The Magnificent Morgan - Bray, Maynard

Log of Mystic Seaport, Vol 26, No.1.(Spring, 1974): 2-16.

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The Morgan is a great old vessel, and it was her strength more than anything else which made the operation of refloating and hauling successful. Nothing I can write could equal our reaction when we inspected the Morgan as soon as she was lifted from the water on January 7th.

"She's beautiful, amazingly fine lines!"

"There's the only leak, a butt in the garboard plank."

"Look at that rabbet line - as straight as can be! She sure hasn't changed that much."

"No wonder she lasted so well, most of her planking is yellow pine and she's fastened with locust treenails and bronze spikes." "Isn't she smooth!"

"Some of those planks are 15" wide and 40' long."

"The outer stem looks like the worst part of her. The worms must have got to it long ago."

"Not much left of her sheathing now, only bits of pine and copper with some nails sticking out."

"I don't see any planking to be renewed, and most of it is original!"

"The seams look good; we shouldn't have to recaulk much more than the butts, hood ends and garboards."

"Look at the keel. With that big piece of shoe missing aft it's no wonder she pulled off hard."

"It makes you feel kind of humble to think that we couldn't build one as good today. What a magnificent vessel!"

But let's go back to last fall when Bob Holbrook arrived with his steam-powered lighter to dig her out. Already, accessible areas of the Morgan's hull had been refastened and recaulked with a new plank here and there. Topmasts had been sent down and, along with the davits, were ready for him to remove from the deck. Calculations showed that thirty-five tons of ballast should be lifted out of her hold. The digging itself began on October 16th.

To get her afloat appeared easy, provided we had the usual wind-driven high tides of autumn. All that was needed, once the permanent ballast had been removed and she was excavated, was to await such an extra high tide, pump her dry, whereupon she should float clear. Naturally we wanted her to float high so she would lift well out of her berth and not hang up when pulled aft. The numbers showed that a 4' tide (about 1 1/2' above normal) should be sufficient with the stern lifting first; thus as she was pulled off the clearance under her keel should increase, as shown in Fig. 1.

* Funding for digitization provided by: Mystic Seaport