AMESBURY — Lowell’s Boat Shop, a National Historic Landmark and working museum on the banks of the Merrimack River, is currently engaged in a major Whaleboat Project.
To that end, the boat shop has now raised sufficient funds to ensure the completion of a 28-foot replica whaleboat slated to complement the Charles W. Morgan, the last extant whaling ship, at Mystic Seaport, in Mystic, Conn. Of the 2,700 ships that left from American ports in search of whales, she alone survives, according to information in a press release.
Currently undergoing a $10 million restoration, the iconic Charles W. Morgan, first launched in 1841, is scheduled to sail on her 38th voyage, including various southern New England ports, in 2014. Her average voyage lasted two years, and her longest spanned nearly five years.
The historically accurate whaleboat built at LBS will be one of several such crafts on exhibit and in use at Mystic Seaport. In the 1800s, these smaller, much lighter boats worked alongside the much larger whaling vessel, enabling crews of six or so men to row or sail close enough to harpoon a whale.
Now that the building of the boat is assured, further funds raised for the LBS Whaleboat Project will be applied to the creation and implementation of a whaling and fishing industries curriculum to be offered to student groups in their classrooms or at the museum. These funds will also provide for apprenticeships, allowing six to eight area high school students to participate in the whaling boat’s construction and to acquire hands-on knowledge of America’s rich maritime history.
As Pam Bates, executive director of LBS, explained, “The Whaleboat Project is being viewed as the catalyst to making Lowell’s a sustainable educational entity. It is our largest, highest profile undertaking in the last six years, not only in terms of fundraising, but in scope of educational outreach.”