled model of 1/64 is being built here in Barrow.  In fact the finished model can be purchased for over 700 dollars.  We bought all the wood needed to prepare and build this very  fine detailed whaling ship as a reminder, a showpiece to be exhibited here in Barrow !

Over 200 block and tackles are used in the rigging process !

Views of the work in progress will be posted here !

Building the Hull

Building the Hull

Slow Progress

Slow Progress

Planking the deck

Planking the deck

Planking the side of the hull

Planking the side of the hull

Planking requires lots of patience

Planking requires lots of patience

Details of Planks

Details of Planks

3 Main Masts
Lots of wood with lots intricate detail

Lots of wood with lots intricate detail

Three Masts,  The Mizzen mast, The Main Mast, The Forward Mast.
Different size round & square  pieces of wood are used to shape these intricate masts
Over 25 pieces of wood and 50 pieces of assorted ‘fittings’ are used to construct these.
Building this model is an extremly slow painstaking process.
Chock packed full of fun and learning experience with a double dose of patience applied !
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2 Responses
  1. I love to build model ships and have been doing it for
    about 5 years. I would like the plans, but are they
    available free! I guess I’ll just have to shoot from the
    hip. I’v built the Bluenose, the Juan Sebastian de
    Elcano, HMS Royal William,Ingermanland.

  2. Allen Heffler says:

    You forgot one other movie the Morgan was in. The movie was called ” A Man Without a Country” with Cliff Robertson. I was there when they were filming it.