The Magnificent Morgan - Bray, Maynard

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

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Tests with a scale model showed that she could be completely dug out on both sides as far forward as the fore rigging without danger of shifting around in a windstorm. Dredging was done with a 3/4-yard clamshell bucket which proved ideal for the job. It was small enough to fit between the Morgan and the adjacent docks; and because the sand would run to the bucket from beneath the hull, suction equipment was never necessary. Dredging commenced on her port quarter, then aft across the stern and back up the port side. The remainder of the stern area and starboard side were then done once the lighter shifted to that side.

Dredging took about two-and-one-half weeks and, when complete, water depth in the areas dredged was about a foot below the bottom of the keel. In under the hull the sand sloped uphill generally to the rabbet line. With over half of her surrounded by water the Morgan looked almost afloat. She began to feel alive as well, since now the rudder could be turned.

Each fall there are always several storms with wind-driven tides exceeding what little extra we needed now, but this year the weather was perfect for everything except floating the Morgan. There were nothing but clear westerlies with periodic cold fronts whose high pressure and fresh northwest winds prevented even the predicted high tides from occurring. The normal tide range of 2 1/2’ seemed to be permanently with us but we decided to make a try during November's full moon when tides of up to 3'6" were forecast.

Two additional pumps had been put aboard enabling us to pump her dry in about a half hour. The lighter was positioned astern so its steam winch could pull from a bridle we had rigged off the Morgan's quarters. Separate quarter lines had also been run astern to the dock on one side and a dolphin on the other, and were made up to six part tackles on deck. Although there are many more forceful ways to drag a vessel off the beach, these three lines provided about all the pull we wanted to impart.

Without going into detail, six attempts were made in hopes of having enough tide to float her, but each time the attendant cold fronts were more successful than we were and we just didn't get the needed tides. Minor refinements were added with each attempt - such as more digging with a backhoe around the bow to relieve the stem friction, making waves with powerboats, shifting ballast aft, pulling with a second winch from the lighter, and adding more purchase to the quarter tackles. Although the stern lifted about 14" and she rocked a good bit, the Morgan would have none of it - she needed more water to float in and that was that!

We waited a couple of weeks for that elusive easterly, but still

* Funding for digitization provided by: Mystic Seaport