SPRING | SUMMER 2013
hL a u n c h i n g t h e g
Charles W. MoRGAN July 21, 2013
OVER 60 YEARS of
SUMMER CAMPS At Mystic Seaport
EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION AT ITS BEST!
WHY LANDLOCK YOUR KIDS this summer when a whole new world awaits on the
water? From day camps to overnight camps and sailing programs aboard historic vessels like the Joseph Conrad and Brilliant, Mystic Seaport offers all sorts of unforgettable ways for children of all ages to earn their sea legs. Learn more at www.mysticseaport.org/summercamps
Mystic Seaport magazine is a publication of Mystic SeaporT President STEPHEN C. WHITE
IN THIS ISSUE
executive vice presidents SUSAN FUNK MARCY WITHINGTON
SEASCAPES . ..................................… 4
Editor Göran R BUCKHORN email@example.com
RESTORING AN ICON ..................... 8-9
PRODUCTION Susan HEATH contributors EVELYN ANSEL MARY K. BERCAW EDWARDS MARIBETH BIELINSKI TRUDI BUSEY Sarah Cahill DEBRA COATS CHRIS FREEMAN
ADVANCEMENT NEWS................... 5-7
WHALEBOATS . .......................... 10-12 LAUNCHING THE MORGAN . ..... 13-16
ANDY GERMAN GLENN GORDINIER
MUSEUM BRIEFS ...................... 17-19
DAN MCFADDEN AMANDA NICHOLAS PAUL O’PECKO
MALLORY FELLOWSHIP GRANT REPORTS ...................... 20-21
KRYSTAL ROSE MATTHEW STACKPOLE
Design Karen WARD THE DAY PRINTING COMPANY
ON BOOKS ................................. 22-23
EDITOR'S PICKS ............................. 23
BETTLE BOAT SHOP / BILL SAUERBREY
Rocking The Boat / Joaquin Cotten
Great Lakes Boat Building School
MARK Lovewell (for the Vineyard Gazette)
MYSTIC SEAPORT PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVES
Lowell’S Boat shop
MY MYSTIC SEAPORT.................. 24-25 FROM THE COLLECTIONS............... 26
Suki Williams © PHOTOGRAPH EVELYN ANSEL
SPRING / SUMMER On the Cover: 1926 WATERCOLOR: “CHARLES W.MORGAN 1841 OUTWARD BOUND” BY FREDERIC SCHILLER COZZENS (1846-1928) 2011.18. (THE IMAGE HAS BEEN DIGITALLY RESTORED.)
CONTACT US VISITOR INFORMATION: 860.572.5315 • 888.973.2767 ADMINISTRATION: 860.572.0711 MEMBERSHIP: 860.572.5339 PROGRAM RESERVATION: 860.572.5322 MUSEUM STORE: 860.572.5385
MARITIME GALLERY: 860.572.5388 VOLUNTEER SERVICES: 860.572.5378 DURING THE SPRING AND SUMMER THE MUSEUM WILL BE OPEN DAILY 9AM-5PM ADDRESS: 75 GREENMANVILLE AVE. P.O. BOX 6000 MYSTIC, CT 06355 -0990 WWW.MYSTICSEAPORT.ORG
FROM A MEETING IN MID-DECEMBER 2012 BETWEEN MYSTIC SEAPORT AND REPRESENTATIVES FROM SOME OF THE INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE BUILDING WHALEBOATS FOR THE MUSEUM. FRONT ROW: D. HEWSON (MS), G. MCKAY (LOWELL’S BOAT SHOP), N. BENJAMIN (GANNON AND BENJAMIN), B. SAUERBREY (BEETLE BOAT SHOP), M. PALOMO (BEETLE BOAT SHOP), G. MCKONLY (ROCKING THE BOAT), AND E. ANSEL (MS). BACK ROW: H. CRIM (ALEXANDRIA SEAPORT FOUNDATION), M. STACKPOLE (MS), B. WOMACK (BEETLE BOAT SHOP), B. MACKENZIE (INDEPENDENCE SEAPORT MUSEUM), Q. SNEDIKER (MS), AND W. ANSEL (MS).
SPRING / SUMMER 2013
| Mystic Seaport Magazine |
SPECIAL EVENTS at MYSTIC SEAPORT
S E A S C A P E S Up Close and Personal
hen I asked the editor if he had a suggested theme for “Seascapes,” he offered that it would come to me from the overall content of this issue of the Mystic
Seaport Magazine. He was correct. In fact, I didn’t get past page 4… this page. One look at the painting by Anthony Davis, Up Close and Personal, which accompanies “Seascapes,” and the answer was there. How could one look at those waves and not be reconnected with one’s personal relationship with the sea? The painting speaks to both the beauty and power of a restless sea that draws us to its edge and invites us to sail to distant horizons. In early February, author and sailor John Rousmaniere spoke at the American Schooner Association’s annual meeting at Mystic Seaport about seamanship and the hard lessons that we have learned (or not learned) from going to sea. John began his talk with a segment regarding the mystique and awe of the sea, and MYSTIC SEAPORT PRESIDENT STEPHEN C. WHITE
he asked us to reflect back on our first sail and the feelings it evoked as the water rushed by the leeward rail. He referenced Joseph Conrad’s The Mirror of the Sea and suggested it be re-read
annually as food for the maritime soul. John’s words reminded me of maritime historian Gaddis Smith’s assertion that “the sea connects all things,” which I’m sure would also resonate with a room full of ardent schooner sailors. We’ve all had our own deep and personal experiences from and with the sea, and we are fortunate that Davis, Rousmaniere, Conrad, and others add their own interpretations to our evolving “collection.” As mariners, we understand what lies at the core of their work, and we are grateful for their expressions of the sea ethic. At Mystic Seaport, we, too, present a tangible, diverse interpretation of our maritime heritage. Our skilled teachers, interpreters, shipwrights, instructors, and curators provide insight and access to our nation’s maritime heritage for seasoned seamen and women, as well as neophytes. Some are given their first encounter with the sea, be it from the shore or their first experience rowing a boat. Our goal is that our visitors’ Mystic Seaport experiences will significantly influence how they understand our maritime history and heritage and will ultimately lead toward developing interested and responsible citizens of the sea. This summer will be a most noteworthy one at the Museum: Civil War Naval Encampment, Sea Music Festival, WoodenBoat Show, the launch of the Charles W. Morgan, Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous, Antique Marine Engine Show, and the Antique Vehicle Show… and that is just for starters!
MAY 18-19 — PILOTS Weekend 25-27 — Lobster Days 27 — Decoration Day
JUNE 1-2 — 6-9 — 12 to Sep. 8 — 28-30 — 28-30 —
Civil War Naval Encampment Sea Music Festival Plein Air Painters of the Maritime Gallery WoodenBoat Show Small Craft Workshop
JULY 4 — 19 to Sep. 8 — 20 — 21 — 27-28 — 31 to Aug. 1 —
Independence Day The Maritime Gallery Celebrates the Charles W. Morgan Pre-Launch Party Anniversary and Launching of Charles W. Morgan Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous Moby-Dick Marathon
AUGUST 8-11 — Model Yacht Regatta 17-18 — Antique Marine Engine Show SEPTEMBER 15 — 15 — 22 — 27 — 15 to Dec. 31 —
OCTOBER 5 — 12-14 — 17 — 18 — 19-20 — 31 —
International Marine Art Exhibition Coastweeks Regatta Antique Vehicle Show Members’ Annual Meeting International Marine Art Exhibition Beer Tasting Chowder Days 2013-2014 Adventure Series begins Sights & Frights begins PILOTS Weekend Trick-or-Treat
SAVE THE DATE!
Mystic Seaport Members’ Annual Meeting
Friday, September 27, 2013 ANNUAL MEMBERS’ MEETING & AFTERNOON TEA 3 -4:30 p.m. River Room State of the Museum Reports• Board of Trustees Elections Milestone Member Recognition • Memorial Tribute
SPECIAL MEMBER ACTIVITIES 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tours & Programs FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT WWW.MYSTICSEAPORT.ORG OR CALL 860.572.5331.
Be sure your membership is up-to-date and plan on Mystic Seaport being your place of choice for a summer filled with maritime heritage and the celebration of same. See you on the grounds.
STEPHEN C. WHITE President
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SPRING / SUMMER 2013
The image detail used in Stephen White’s “Seascapes” is by ANTHONY DAVIS, Up Close and Personal, 22" x 36" PASTEL For more information on this artist, please contact: The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, 860.572.5388
A D VA N C E M E N T N E W S
WALTER ANSEL (LEFT) AND JON WILSON.
JON WILSON AND WOODENBOAT RECIPIENTS OF THE
“WoodenBoat is being challenged to continue to chart new courses for the future. And so is Mystic Seaport. In fact, we’re being challenged to find whole new ways of navigating. We’re challenged to find new ports and harbors – while carrying essentially the same cargo that we’ve carried from the beginning. “Now, it might seem as if that cargo is composed of, in part, our artifacts, our subject matter, our material goods – our exhibits, and our [magazine] issues. But we have to remember that our true cargo is INSPIRATION. “When we stand upon the deck of a working vessel... When we hold an issue of the magazine in our hands… When we gaze upon an exhibit… When we row or sail an exquisitely built and balanced boat... Or when we learn how to build, or row, or sail
such a boat in the very ways it was carefully crafted to be built, rowed, or sailed – what then happens to us almost defies description, its power captures our hearts. “That is the true cargo we convey around the world. It’s the heart of INSPIRATION – and of the traditions of America and the Sea.” These thoughts were excerpted from remarks made by Jon Wilson, the 2012 recipient of the America and The Sea Award when it was presented to Jon and WoodenBoat at a Gala Dinner on October 27, 2012, under a beautiful tent at Latitude 41° Restaurant at Mystic Seaport. With its commitment to the celebration and preservation of the skills, treasures, and traditions of the sea and shore, the mission of WoodenBoat is in total consonance with the mission of Mystic Seaport. We are a
museum that strives to inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience. This event, the seventh annual Gala, generated $320,000 in support for Mystic Seaport. This wonderful result is a testament to the quality of character of our honoree Jon Wilson and due in large measure to the support of his many, many friends. It is also an endorsement for work being done at WoodenBoat and Mystic Seaport which gives us all a reason to be hopeful about the future, our history, tradition, maritime skills, and wooden boats. Chris Freeman is Interim Director of Advancement at Mystic Seaport.
SPRING / SUMMER 2013
| Mystic Seaport Magazine |
ADV ANCEMENT NEWS
MUSEUM PILOTS PROGRAM TURNS 40
MYSTIC SEAPORT is an ideal destination, especially by boat…
Located on the charming and historic Mystic River, Mystic Seaport offers an ideal location and access for boaters. Our docks are well protected, located north of both bridges. Enjoy the sights as you travel up the river, just a short distance from Long Island Sound. Experience the grounds by yourself in the evenings – reported by many to be the most magical part of the experience – dine at Latitude 41º or walk to downtown Mystic to enjoy fine dining and shopping. Dockage includes power, water, wireless internet, and other amenities as well as use of the grounds during your stay for you and your guests arriving on board. Reserve your dock space for the 2013 season today. Members receive discounted dock rates. If you’re not a member, it’s not too late to join! Contact us to join or make a reservation by calling 860.572.5391 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org – membership is not required.
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SPRING / SUMMER 2013
“Ninety persons (55 PILOTS and 35 wives) assembled promptly at noon on Saturday, May 5, at the Seamen’s Inne to take part in what promises to be a new dimension of member involvement at Mystic Seaport. Enthusiasm ran high from the outset as the group dispersed throughout the grounds after lunch to study at close range the many specific challenges we face in five principal areas: large vessels, small craft, museum exhibits, library and education/youth training.”(From the report of the first meeting of the PILOTS held at Mystic Seaport May 5-6, 1973.) And thus the PILOTS program commenced 40 years ago. The PILOTS have certainly fulfilled the promise of demonstrating new dimensions of member involvement in the Museum. The year 1973 was an important one all on its own for the Museum: Sabino arrived for a one-year trial charter, the lift dock was completed, and the Morgan floated free for the first time in 32 years. Much has been accomplished at Mystic Seaport over the succeeding four decades. Among the highlights: the granite sea wall and Chubbs Wharf were constructed; the Williams-Mystic Program was instituted; the Rosenfeld Collection was acquired; the Rossie Mill was acquired, restored, and converted into the state-of the-art Collections Research Center; the Freedom schooner Amistad was built; the easternrig dragger Roann was accessioned and restored; and the James T. Carlton Marine Science Center was constructed. As if that were not enough, countless other artifacts have been accessioned to the collections, literally dozens of exhibitions have been mounted, hundreds of thousands of stuThrough four decades of evolution, dents have participated in our growth, and success, the PILOTS have been educational programs, schooner Brilliant made an attempt a steadfast presence. This group of to best her 1933 Trans-Atlantic members has been coming to the Museum passage record – and the list could go on and on. two weekends each year to work side-byTrustee leadership, staff side with staff and share their enthusiasm and volunteer effort, and financial support from memfor Mystic Seaport. bers and friends across the country have helped to ensure such steady and consistent progress. Through four decades of evolution, growth, and success, the PILOTS have been a steadfast presence. This group of members has been coming to the Museum two weekends each year to work side-by-side with staff and share their enthusiasm for Mystic Seaport. The PILOTS have put their hands, backs, shoulders, minds, and hearts into their work and posted a worthy record of accomplishment along the way. They have shared a lot of laughs together. Mystic Seaport is confident in our future success precisely because groups of enthusiastic supporters like the PILOTS are there to help us on the way. Please join us in recognizing the PILOTS for four decades of support for the Museum. To learn more about the PILOTS program, please visit www.mysticseaport.org/pilotprogram or contact Chris Freeman at email@example.com or at 860.912.3121.
A D VA N C E M E N T N E W S
THE 38TH VOYAGE: THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE CHARLES W. MORGAN As of December 31, 2012, Museum members and friends have invested slightly more than $8.2 million in the restoration and the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan. This progress represents 70 percent of our total campaign goal and ensures that the Morgan will be launched on schedule on July 21 of this year. Much of the physical work on the Morgan’s hull has been completed. Once she is afloat again on her own keel, our shipwrights will spend the summer months completing the work on her hull. They will then turn their focus to fitting her out, and our riggers and other specialists will begin in earnest, with the fabrication and procurement of spars, rigging, sails, and other materials. Our success thus far has been energized by two leadership donors, who gave $2 million and $750,000, respectively. Their support has inspired more than 700 other members
and friends to contribute another $5.45 million. Important funding has also been provided by the State of Connecticut and several private and family foundations. With our launch date in sight, we are now entering the next phase of this campaign. In 2014, the Morgan will go to sea once more, for the first time in more than 90 years. This ceremonial 38th Voyage will take her back to her home port of New Bedford, MA, and up the New England coast to NOAA’s 842- square-mile Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary at the entrance to Massachusetts Bay, where significant whale research is conducted, and then on to Boston. During this voyage, a global audience will witness a whaleship under sail for the first time in nearly a century. They will see that the spirit of American enterprise is alive and well and that Mystic Seaport is fulfilling the
highest ambitions of our early founders to be an inspiring force for the future through innovative educational initiatives and leadership. On this voyage, the Morgan’s cargo will no longer be oil and whalebone; instead, it will be knowledge and inspiration. The lessons learned from this important artifact will be cast in a new light. Lessons about courage, teamwork, innovation, enterprise, and leadership will come alive for new generations who will take these lessons and apply them to our modern age. Mystic Seaport is a museum that strives to inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience. Our success can significantly influence how new generations engage with our nation’s past, present, and future. Please join with those who have already made an investment in our success by contributing to the next phase of the campaign for the Charles W. Morgan: The 38th Voyage. Make a difference, play your part in helping the Morgan sail again and the Museum continue to fullfill its mission.
PRESERVING FOR THE FUTURE Whaling and merchant ship logbooks make a fascinating read. It is, however, never more fascinating than when reading the words of a seafaring ancestor. “One of the great pleasures of my work at the Museum is to place in front of a visitor a written record of a family member’s exploits,” says Paul O’Pecko, Vice President of Collections and Research and Director of the G.W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport. Recently, the staff of the G. W. Blunt White Library was able to help a visitor, Judey Sawyer Buckbee, with research on her family’s maritime history. Thrilled with their discoveries, Mrs. Buckbee says, “The entire Blunt White staff provided an invaluable research service and has given me a priceless gift by enabling me to hold and read not only my great-great grandfather William Albert Sawyer’s log from the George Moon, but also his brother-in-law Charles Sisson’s log from the Jeremiah Thompson.” She continues, “Both
are a huge part of my family’s history, and I would love to help publicize the treasures that are to be found within the walls of the G.W. Blunt White Library!” “Thanks to the generous support of our members and friends, the logbooks are safely preserved in the Library housed in our stateof-the-art Collections and Research Center,” O’Pecko says. “The Collections Research Center, with its secure, climate-controlled spaces, protects one of the world’s best maritime collections of art, artifacts, photos, books, manuscripts, ships plans, film, and more. The collections now have a chance to survive hundreds of years and be available for future generations. “I hope that you will help us continue to preserve and maintain our premier maritime collections by making a gift today to the Annual Fund,” O’Pecko says. “It truly makes a difference.” Thank you for your support!
PAUL O’PECKO, VICE PRESIDENT OF COLLECTIONS AND RESEARCH. SPRING / SUMMER 2013
| Mystic Seaport Magazine |
RESTORING AN ICON
By EVELYN ANSEL
t 7:02 a.m. I sidle into the carpenter’s shop and sit in one of the mismatched chairs surrounding the low shop table. I grab my steel-toed boots from beneath the ten-foot slab of live oak and crouch to lace them onto my feet. The other apprentices* are assembling around the table as they trickle in, leaning over benches and chair backs, sipping coffee and talking quietly while waiting for our foreman, Rob Whalen, to announce today’s “marching orders.” He pulls a bundle of notecards from his back pocket, shuffles for a moment, and clears his throat – it’s another Monday morning on the Charles W. Morgan. While Rob assigns tasks for the day, I look around at my companions. Currently, there are ten apprentices and eighteen shipwrights working in the yard. Among the apprentices, our interests are as varied as our motives for signing on. For us, the Morgan restoration is a waypoint; some intend to make a living as boat builders while others hope to pursue careers in museum studies or maritime policy and law. Our backgrounds are similarly diverse, from the children and grandchildren of local ship smiths, lobstermen, and shipwrights to the sons and daughters of bankers and doctors. In the yard hierarchy we rank at the very bottom, but collectively comprise a
A Morning in the Shipyard CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A SHIPWRIGHT PREPARING FOR THE INSTALLATION OF THE APRON. ON TOP, FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE SHOP.
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SPRING / SUMMER 2013
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: INNER BULWARK PLANKING ON THE STARBOARD SIDE FORWARD; RYAN STOKES AND SEAN KELLY FASTENING PLANKS ON THE PORT SIDE AFT; ROGER HAMBIDGE AND DOUG PARK PREPARING FOR THE INSTALLATION OF THE APRON; A PLANK MIDWAY THROUGH FASTENING; A VIEW OF THE SHOP FROM THE SECOND LEVEL OF SCAFFOLDING IN THE MORGAN TENT.
vital cog in the mechanism that is a functioning and productive shipyard. Our assignments are often less than heroic, but we work alongside and learn from some of the most talented shipwrights in the industry. My attention returns to the group as we are counted off in twos and threes. As has been the case since my arrival last spring, much of the apprentices’ time this week will be spent supporting the four shipwrights on the planking crew. This is presently the most intensive of the fronts on which we are engaged; the stem and transom are equally critical but also more focused projects with fewer shipwrights dedicated to each task. The apprentices assist the shipwrights at all stages of the planking cycle as we work up towards the waterline: planing, steaming, hoisting into place, fastening, fairing, oiling, caulking. This pattern clocks continuously around the boat. Each team of apprentices has a somewhat specialized skill set, and so we shift around the hull accordingly. Though I do my share of trunneling and fastening, I have primarily worked as a caulker since signing on to the project.
Our foreman turns to me: “Miss Evelyn. Topsides.” I nod – reefing out rotten oakum and recaulking the stretch of planking above the waterline has been my assignment for the past few weeks. I head over to the bench I share with my father to grab borrowed and inherited irons, a mallet, and a milk crate for my pound of cotton roving. I stop by the door to pull half a dozen skeins of oakum from the mountains spun during that stretch of days last August when the heat index hovered relentlessly over a hundred. I sling my gear under one arm and duck out the door, across the lift dock and towards the tent. Later, the entire shop wall at my back will swing away to allow forklifts to come and go, planks and beams swinging ponderously, balefully, from fully extended booms. For now it remains shut, sustaining the 7 a.m. cool left from the night. I hike up to the third level of
scaffolding, which strikes slightly below the Morgan’s deck. The sun is well up now. From above, I can see the whole yard, even past the pole barn, the story-high ship’s saw, neatly stickered stock, 40' lengths quietly awaiting planing and shaping, the mountain of offcuts, crooks, and knees. I can feel the light beginning to warm what I affectionately think of as our sprawling, overgrown, OSHAapproved treehouse. Before putting earmuffs on to guard against the noise of my own mallet, I stop for a moment to listen to the yard waking up below me. Sounds and smells that formed an incomprehensible sensory knot when I first arrived have begun to tease themselves out into distinct and recognizable strands: the citrus-sweet smell of WD-40, the warm contrast between the brightness of yellow pine planking, and the live oak behind it, a muddy dark smell, so strong
you can almost taste it. The oily texture of oakum spun over your knee on a stretch of canvas, that distinct rising scent of smoky black tea. I can hear the difference between a saws-all growling through wrought iron drifts and a power planer stalling out while fairing planking, the rising notes of a trunnel being driven inch by inch into plank and frame, the call-andresponse rhythm of shipwrights bucking and riveting back and forth through the hull. Out in the gravel yard, our two forklifts grunt and cough, warming up, turning over, complaining loudly over the drone of the planer. So the week begins, and now floating above it, through my earmuffs, is my added tattoo of mallet on iron, driving cotton and oakum into miles of seams, one inch at a time. *For the purpose of this article, “apprentice” is used in the traditional sense of the word as there currently does not exist a formal apprenticeship program at Mystic Seaport.
Evelyn Ansel, who is working in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, is also a skilled photographer and has shot the photographs for this article. In this photograph, she has her father Walter Ansel, who is a senior shipwright, on her right and her grandfather, Willits D. Ansel, a retired shipwright, on her left.
SPRING / SUMMER 2013
| Mystic Seaport Magazine |
BUILDING WHALEBOATS FOR THE MORGAN BEETLE BOAT SHOP
By MATTHEW STACKPOLE
n 2008, when the Charles W. Morgan was hauled out to undergo a major restoration, essentially being rebuilt from the waterline to the keel, Mystic Seaport knew this was a complex project. Certainly the stewardship responsibility of preserving and authentically restoring the world’s last wooden whaleship, the nation’s oldest floating merchant vessel, and the Museum’s single largest artifact, presented many challenges beyond a typical rebuilding project. For example, detailed documentation was required, as we were uncovering parts of the vessel not seen since she was built in 1841. Mystic Seaport as a museum is, in its most fundamental sense, an educational institution whose mission encompasses preserving and understanding traditional tools, techniques, and skills just as much as collecting artifacts and documents. An exciting outcome of the Morgan’s restoration is the training of a new generation of American shipwrights in large timber wooden vessel construction and the understanding and use of the traditional tools and techniques
Mystic Seaport Magazine |
used in 19th-century shipbuilding–all learned from working on an authentic real ship, a National Historic Landmark vessel. This complex project included building the seven 28-foot double-ended open whaleboats she typically carried to pursue whales on her 37 voyages around the world, and which she also will require for her “38th Voyage” in 2014. How would we be able to build them on top of everything else the project demanded? What we did not anticipate was the answer that would evolve. We built several in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, one in the 1990s, and the latest one in 2002. Those built in the 1970s were ferrous-fastened and have long since become unserviceable. The later boats, while still sound, have a vital place in our daily visitor demonstrations and therefore will not accompany the Morgan on her 38th Voyage. It then occurred to us that perhaps some other like-minded organizations might be interested in building whaleboats. But who and how could that effort be organized to assure that we had authentic whaleboats of the highest quality, as the finished boats would be part of the Morgan?
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Fortunately Willits D. Ansel, a long-time shipwright at the Museum, had researched and written the definitive book on the design and construction of whaleboats, The Whaleboat, which Mystic Seaport published in 1978. Equally fortunate, his son Walter, now one of our senior shipwrights, had built a whaleboat here with his father in 2002 and could be a lead resource along with our Shipyard crew to advise anyone building a boat. As an interesting side note, Walter’s daughter Evelyn is working on the Morgan project, too–a remarkable third generation Mystic Seaport Shipyard family! While attending a Council of
GREAT LAKES BOAT BUILDING SCHOOL
American Maritime Museums meeting, Mystic Seaport President Stephen White raised the question of whether someone other than us would be interested in building a whaleboat, as did our vice president and Clark Senior Curator for Watercraft Dana Hewson at professional meetings he attended. Subsequently, we were approached by John Brady, a colleague at the Independence Seaport Museum’s Workshop on the Water in Philadelphia, which has a highly respected boat building program as part of its ongoing operations. Brady asked if they raised the resources required and worked closely with us, they could build a whaleboat to donate to our project. He also told us they had a sponsor who was willing to support this endeavor. Given that they are a sister museum, the generosity of their offer, and the demonstrated quality of their work, we immediately and enthusiastically said yes. Not only did the Workshop on the Water do a great job building the boat, they did an equally wonderful job of featuring it as an exhibit both in the shop and online so that others became aware of what they were doing. Brady also brought Rocking
the Boat in Bronx, NY, into the picture. We were familiar with them, as they had exhibited at the WoodenBoat Show, which has been held annually at the Museum since 2007. Rocking the Boat’s mission is to “empower young people challenged by severe economic, educational, and social conditions to develop the self-confidence to set ambitious goals and gain the skills necessary to achieve them. Students work together to build wooden boats, learn to row and sail, and restore local urban waterways, revitalizing their community while creating better lives for themselves.” Meanwhile Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury, MA, began inquiring in 2011 about building a boat and, by spring of 2012, had committed to build one. Established in 1793, Lowell’s Boat Shop is the oldest continuously operating boat shop in the country and is cited as the birthplace of the legendary fishing dory. A National Landmark and a working museum, Lowell’s Boat Shop is: “dedicated to preserving and perpetuating the art and craft of wooden boat building.” Also in the spring of 2012, Tom Jackson, WoodenBoat magazine’s senior editor, mentioned the whaleboat project in his column “Currents,” which generated more interest. During last summer’s WoodenBoat Show, Eric Stockinger from the Apprenticeshop in Rockland, ME, Bud McIntire from the Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville, MI, and Bill Womack from the Beetle Boat Shop in Wareham, MA, began discussions about building whaleboats for us. And then another amazing thing happened. Peter Kellogg, a great advocate and supporter of traditional wooden boat building, who supported the two first efforts, on his own contacted a group of museums and boat building schools offering to donate $25,000 of start-up money for these organizations if they wished to build a whaleboat. To say Mr. Kellogg has been a catalyst for this project is an understatement! His offer resulted in a series of conversations with various organizations. Eventucontinued on page 12
LOWELL’S BOAT SHOP
GANNON AND BENJAMIN BOATYARD. © MARK LOVEWELL, FOR THE VINEYARD GAZETTE.
As of the beginning of 2013, these are the participating organizations and the building stages of their boats: Alexandria Seaport Foundation (VA): committed, not started The Apprenticeshop (ME): started Gannon and Benjamin Boatyard (MA): started Great Lakes Boat Building School (MI): started Independence Seaport Museum (PA): nearly finished Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (VT): committed, not started Lowell’s Boat Shop (MA): started New Bedford Whaling Museum/Beetle Boat Shop (MA): started Rocking the Boat (NY): started Wooden Boat Factory (PA): committed, not started It is Mystic Seaport’s hope that some of these whaleboats will be exhibited at the WoodenBoat Show on June 28-30, 2013.
ROCKING THE BOAT
WHAT TO DO WITH TEN NEW WHALEBOATS? The Museum is now faced with a delightful dilemma: What to do with a newly created fleet of ten whaleboats? While the answer is not yet totally clear, it is beginning to evolve. What we do know is that we will have new opportunities to tell the whaleboats’ own stories in a variety of ways. Mystic Seaport is committed to having each of the new boats on the Morgan for some portion
of her 38th Voyage, as she will carry seven at a time. While the Museum envisions at least five boats remaining on the whaleship as part of her exhibit role after the voyage, we also picture some of the boats joining our dynamic demonstration squad in their daily activity. There could also be special events on the Mystic River involving these whaleboats, with one or two perhaps going on the road to
participate in whaleboat events elsewhere or serving as a traveling exhibit. After the 38th Voyage, the donating organizations that have built a boat can, if they wish, bring their own boats back for special occasions or exhibits. The New Bedford Whaling Museum, for example, plans an active use of their boat in the whaleboat races that already take place in New Bedford and, potentially,
as part of their exhibits and outreach programs. Other organizations may follow suit. With the exception of the 38th Voyage and the exhibit part, none of this is set in stone. The number of boats being built provides great flexibility that we have not had before. We are sure that ideas on how best to use these boats will continue to develop just as the building of the boats did. M.S.
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W H A L E B O AT
RA C I N G :
To Calm Your Nerves with a Rowing Chantey “Catch positions!” Six people waiting for the call: “Power 10!” Keep the rhythm, row hard, row together. We’re gaining! Silent power 10! The boatsteerer is the eyes of the boat; the rest of the crew is too focused on pulling. “Steady, watch the stroke!” All the blades hit the water together, one sound, one motion. This is a whaleboat race… For Mystic Seaport’s demonstration squad, the whaleboat drill is one of our favorites. It lets us use the techniques of the past every day to educate Museum visitors on this amazing boat. For some of us, however, that love of the whaleboat has transcended into a competitive sport. Mystic Seaport has sent one or more teams to compete at New Bedford’s Working Waterfront Festival in MA every September for the last four years. The teams are composed of whoever is willing to get up early to row before work or stay after a long day on squad to get in some oar-time. The race is one mile long: twice around a figureeight. Knowing how not to tire out your crew on the long straightaways is the key to keeping up the power in the four turns. The boatsteerer has to maintain the inspiration to keep the crew going. During the 2010 race, the coed team even broke out into a rowing chantey to calm everyone’s nerves and get back on the right track. The boats used in the races are fiberglass versions of the “Beetle” whaleboats that we row daily at Mystic Seaport. However, although they are identical in design, with their carbon fiber oars and greater buoyancy, they are quite different to row. Many a night the teams would drive up to New Bedford to get some rowing time in these boats. Every year our whaleboat team gets better and better. In 2011, our coed team won the coed division and came in second overall. For the 2012 race, the team only had one woman and therefore rowed in the men’s division (two women are required to race in the coed division). They came in first in the men’s division and first overall. Where can we go from here? It looks as if 2013 will be a great year for rowing at Mystic Seaport. As long as the weather cooperates, you might see us out on the Mystic River in early spring – we are getting ready for the next race. Debra Coats is a member of the Museum’s demonstration squad and Mary K. Bercaw Edwards is foreman of the demonstration squad.
Building Whaleboats continued from page 11
ally the New Bedford Whaling Museum in partnership with the Beetle Boat Shop, the successor organization of the famous Beetle Boat Building Company, signed up, as did the Wooden Boat Factory in Philadelphia, which is using the Independence Seaport Museum’s Workshop on the Waters shop, and the Alexandria Seaport Foundation in Alexandria, VA. Most recently, the well known Gannon and Benjamin Shipyard of Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, supported separately by donations restricted to their project, committed to building a boat and included several young volunteers in the effort. Having a boat built on the Vineyard is particularly appropriate as the first Captain of the Morgan, Thomas Adams Norton, and five other of the ship’s total of twenty-one captains hailed from the island. Lastly, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum committed in mid-January to build a boat as part of their excellent boat building program. In all, ten organizations are building or planning to build whaleboats. All of the boats will provide increased visibility for the Morgan project in communities and constituencies from Virginia all the way North to Maine and Vermont and West to the Great Lakes, accomplished through passionate high quality work by like-minded organizations and people who share similar missions and values as Mystic Seaport. The necessity to build authentic whaleboats to go on the whaleship, accurate in every detail, expands the educational opportunity to pass on traditional knowledge and skills beyond the Morgan to small boat construction, all as part of a nationally important historic restoration. By building one of the finest examples of an American-developed small boat, one whose remarkable seaworthy design was required by the boat’s function, the builders are our partners in an extraordinary enterprise to help our country remember and learn from its maritime past in all of its complex elements. Matthew Stackpole is the Museum’s Morgan Restoration Project historian.
A PHOTO FROM THE 2011 RACE; THE MYSTIC SEAPORT TEAM IS IN THE FOREGROUND.
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Charles W. Morgan JULY 21, 2013
B y D a n M c F a dd e n
he launching of a ship is a moment of great excitement. The vessel, carefully prepared, is ready to slide down the ways and touch the water for the first time. A crowd gathers: shipyard workers, the owners and company officials, special guests, perhaps a notable public figure or two, and those
interested in seeing the spectacle. Speeches are made, words said, and at the culmination a bottle of champagne is broken over the bow. The wedges and blocks holding back the ship are knocked out and â€“ if all goes as planned â€“ the vessel is off with great fanfare and hits the water with a huge splash. After months or years of construction, this is a special moment; the point when the hull takes on a life of its own and begins a career that may be entirely predictable or, in the case of the Charles W. Morgan, it took the ship on an adventure to the far corners of
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CHARLES WALN MORGAN (1796-1861). 2004.48.1.
HOW THE ARTIST JOHN F. LEAVITT DEPICTED THE CHARLES W. MORGAN BEING BUILT AT THE HILLMAN’S SHIPYARD IN NEW BEDFORD. 75.167.
A VOLUNTEER REEFS OUT CAULKING BETWEEN SOME OF THE OLDER PLANKS.
SHIPWRIGHT TOM DANIELS EXAMINES THE PRECISE FIT OF A PLANK.
the globe and a lifetime that has lasted far longer than anyone present at her original launch could have imagined. Little is known about the details of the first launch of the Morgan on July 21, 1841, in New Bedford, MA. The only newspaper account, which appeared in the morning edition of the New Bedford Mercury, simply said, “A fine ship of 350 tons burden, intended for the whalefishery” had been launched. Her owner, the successful whaling merchant Charles Waln Morgan, made a brief entry in his journal. He wrote:
vation Shipyard this summer on the 172nd anniversary of that first foray into the Acushnet River, it too will be a busy day. The Morgan has been out of the water since November 2008 and the Museum will mark the event with appropriate pomp and ceremony. Prior to the launch, the scaffolding and plastic that has protected the ship from the elements for the last several years will be removed so her cradle can be pulled out and centered on the concrete pad leading to the shiplift. She will then be hauled out onto the lift dock, ready to be lowered into the water. On the day of the launch, the ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. to coincide with high tide on the Mystic River. Tradition calls for speeches to mark the occasion. The keynote address will be delivered by Ric Burns, the awardwinning documentarian filmmaker. Best known for his series New York: A Documentary Film, Burns began his career with the celebrated series The Civil War, which he co-produced with his brother Ken. He has since tackled a variety of notable projects for PBS including Coney Island, The Donner Party, The Way West, and Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film. Burns has a special connection to whaling and Mystic Seaport that makes him the ideal candidate to articulate the importance of the day. In 2010, he wrote, produced, and co-directed a film for the PBS series American Experience about the history of the whaling industry, Into the
A fine warm day – but a busy day – This morning at 10 o’clock my elegant new ship was launched beautifully from the Hillman yard – and in the presence of about half the town and a great show of ladies. Clearly pleased with his new vessel, he continued: “She looks beautifully on the water.” Interestingly, she was launched without a name. That came several weeks later when nephew and partner Samuel Griffitts Morgan named the ship after his uncle. Initially, Charles W. Morgan was not particularly happy with the decision, noting in his diary on August 9, “I don’t entirely like it.” In the end, he let it stand. When Mystic Seaport launches the ship in the Henry B. duPont PreserLEAD SAWYER SCOTT NOSEWORTHY USES A TEMPLATE TO PLAN THE CUT FOR A HANGING KNEE.
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Deep: America Whaling & the World. The film is the story the Museum seeks to tell with the Charles W. Morgan, and in fact the ship provided a set for some of the scenes in the film. As in most any launch, when the big moment arrives a bottle will be broken over the bow of the ship. While it would be preferable to follow history and recreate the original moment, as noted there is no record of what, if anything, was used in 1841. Precedent at the time would have called for a wine or spirit, perhaps even a beer, but Charles W. Morgan was a Quaker and it is unlikely he would have approved of an alcoholic beverage to christen his ship. The decision of what to use is presenting the Museum with an opportunity to mix historic protocol with a look to the present and future. Contrary to the popular image, in this launch there will be no dramatic rush down the ways punctuated with a great splash. The shiplift is designed to carefully raise and lower historic vessels and minimize the stress on their hulls and rigs. Once the signal is given, a switch will be thrown and the Morgan, decorated with flags and bunting and sporting a temporary mast, will slowly lower into the river. The Shipyard estimates it will take
about 20 minutes from the moment her keel enters the water until she floats freely over her blocks and poppets. What it may lack in momentary drama and excitement, this launch will make up for with anticipation. The current restoration is the fourth major one undertaken since the Morgan arrived at Mystic Seaport in November 1941. The primary focus was on the hull below the waterline and addressed planking and frames many of which dated to her original construction. A substantial reconstruction of portions of the bow and stern were required as well. Prior topsides work in the 1950s and 1980s suffered from fresh water intrusion which lead to rot and had to be replaced. After a period of evaluation, analysis, and documentation involving both traditional techniques and the most modern laser scanning, a plan of restoration was finalized and work could begin in earnest. The ceiling planks that line the inside of the hold were removed to provide access to the ship’s frames. Over the course of many months, the futtocks that make up the frames, timbers six-foot long or larger of dense live oak, were inspected and painstakingly replaced as needed. Once finished, new ceiling was installed so attention could turn
SHIPWRIGHT PHIL ANDREWS INSTALLS COPPER SHEATHING ON THE SHIP’S KEEL.
A V olunteer E ffor t
project the scale of the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan can only be accomplished with the help of lots of people. One of the groups that has been essential to the project is the Museum volunteers. A core team has been at work on the ship from the beginning, scraping paint, sanding, repainting—whatever needs to be done. A particular success of the volunteers was the sales of trunnels to visitors. A trunnel, a term derived from “treenail,” is a large peg, about 18 inches long, that is one of the primary fasteners throughout the ship. Last July, shipwright Rob Welch suggested that one way to increase public involvement and raise funds for the restoration along the way would be to sell trunnels. For $5 a person could buy, sign, and perhaps leave a message on a trunnel that would later be used on the ship. That way their names and thoughts would become part of the hull for posterity. Since the Shipyard could not support the staff to man the sales table, the volunteers stepped in to make it happen—and the sales rolled in. Through the end of 2012 a dedicated team of ten managed to sell 2,061 trunnels, which raised $10,308 for the Morgan. In addition, ten trunnels were auctioned off for $1,000 each at the America and the Sea Award Gala last October. Thanks to the volunteers and to everyone who bought a trunnel!
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to the exterior planking. This order of work was crucial to preserve the shape of the hull. With the ceiling out and futtocks being replaced, it was up to the exterior planking and the cradle to maintain the shape of the hull. Once the internal work was complete, those members could then maintain the shape while the exterior planking was worked on. All told, about 140 planks will have been replaced when the job is done. It is estimated that 15-18 percent of the ship’s original fabric will remain, including the same keel that was laid down in New Bedford in 1841. A major challenge for the Museum was to find suitable materials for the job. Live oak, longleaf pine, and white oak of suitable dimensions and quality for shipbuilding are extremely difficult to source today. However, this provided an opportunity to find, “save,” and reuse materials that otherwise would have gone to waste. Grand live oaks brought down by Hurricanes Katrina and Ike were sculpted into futtocks and hanging knees, a cache of wood buried and long forgotten at the former Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston was unearthed, donated to Mystic Seaport by the Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital and Walsh Brothers Construction Company, and trucked to the Museum. Within days the wood
THE PROPOSED STOPS ON THE MORGAN’S 38TH VOYAGE IN 2014.
was being cut and shaped for use on the Morgan. Carefully selected and cut by master shipwrights at the height of their trade in the 1860s, the Charlestown wood could not have been more perfect for the job. And early this year, with the help of trustee Barclay Collins, several trees downed by Hurricane Sandy at the New York Botanical Garden were donated for use on the ship. The selection of white oak and fir will find a new life on the Morgan, which while not as ideal as their former role, does provide a fitting use for such special trees. The end result of all this work is that this is the most comprehensive restoration since she was built. “There is no reason not to think she will last another 170 years,” observed
Quentin Snediker, director of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, “It is a rebirth for a new generation.” But even though the launch of the Morgan will be a milestone, the restoration is not yet complete. There is still a lot to be done before she can embark on her 38th Voyage next year. There is substantial interior carpentry to be done. The foc’sl, captain’s cabin, and chain locker need to be reassembled. The davits and various elements of deck gear need to be reinstalled, there is a lot of painting to be done, and, of course, she needs to be re-rigged. Taking her back to sea also requires the installation of a number of modern systems. The ship will need bilge pumps, a generator, fire-suppression equipment, a new electrical system, and a navigation and communications suite. While this may sound intrusive, every effort is being made to preserve the ship’s historic status and screen the modern gear from visitors. Once she returns from the 38th Voyage, everything not necessary will be removed as she returns to being an exhibit at her berth at Chubb’s Wharf. The launch of a ship is a spiritual moment for those involved in building her. The hull is the body of the ship and when she touches the water and begins to move for the first time on her own bottom, it is a form of animation. In this case, the launch will be setting her back in motion, but after almost five years high and dry on the hard, that motion will be just as momentous. Walter Ansel, one of the senior shipwrights on the project, worked on the Morgan during the major restoration in the 1980s. When asked what was different this time, he said, “This effort was larger because in the back of our minds we know she is going back to sea and that raised the bar. In a way that made her much more of a live ship.”
Dan McFadden is Director of Communications at Mystic Seaport. A PLANK FOR THE MORGAN COMES OUT OF THE STEAM BOX AS THE JOSEPH CONRAD LOOKS ON.
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NEW EXHIBIT: ADVENTUROUS USE OF THE SEA When they gathered at a New York steak house 91 years ago to share their enthusiasm for offshore sailing, twelve men created a club that now numbers more than 1,200 men and women around the world. The Cruising Club of America (CCA), as they named it, still observes the goals the founders proposed: to create a club for those who favored long-distance cruising rather than day sailing and racing; to establish an offshore race between two countries, which almost immediately turned into management of the biennial race to Bermuda; to promote the development of safe boat designs and safety equipment; to encourage ocean sailing by establishing the annual Blue Water Medal, which recognizes well-planned and wellexecuted long-distance or extreme ocean voyages; and to collect and publish information on best sailing practices and members’ expeditions to promote safe ocean sailing. Without a central club house, the Cruising Club of America has long considered Mystic Seaport to be its unofficial headquarters, and its archive is located there. So an exhibit on the CCA is equally at home at the Museum, especially in the
room that honors one of its most influential members, the yacht designer Olin J. Stephens II (1908-2008) of Sparkman & Stephens. For several years a committee of CCA members and Mystic Seaport staff met to work out an exhibit plan that reflects the Club’s origins and ongoing work, including a section on influential designs by Olin Stephens. Exhibit designer Charlie McMillan designed a color-
ful, interactive exhibit with large photo murals, which was fabricated by The Taylor Group. CCA members leave their wakes in the Arctic, off Antarctica, and in the track of the first solo circumnavigator, Captain Joshua Slocum. But you can catch up with them, and the influential work of their club, in the Museum’s new exhibit in the G. W. Blunt White Building, “Adventurous Use of the Sea: The Cruising Club of America.” Andy German is the former editor of The Log of Mystic Seaport and the former director of Publications at Mystic Seaport.
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TOM LOVES TO TELL STORIES Tom Brillat, director of the Interpretation Department at Mystic Seaport since October 2012, has a passion that fits right in with his new job. To clarify – Tom was president of the League for Advancement of New England Storytelling prior to joining Mystic Seaport’s role players as Captain Thomas Nelson. He recalls the fervor he felt when assigned as an interpreter aboard the Charles W. Morgan his first summer on staff. Fast forward three and a half years, and Tom now has the fresh and exciting challenge of managing the Interpretation Department and formulating a strategic plan for the future. Tom speaks from experience when he says, “There’s a marked difference between explaining an exhibit and actually acting as a particular person of the 1800s era. What’s most important for any interpreter is feeling comfortable in front of people; you don’t need to be a schooled actor or actress.” He rates the talent amassed within the Interpretation Department as extraordinary. “I want to utilize that talent in ways that will engage visitors more
– get them personally involved.” Tom feels good communication within the department is the key to bringing future goals to fruition. Candidly, Tom admits sailing for long periods is a little out of his comfort zone, but he has raced competitively, and his ancestry attests to a strong seafaring connection in the family genes. He is certain of one thing: “If I’m offered the opportunity to be on board when the Charles W. Morgan sails in 2014 – I’ll be there!” It was at the U.S. Naval Academy, where Tom majored in history, that his interest in naval and maritime American history became firmly rooted. After graduating and completing his Navy commitment, Tom experienced sailing old square-rigged vessels and ultimately served as executive director of the Tall Ship Bounty Foundation. A glance at Tom’s curriculum vitae tells a story itself and is proof positive that Mystic Seaport’s Interpretation Department is in very good hands. Trudi Busey is a volunteer at Mystic Seaport.
MUSEUM PARTNERS OFFER LUXURY AND STYLE Since 1868 the Ocean House has sat on the hill above nearby Watch Hill, RI, and welcomed guests to spend their vacation at the shore. A fine example of the grand resort hotels that were once common up and down the New England coastline, the Ocean House is now the only remaining hotel out of six that once stood in this town. Beautifully rebuilt and reopened by a new owner in 2010, the Ocean House again welcomes guests to enjoy the shoreline in style and luxury. Mystic Seaport has been pleased to partner with the hotel on a variety of projects in the last couple of years. Our traveling exhibit of photographs from the Rosenfeld Collection, “The Art of the Boat,” was displayed at the hotel and artifacts from the collections rotate in the lobby and common rooms. The Museum’s Maritime Art Gallery participated in the hotel’s Artists in Residence program in 2012 and will do so again
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this year. Gallery artists Robert Noreika, H. Gray Park IV, David Monteiro, Cindy Baron, and Director of the Maritime Art Gallery Jeanne Potter each spent a long weekend to use the hotel and grounds as their muse and share their work and expertise in programs for the guests. Longtime Mystic Seaport member Jack Spratt has generously donated his time and boats to offer Ocean House guests exclusive day sails and excursions on his vintage catboat Trim Again and repurposed Mackenzie Cuttyhunk swordfishing boat
Encore with all proceeds going to benefit the Museum. “Capt. Jack” would pick up guests at the hotel, drive them to the dock in his Model T, and then treat them to a variety of trips on Fishers Island Sound, including a sunset cruise, seal watching off Stonington, and a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum. So far his work has raised almost $20,000 for Mystic Seaport. For more information about staying at the Ocean House or Jack Spratt’s benefit cruises, please call the hotel at 401.584.7000. Dan McFadden is Director of Communications at Mystic Seaport.
2012 ORION AWARD WINNER: MICHAEL GRAHAM The 2012 recipient of the Orion Award for Excellence in Experiential Education is Michael Graham, who is a history and civics teacher at the Charles Morgan School in Clinton, CT. He has been a key collaborator in the development of the Museum’s Online Learning Community and the “Adventures in Research” experiential education program. Graham’s approach in his teaching is to bring students out of the classroom and into the field for first-hand encounters with the places, artifacts, and activities that allow MICHAEL GRAHAM RECEIVING THE ORION students to develop critical 21st AWARD FROM SARAH CAHILL. century life skills. He is a great partner for Mystic Seaport and we are lucky to have such a talented and inspirational educator on our team. Sarah Cahill is Director of Education at Mystic Seaport.
For information about the Orion Award, and to nominate teachers to receive this award, please go to www.mysticseaport.org/orionaward
LIGHTING UP THE SKY On November 10, Mystic Seaport celebrated the whaleship Charles W. Morgan’s 71st year in Mystic with free admission and fireworks in the evening that were sponsored by the Mohegan Sun, a local casino. With the weather gods on our side, the “Morgan Day” was a great success, with around 4,400 visitors on the grounds during the day. To this figure can be added more than 2,000 visitors who watched the spectacular fireworks from the Museum shore. Countless other spectators were standing on the other side of the river or watching from the drawbridge in downtown Mystic. It was a welcome celebration and distraction on a dark November night, or as one grateful visitor put it in a letter to Mystic Seaport: “Tonight, we attended the Fireworks. There were so many people there, and looking around the Museum/out across the river, was so beautiful. People are weary from the economy, from the election, from the storm [Sandy]. Thank you so much for a beautiful evening and Fireworks display. What a nice thing to do, during such trying times.” In short, we can all do with a little sparkle in our lives now and then.
FUNDING STUDENTS’ PROGRAMS DENNIS MURPHY (LEFT) AND ANDY PRICE, THE MUSEUM’S SKILLED PHOTOGRAPHERS, ARE GETTING READY FOR THE NEXT MISSION: TO GET A GOOD PICTURE FOR THEIR UPCOMING “EXHIBIT” ON THE MUSEUM’S WEBSITE.
MYSTIC SEAPORT THROUGH THE CAMERA LENS A majority of the photographs in the Mystic Seaport Magazine are taken by the Museum’s skillful photographers Dennis Murphy and Andy Price. Whether an event at Mystic Seaport is big or small, either Andy or Dennis – or both – are there with their cameras to perpetuate the event and the people attending. Of course, of all the pictures they shoot, only a fraction will be used or show up in the Mystic Seaport Magazine. This spring, beginning May 1, the Museum’s website will feature a selection of photographs by Andy and Dennis chosen by them to entertain and amuse our website visitors. To see for yourself, please visit www.mysticseaport.org/photos
Mystic Seaport has received $100,000 from the Beagary Charitable Trust to engage all 5th-grade students in ten school districts in northeastern Connecticut with activities in-school, at Mystic Seaport, and virtually. This funding is critical to provide access to Mystic Seaport for students who otherwise would not be able to participate in our programming. Each year for three years, every 5th-grade student will be able to experience an on-site educational program at the Museum, an inschool program, and a virtual “field trip.” The funding will also be used to develop educational programs to celebrate the “Year of the Charles W. Morgan” during the academic year 2013–2014. Participating school districts: Brooklyn, Canterbury, Eastford, Killingly, Pomfret, Plainfield, Putnam, Sterling, Thompson, and Woodstock. SPRING / SUMMER 2013
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Scraping Paint, Caulking, and Taking Reaper down to England Every second year, Mystic Seaport staff has the opportunity to apply for funds from the Mallory International Exchange Fellowship Program for professional development activities and research abroad. Three applicants were picked for the 2012 program: Amanda Nicholas, who is Program Manager of Anchor Watch, went to the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, Scotland; and Maribeth Bielinski, who is the Collections Access Manager, and Krystal Rose, who is the Project Manager of the Online Learning Community, traveled to the Azores in the wake of the Charles W. Morgan’s voyages there.
AMANDA STEERING REAPER DOWN THE EASTERN COAST OF SCOTLAND.
By AMANDA NICHOLAS
he Scottish Fisheries Museum, tucked away in the town of Anstruther on the southeastern coast of Scotland, has forged a relationship with Mystic Seaport since the early 2000s. It began with Williams-Mystic professor Rich King taking time from his graduate studies at the University of St. Andrews to volunteer alongside the museum’s Boats Club. These museum members are a special group of men and women who work tirelessly on the museum’s floating emissary, the herring drifter Reaper. Built in 1902, the 70-foot Reaper is home to exhibits detailing Scotland’s fishing heritage. Started in 1985, the Boats Club is one of three special member groups who meet at and support the Scottish Fisheries Museum. The club consists of twenty active participants who come from across the United Kingdom from all professions. Several are retired fishermen and skippers, but all of them are incredibly devoted to Reaper. Thanks to the generosity of the Mallory Fellowship Grant, I continued a growing tradition of visits to and from this institution and Mystic. (The Boats Club sent twelve members to visit Mystic in 2007). It was fantastic how everyone associated with the club quickly welcomed me into their lives, work, and homes throughout my three-week stay in February last year. Within the first afternoon my schedule was packed with museum meetings, excursions, and visits to many homes for tea. Besides scraping paint on Reaper and helping re-caulk her sister vessel, White Wing, I jumped at any opportunity that was offered to me. I experienced accessioning artifacts, rowing a St. Ayles skiff with the Rowing Club, conducting interviews, joining
BARRY KEENAN ADJUSTING REAPER'S GANGWAY DURING HER VISIT TO WHITBY, ENGLAND.
their knitting club, journeying to Dundee, Edinburgh, and Pitlochry, and of course, trying haggis. In addition, I shared Mystic Seaport’s experiential programs with their staff and board in a special presentation before attending their board meeting. Through the kindness of club president John Firn, his wife Marion, and so many other members, the trip expanded from three weeks to include a few days in London and a return excursion in August. The London leg allowed me the opportunity to explore the capital city of the U.K., collect educational supplies, and meet fellow public historians. Thanks to the support of Dr. Robert Prescott, a renowned maritime historian and influential member of the Boats Club, I met with the overnight education coordinator for the HMS Belfast. Through our conversation it became clear that whether aboard Belfast or the Joseph Conrad, the same challenges face overnight programs on the River Thames and the Mystic River. In August, I returned to see Reaper’s mission in action as I joined her crew traveling down the eastern coast to Whitby, England, for the Whitby Folk Week and Whitby Regatta. Reaper remained dockside during this festival, open to visitors and collecting donations. The vessel was interpreted to thousands of visitors during our stay by seven incredible crew members, fellow Mystic Seaport employee Barry Keenan, and myself. Throughout my trips it was inspiring to see Boats Club members not only maintaining Reaper, but sharing her mission with the visitors. Whether it was exploring Scotland’s historic vessels, meeting with museum professionals, or exchanging my old Nantucket recipes for the Tea Room manager Shelia’s Scottish ones, I will cherish my work abroad. I made life-long friends and am honored to have continued the professional development between these two institutions. DONALD MCDONALD ON BOW WATCH AS REAPER CRUISES PAST BASS ROCK IN THE FIRTH OF FORTH.
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In the Wake of the Morgan in the Azores By MARIBETH BIELINSKI and KRYSTAL ROSE
ore than one hundred years ago, in what was a frequent event for many whaleships during that period, the Charles W. Morgan dropped anchor at the islands of the Azores. In addition to the obvious goal of hunting and processing the elusive sperm whale, the visits allowed ships to stock up on provisions and recruit native islanders to fill out shorthanded crews. Flash forward to the current day as we embarked on a similar island voyage. The goal of our trip was not to hunt, but instead to take part in the celebration of the sperm whale – Semana dos Baleeiros (Festival of the Whalers) – and to study the history of Azorean whaling and the islands’ connection to the Charles W. Morgan. After a four-hour flight, and once safely on the island of São Miguel, we began our whirlwind tour. During our two-week trip, we visited four of the nine islands of the Archipelago of the Azores: São Miguel, Flores, Faial, and Pico. While visiting each of the islands, we were struck by their unique beauty and the obvious role that whaling continues to play (despite the international ban on commercial whaling ratified in OUR LADY OF 1986) within the local comLOURDES, PATRON SAINT OF munities. Flores, the most THE WHALERS. undeveloped of the islands, had us immediately sympathizing with the plight of crew members of the Morgan, who unquestionably had to resist the urge to abandon ship and
reside permanently in this paradise. Hydrangeas, beautiful waterfalls, quaint stone cottages, and a breathtaking coastline pulled us back into the past. Aside from telephone wires and the occasional automobile passing us by, little has changed on this island since the Morgan’s last visit roughly one hundred years ago. The citizens of the Azores have made impressive efforts to preserve their culture. Through celebration, they pass on their way of life and their whaling past to subsequent generations. One such example (and the highlight of our trip) was the annual whaling festival in Lajes do Pico. This week-long religious festival culminates with the procession of the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, the patron saint of whalers, out to and back from the sea in symbolic representation of the safe return of all whale men. Our invitation and subsequent participation in the whaleboat races was truly
KRYSTAL ROSE (LEFT) AND MARIBETH BIELINSKI.
TEAMS FROM AZOREAN VILLAGES PREPARE FOR WHALEBOAT RACES.
PHOTOGRAPH OF A LARGE BULL SPERM WHALE CAUGHT OFF LAJES DO PICO, AZORES IN 1965. 1965.889.1.
LIGHT-UP WHALEBOAT ON DISPLAY AT SEMANA DOS BALEEIROS FESTIVAL.
an honor and privilege that we did not expect. The sight of more than a dozen brightly painted whaleboats manned by multiple generations of local family members is an experience that we will cherish forever. In summation, we were extremely pleased with the opportunity to travel to the Azores and represent not only Mystic Seaport but the American maritime community as well, on a trip that was made possible by the generosity of the Mallory International Fellowship Exchange Program. Our time on location went by quickly but was well spent, as we have established many professional contacts that we hope to further cultivate in the months and years to come. The travels of the whaleship Charles W. Morgan and its interaction with the peoples of the Azores is an ongoing endeavor, a project that we are thrilled to be part of.
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Clash of Eagles BY CAROL LEA CLARK (LYONS PRESS, 2012, 280 PP) Reviewed by GÖRAN R BUCKHORN
After Napoleon Bonaparte had moved his army into the Ottoman Empire in 1799, the year following his invasion of Egypt, there was an awakening interest in the Western world about Palestine. While Palestine had been a separate country in the Roman Empire, the Ottomans considered it part of Syria and regarded it as a simple backwater of their Empire. In 1847, close to five decades after Napoleon’s invasion, U.S. Navy Lieutenant William Francis Lynch, who had acquired a taste for exploration during voyages to South America and China, suggested a scientific expedition to Palestine to John Mason, Secretary of the Navy. Though the official mission of the expedition was to map the Dead Sea, Mason hoped that it would also “advance the character of the Naval service,” especially as the U.S. Navy at the time played a minor part in the Mexican-American War. While Mason saw the voyage more as a publicity stunt that would give the Navy some much-needed headlines in the newspapers, Lynch had an agenda of his own. At this time, the world still offered some unexplored spots on the map. For many years several European countries had sent explorers and scientists to put their countries’ flags on newly discovered pieces of land. Lieutenant Lynch wanted to be part of this competition against the Old World as he believed, with many of his countrymen, that it was America’s destiny to take on the challenge to fight for a preeminent place among nations. To this purpose can also be added a more religious mission, as Carol Lea Clark writes in Clash of Eagles: “America was God’s new chosen country, and Lynch hoped that the exploration would firmly establish an American stake in Palestine, God’s original Promised Land.” On November 20, 1847, Lieutenant Lynch, commanding the USS Supply with a crew of fourteen officers, sailors, and volunteers including his own son, Francis, left the Brooklyn Navy Yard for a four months’ voyage to Haifa. On April 1, 1848, Lynch and his men, after having gone through the usual Ottoman bureaucracy, received permission from the authorities and started their journey through the desert in a caravan with local Muslim tribesmen acting as guides and “guards.” When it came to their own safety, the Americans only trusted themselves. They were probably the most well-armed Westerners moving across these parts since Napoleon’s failed campaign to conquer Palestine. To be able to sail or paddle the Sea of Galilee and travel down the Jordan River to reach the Dead Sea, Lynch had brought with him two reassembled metal boats mounted on carriages. The carriages were dragged through the desert by camels, “ships of the desert,” which Lynch later described as “clumsy-jointed, splay-footed, wry-neck, vicious […. and] incomparably the most disagreeable” creature. The Lynch expedition was largely forgotten, perhaps because it took place at a time when the Bible was regarded as literal truth and religious beliefs still cast a shadow over scientific proof. With its thrilling components of facts about a journey of several weeks under a hot sun among sheikhs, Bedouins, sometimes hostile tribes, and brave American sailors (who probably were the first undisguised Western Christians to visit certain holy areas since the Crusaders), Clash of Eagles reads like a boy’s adventure book. Clark bases her story on Lieutenant Lynch’s own writing and reports from the expedition, which were published a couple of years after the American explorers had fulfilled their mission to measure the Dead Sea. Her book is a good read. Göran R Buckhorn, who is the editor of the Mystic Seaport Magazine, has some experience himself traveling through a desert. Exactly 25 years ago this spring, he and two Swedish friends crossed the largest and hottest sand desert in the world, the Sahara. They were driving an old 1968 VW bus, which was as temperamental as Lynch’s camels, from Tunis in the north to Lomé in the south.
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ROOSEVELT’S NAVY by James Tertius de Kay
Many books have been written about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or “FDR,” as president of the United States. One of the most recent biographies, published last year, is Roosevelt’s Navy: The Education of a Warrior President, 1882–1920. Author James Tertius de Kay spins a good yarn of a story about the privileged young FDR, his years at Groton School, and his resolute climb of a sometimes not steadfast political ladder. One of the most important turning points in the young FDR’s life was when his fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, became president after President McKinley died from the wounds of an assassin’s bullets. It was “Cousin Ted’s” favorite niece, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, whom FDR would marry – and not always be faithful to. In this easy read of a book, de Kay concentrates on FDR’s first 38 years, including his eight years as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson. The author emphasizes the formative influence of those years on the man who would become the 32nd president of the United States.
THE MORTAL SEA by W. Jeffrey Bolster
The western Atlantic fishing banks, which stretch from Cape Cod to Newfoundland, have attracted fishermen for more than five hundred years. In The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail, historian Jeffrey Bolster makes a convincing case that these waters have been overfished for a long period, even before factory trawlers set out to make “fishing” an industrial enterprise. Drawing on a mix of extraordinary explorers and fishermen, maritime biology and ecological awareness, the author tells a riveting story about one of the world’s largest ecosystems that is headed for an environmental catastrophe.
THE IMPOSSIBLE RESCUE by Martin W. Sandler
For anyone interested in the Arctic and good old adventure stories, Martin Sandler has penned an exciting true saga of old-fashioned heroism in his The Impossible Rescue. In September 1897, several whaleships were surprised by early, heavy ice in the Arctic Ocean at Point Barrow in north Alaska. In all, nine whalers found themselves trapped in the ice. Captain Tilton managed to get his vessel Alexander free, and she immediately headed back to her home port San Francisco to inform the authorities that 265 men were stuck in the ice in a dire situation and would soon face starvation. By order of William McKinley, president of the United States, a rescue party was sent out on the Bear, a vessel belonging to the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. The Bear’s mission was to get as far north as possible and set three officers ashore who would then trek 1,500 miles to Point Barrow with a herd of reindeer as food for the stranded whalemen. Would they get there in time? Not only does Sandler tell a fascinating tale, the book has an appealing design with black and white photographs taken by one of the rescuers.
by Stephen Taylor In his marvelously written biography of Edward Pellew, the greatest frigate captain of the age of sail, who nowadays is forgotten but in his time was an admired hero of the Royal Navy, Stephen Taylor states that Patrick O’Brian’s fictional character Jack Aubrey is based on Pellew. This swashbuckling captain was as brave as any famous fictitious master and commander, including Aubrey and Hornblower. With his 44-gun frigate Indefatigable, Pellew chased and attacked larger French ships of the line in the English Channel. Pellew, who came from a modest background, joined the Royal Navy when he was 13 and had a career there almost as honorable as Nelson’s. Although a forceful captain toward his enemies, Pellew was a generous man in their defeat. He was loved by his crews, to whom he showed great affection.His last action was to attack Algiers on the Barbary Coast to free Christian slaves in August 1816. It was a complete victory for Pellew, but it came at a high cost of dead and wounded British seamen. Pellew later wrote: “We did not combat for kings or governments, but for our suffering fellow creatures.” When he died in his bed at 76 years of age, in 1833, Pellew was a viscount and an Admiral of the Fleet.
WHEN AMERICA FIRST MET CHINA
by Eric Jay Dolin Has the Chinese century begun? Is America’s star on the wane? If the past is prelude, When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs and Money in the Age of Sail can us help understand the present and perhaps prepare for the future. Dealing with vast and complex issues in a single volume is always a challenge, but Eric Jay Dolin has proved his facility for doing so with his Leviathan and Fur, Fortune and Empire. In this, his most recent book, Dolin examines the first century of this nation’s relationship with the Middle Kingdom. The cast of characters indeed includes emperors, presidents, merchant princes, exotic ladies, ship captains, pirates, and drug dealers. The first voyage from the U.S. to China, an empire that had existed for two millennia, began even before the treaty ending the War for Independence was ratified. The author casts his net wide as he explores the origins of this relationship that continues to seek a point of balance. His book is as intriguing as it is of value. Glenn Gordinier, Ph.D., is Mystic Seaport’s Robert G. Albion Historian.
TO ORDER THESE OR OTHER BOOKS, please call 860.572.5386. or email firstname.lastname@example.org DON’T FORGET YOUR 10% MEMBERS’ DISCOUNT! REMEMBER WE SHIP ANYWHERE!
What’s Up? Gunsmoke!
Travel back in time at Mystic Seaport when 150 Civil War reenactors from all around Connecticut and the U.S. Naval Landing Party of Massachusetts will set up camp on the Museum grounds. We promise our visitors a thrilling weekend filled with drills, demonstrations, lectures, a troop landing, and the firing of muskets and cannons (June 1–2).
Chant Way-ay-ya Everyone is invited to the 34th Annual Sea Music Festival, one of the world’s premier sea music events. Together with the Museum’s chantey staff, a core of performers from maritime cultures around the globe will sing and play music from the golden age of sail. The weekend festivities include concerts, special performances for children, workshops, and more. Special tickets are needed for the evening concerts (June 6–9).
Boats, Boats, Boats… For the seventh year in a row, the Museum will host the famous WoodenBoat Show. For three days visitors can browse through exciting exhibits, watch demonstrations, buy merchandise from vendors, and just enjoy being around 13,000 other wooden boat enthusiasts. In conjunction with the WoodenBoat Show, Mystic Seaport will also hold the Small Craft Workshop, where you can get out on the water in all kinds of small watercraft (June 28–30). One month later, join us for the dazzling Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous. On display will be antique vessels such as cruisers, sailboats, and runabouts (July 27–28).
For Those Young at Heart Welcome to the 22nd annual Marine Engine Show at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. This is the largest marine engine show in the country with more than 100 exhibitors who will have hundreds of pieces on display. Steam, gasoline, diesel, electric, and naphtha engines will huff and puff away to please your eyes and ears (August 17-18).
Messing About in Boats Watch as women and men, boys and girls, juniors and masters race down the Mystic River in their beautiful shells at the 22nd annual Coastweeks Regatta, which starts the fall head racing season in New England. Do you have a boat of your own? Sign up to be part of the fun (September 15).
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MY MYSTIC SEAPORT
MY MYSTIC SEAPORT One of the most popular features in the Fall/Winter 2012 issue of Mystic Seaport Magazine was the article “My Mystic Seaport.” Here are seven more “voices” from the Museum. One of the dedicated employees of Mystic Seaport is Sally Ackley, Mystic, CT, who is Assistant Director of the Visitor Reception Center (VRC), where she began working 23 years ago.
both rewarding and challenging. With over 300,000 visitors walking through the gates each year and calls coming over the switchboard, as well as e-mail inquiries, there are many questions to answer. Fortunately for me, the knowledgeable staff helps in this endeavor. When visitors comment on what great experiences they have had on the grounds, and how much they have learned, it is due to the combined effort of everyone at the Museum working together. Being on the front line, I always hope that we, the VRC staff, will be able to give the visitors a good first impression.
What is your Mystic Seaport? My Mystic Seaport is the Visitor Center. Working in the VRC can be
For the seventh consecutive year, James Miller, Belfast, ME, has been a special visitor at Mystic
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Seaport during midsummer. In James’s wake come 100 maritime vendors, people who bring more than 100 classic and traditional wooden boats, and approximately 13,000 Museum visitors. What does James do? He is in charge of the WoodenBoat Show which will grace Mystic Seaport again on June 28-30 this year.
What is your Mystic Seaport? I live a long way from Mystic and visit mostly as part of the WoodenBoat Show team. What I value about Mystic Seaport is the relative simplicity and quiet of the village. We all live fast-paced lives and that pace is not likely to slow down. When I enter the grounds of the Museum, I can feel my blood pressure fall as I leave all of the modern-day noise and hassle behind. Everywhere I look there is something that will catch my interest, and when I have absorbed enough, there is always a convenient bench upon which to reflect on a village from long ago. Dayna Carignan, Hopkinton, RI, began working for Mystic Seaport
MY MYSTIC SEAPORT in November 2010 as the in-house graphic designer in the Marketing Department.
What is your Mystic Seaport? Before I started my job at Mystic Seaport, I worked for a large corporation in an industrial park, so I truly value the natural beauty here. Each season brings new splendor, from the buds on the enormous magnolia tree outside my window that indicate the first sign of spring and kickoff of the busy season, to the gently falling snow in the cozy, quiet winter months. I try to stroll the grounds daily during my work week, which helps to inspire me as a designer and reminds me to appreciate the incredible setting of my workplace. If you have not met Larry Kelly, Niantic, CT, you might at least have talked to him–that is, if you have ordered books from the Mystic Seaport bookstore, where he has worked since the end of October 2007.
What is your Mystic Seaport? It is the history that is brought to life here. Take all that is accomplished in the Shipyard, for example. It is also how staff and volunteers interact with the visitors, who speak with enthusiasm about their experience on campus when they come into the bookstore afterward. It is the vessels, the grounds, the gardens, the events, the collections and what is available for research, the exhibits, and demonstrations. Here in the store, it is the aromas coming upstairs to the bookstore from the bake shop! Additionally, at authors’ events, the staff who are working with me, always go beyond my expectations. I do also enjoy meeting and listening to the authors and speakers at the Maritime Author Series and the Adventure Series, or getting to know authors who are doing book signings in the store. Sharon E. Cohen, Boston, MA, and Noank, CT, who became a Trustee of Mystic Seaport in September 2010, has had a long relationship with the Museum. She participated in the Joseph Conrad and Brilliant programs in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and was a Conrad instructor in the summers of 1982 and 1983.
SHARON E. COHEN
What is your Mystic Seaport? As a teenager in the Conrad and Brilliant programs, I felt Mystic Seaport was a fascinating place
where I could experience a different world and appreciate its challenges and accomplishments – all while making friends and gaining self-reliance by skippering a dinghy on a windy day. My love of all things maritime grew as we sailed Brilliant to ports where she was welcomed and admired, a stunning ambassador of the Museum’s devotion to maritime excellence and education. Building on my earlier experiences, becoming a trustee here has re-engaged my eager support of Mystic Seaport's ongoing mission. Andrew Breece, Noank, CT, began working at the Museum three years ago, first in the Advancement Department, and since May 2012 as the director of Alumni Relations and Development at Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program.
matter – fascinates or inspires me quite like the watercraft collection of Mystic Seaport. “Miss L.E. Ackerman,” who manages Ackerman Boardinghouse on the Mystic Road, moved together with her mother to Mystic Bridge from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, nearly 13 years ago in November 1863. She says, “Several of my older brothers had good work here in the yards then, and we all boarded while I finished school & then taught at Miss Porter’s School for Girls. Mother was able to buy the boardinghouse in 1870, so I returned to manage it. We board mostly the gentlemen from the Mallory & Greenman shipyards – any shipping news comes to our dinner table first!”
MISS L.E. ACKERMAN
What is your Mystic Seaport? My three biggest passions in life are people, boats, and the sea, so coming to Mystic Seaport was all too much of a natural path. I very clearly recall the moment when I found my Mystic Seaport. During my first week of work, I was introduced to the watercraft collection in the Rossie Mill, which I will forever refer to as “my Mecca.” As a wooden boat enthusiast and student of naval architecture, I would say no place at the Museum – or in the world, for that
What is your Mystic? Mystic has become my home in many ways. In the Spring, I love hearing the mallets & saws from the shipyards – and watching the first base ball games. The 4th of July thrills me as from the Bandstand I see patriotic neighbors come together. I have learnt to row, and Greenmanville is prettiest seen from the water on a sparkling Autumn day. At Christmas, exciting pageants keep my needles flying! But best of all are the quiet moments in the Reading Room when I am asked, “What is Mystic like in 1876?” I smile and say, “Let’s find out together.”
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FROM THE COLLECTIONS
The Story about a Picture by Paul O’Pecko
A PRETTY PICTURE OF A NASTY BUSINESS
n 1874, a shipmaster from the Bronx, John E. Barstow, made a voyage from New York to San Francisco carrying coal and “various kinds of valuable timber” for Mare Island Naval Shipyard near San Francisco. Expecting to return home via land, he was, however, asked to stay on as master to make a trip to the islands off Peru to take on a load of odoriferous sea fowl droppings, a product known as guano. After dealing with a mutinous crew in Callao, Captain Barstow made his way to the guano deposits at Point Lobos. There he found approximately 220 vessels waiting to load their shipments of guano, with English, Norwegian, and Italian ships making up the majority of those at anchor. The watercolor shown here depicts Point Lobos and is one of many illustrations that the good Captain included in his journal. But why would any ship make its way to the west coast of South America to load such a noxious cargo? As with any other commercial venture, the answer was profit. Agricultural practices of the time led to less productive yields in farmers’ fields, not just in the United States, but around the world.
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Early in the 19th century such explorers as Alexander von Humboldt found the guano deposits and carried samples back to Europe with a description of their bountiful fertilization properties. The cold current that runs northward along the western coast of South America carries Humboldt’s name and supports some of the most productive fisheries in the world. Sardines and anchovies are especially abundant and attract millions of sea birds, especially cormorants and gannets. Over the centuries these birds have established rookeries on many of the nearby islands and their droppings have accumulated to the depth of one hundred feet or more, with the deeper deposits being as hard as stone. Entrepreneurs eager to make a profit marketed guano as the soil savior that it is, being rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The bone-dry Peruvian islands set the gold standard as containing the most desirable fertilizer and attracted the biggest share of the industry. The profit to be made from the business encouraged many merchant houses to set off in search of new guano islands, but none ever yielded
the quality and quantity of these islands. Making that profit, however, was not an easy business, as Captain Barstow and others came to realize. For example, Barstow speaks of his charter allowing him three months to load his cargo; otherwise he would be required to pay an additional fee for another 30 days. He arrived on the grounds in August of 1875, but because of the vagaries of the weather, he did not complete loading until July of 1876. This pretty little watercolor from the brush of a Bronx ship captain certainly tells many more stories than meet the eye. Captain Barstow’s papers form Manuscripts Collection 67 in the G.W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport. Paul J. O’Pecko is Vice President of Collections and Research and Director of the G.W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport.
To get more information about Mystic Seaport’s Collections Research Center and online resources, please visit http://library.mysticseaport.org
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SAFEGUARD MYSTIC SEAPORT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
Turn your love of the sea and Mystic Seaport into a lasting legacy by including the Museum in your estate plan. From simple bequests to charitable remainder trusts, there are many ways to support Mystic Seaport while minimizing estate taxes and maximizing your charitable giving. To learn more, please visit www.mysticseaport.org/legacygiving
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June 28–30, 2013 Summer Begins at The WoodenBoat Show!
• Learn new skills at the expert demonstrations • Board over 100 beautiful wooden boats • Build a boat with your family • Admire boats built by other WoodenBoat readers
• Explore a variety of marine
accessories, books, art, tools, kits, plans and so much more!