NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 17, 2014

Amesbury vessel joins world's last whaleship at Navy Yard

Whaleboat made at Lowell's Boat Shop will compete in weekend festivities

AMESBURY — A 28-foot child of Amesbury arrived in Boston Harbor yesterday where it will spend the weekend docked next to the USS Constitution in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

“We are very excited,” Lowell’s Boat Shop waterfront programs coordination Alice Twombly said. “This is the biggest thing to happen to us at Lowell’s Boat Shop in the past 20 years.”

“This is the largest boat that has been built at the boat shop in its history,” Twombly said. “It’s the biggest thing that we have ever done.”

The Amesbury whaleboat — whaleboats do not have names — is a 28-foot, white-and-mustard-colored reproduction vessel that is currently attached to the the world’s last wooden whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan. The Amesbury boat is one of eight whaleboats built in boat shops and museums from all around the country selected by the Mystic Seaport Museum.

“It’s tied in with the Mystic Seaport Museum and that is the museum of America and the sea right there,” Twombly said. “So the connections were fantastic. The project was so educational for us, we learned so much.”

Built in 1841, the Morgan is the last of an American whaling fleet that once numbered more than 2,700 and sailed on 37 voyages to remote corners of the globe over an 80-year whaling career. Now the Morgan’s 38th voyage is taking it to ports across southern New England to celebrate its history, and this weekend the Amesbury boat will be attached to the Morgan as it ties up next to the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard.

It will be open for the public to board.

The whaleboats themselves will also take advantage of the opportunity to compete in a pair of races, a nautical mile and a turning race to demonstrate their capabilities.

“That should be controlled chaos,” Twombly said. “You have a 28-foot boat with six oars and you are all rushing into the same direction. Sometimes you can go straight, sometimes you can go off-course and there is a lot of flailing around and shouting sometimes. You are going to have four boatsteerers all shouting commands to their crew and all trying to beat each other out to get the the (imaginary) whale. It is pretty intense, and that makes it fairly realistic.”

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