Historic whaling ship to set sail this weekend

Captain Richard "Kip" Files will be behind the wheel of the Charles W. Morgann when it sets sail this weekend. (Photo: WTNH)

MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — For the first time in more than 90 years, the Charles W. Morgan will set sail this weekend.

For the next three months, the 1841 whaling ship will hit several New England ports, starting with New London, the Whaling City.

“Now this is pretty archaic because it’s rope steering,” Captain Richard “Kip” Files says from behind the wheel.

When the Morgan first sailed a single voyage could take three or four years. Files has his own 132-foot, 3-mast schooner in Rockland, Maine. But the voyage he’s about to embark on is like no other, he says.

“Of all the people in the world, a kid who grew up in Bangor, Maine, you know, and now I get to sail on one of the most historic events of my lifetime,” Files says. “It’s just a real privilege, I mean it’s an honor.”

A five-year restoration has allowed for the last wooden whaling ship to sail again.

“It can be a connection back to someone’s past,” Files says. “My great-grandfather sailed on a whaling ship or sailed on a square rigger.”

While those behind the voyage do want to make it clear there is no engine on this ship, there are some modern additions such as bilge pumps, a navigation system, an alarm system and, of course, the electricity to run it all.

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