2006-04-22_1422.40_Smiths17 power hammer15

Charles W. Morgan close to being ready for its return to New Bedford

MYSTIC, Conn. — Roger Hambidge has one foot in the 19th century and the other in the 21st. As a master shipwright he is in charge of the restoration of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, the last of its kind in existence.

As a man capable of enormous attention to detail, he's a world-class professional ship model builder, and he proudly informs a visitor that one of his boats is prominently displayed at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

At Mystic, Hambidge spends a lot of his time documenting the restoration of a whaleship that was already the most documented ship afloat.

Every plank, every beam, every futtock, every fitting of the Morgan has been meticulously recorded and photographed for the archive.

He is impressed with the ship. "She's a slaughterhouse, a refinery and a tanker all at once," he said. After this restoration, she could conceivably go whaling again. But it wasn't long after the restoration crew realized that the Morgan would be seaworthy that the decision was made to sail her around the New England ports this summer, especially including her home port, New Bedford.

Le Sueur blacksmiths: A forge, an anvil, a hammer and a community

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