Mystic Seaport (CT)

(continuer en français) – Published: August 27, 2022

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, United States

On the Connecticut coast, away from the big cities, lies Mystic, a village with a long history of seafaring. In 1929, a maritime museum was established here to preserve the 19th century maritime heritage, which was in danger of being swept away by technological change.

There is an average of 250,000 visitors per year, many of whom come by boat, mooring directly at the museum’s quayside for the duration of their visit.

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, United States

The Port Village

The houses that are gathered around the docks come from different ports on the New England coast. They are all authentic and were dismantled and rebuilt to form a homogeneous group of houses. Most of the activities required for navigation are represented and are being demonstrated.

In addition to shipyards capable of building and repairing the boats, there is a sail and rope factory to equip them. The cooper’s shop was also essential, as it was the easiest and most protective way to pack all kinds of goods, not only liquids. Navigational instruments and candles for lighting were sold.

There were also banks, post offices, schools and churches, printers for newspapers, administrative offices and of course taverns. All this can be found in Mystic, just as it was in the 19th century.

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, United States
Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, United States
Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, United States
Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, United States

The Charles W. Morgan

She was the last American wooden whaler in operation. Since her acquisition by the museum in 1941, she has been the flagship of the fleet. Her interior is open to the public, although the arrangements made to make her visitable have certainly reduced her rusticity.

Built in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1841, she was one of 600 American whalers hunting whales to collect oil for all sorts of uses, mainly lighting. The arrival of electricity was certainly a relief for the whales. About 70 whales were killed per campaign, which lasted about five years. The thirty or so men of the crew processed the blubber into oil directly on the deck.

The old tall ship sometimes toured American ports, where she was a great popular success.

The Charles W. Morgan
The Charles W. Morgan
The Charles W. Morgan
The Charles W. Morgan, Captain’s cabin
The Charles W. Morgan, Second’s cabine
The Charles W. Morgan, officers’ cabin

The other ships

The Joseph Conrad is the other large three-masted ship moored near the Charles W. Morgan. She was built in Copenhagen in 1882 and served as a training ship for 50 years, training 4000 cadets to navigate the northern seas. After becoming Australian and then American, the ship was donated to the museum in 1947 and continues to train young sailors.

On the quayside several workshops and boathouses have been assembled, sometimes still bearing the name of their former company. Around them, several specimens of boats show the diversity of the boats, mainly used for fishing.

The Joseph Conrad

The Emma C. Berry of 1866, this fishing boat was equipped with a wet well, with seawater entering and leaving in a part of the hold.

The Nellie of 1891 was specialised in fishing for oysters in the wild. For a long time engines were prohibited to protect the resource.

The Brilliant is a racing schooner built in New York in 1932. She also hunted German submarines during the war.

The Roann of 1944 was one of the first fishing trawlers, using an engine to move and operate a net much more efficient than hooks.

A living museum

Mystic Seaport is not just a collection of old houses, it is a living museum where old techniques continue to be used and boats set sail carrying visitors. There is also a sailing school to train future sailors and a lighthouse that operates like any other port.

The sailing school
Mystic Seaport’s lighthouse


Capitalising on the appeal of the sea to its visitors, Mystic Seaport has also assembled an extensive specialist library, such as that relating to the plans and design of ships in the past.

Customised buildings have also been designed to display objects related to the sea. For example, there is a collection of figureheads, whose particular camber is all the more evident when the rest of the ship is not there. Another gallery shows marine paintings of different styles.

There is also an annual festival of sea chanteys.


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