This post belongs on the blog for two reasons. First, Mystic Seaport is about sailing and boating, obviously. Second, we enjoyed a visit with Tim, Al’s son, and his wife, Amanda, who have been traveling the western and southwestern United States for over 2 years in a 25-foot Airstream RV. We enjoyed our day with them very much and found ourselves discussing the similarities and differences between the two life style modes, RVs on land and boating at sea. Is this another case of “like father, like son”??? Tim and Amanda have a wonderful blog, WatsonsWander, that documents their adventures.
We decided to spend the day at Mystic Seaport, the “Museum of America and the Sea.” Here it is right in our own “backyard” and we rarely (maybe never?) spend any time there. We are also folks who prefer outdoor museums to indoor ones. Mystic Seaport offers hands-on activities, special events, and is a valuable education and research center, as well as a world-renowned maritime museum. There are historical boats, exhibit halls and a recreation of a New England seaport town. “A quintessential New England experience, Mystic Seaport is a link to our seafaring past and endless, year-round opportunities to immerse themselves in new worlds of hands-on history.” We chose to join and become members of the Seaport for a year so that we could visit over the coming months and see more.
The L.A. Dunton, probably the last large engine-less fishing schooner, was built in 1921 and fished the Grand Banks off Newfoundland and Georges Bank outside of Cape Cod for 30 years.
On the dock by the Dunton was a “fish flake” exhibit, and not just for show — the smell was real! These large wooden platforms, called “fish flakes” are where the fisherman laid the catch to dry, following the salting and pressing to drain the excess water (kenching) onboard during the voyage.
We climbed around in the Australia, a shallow-draft schooner built in 1862. The Australia was donated to Mystic Seaport in 1951 for use as a sail education vessel and was used as a dormitory in the Museum’s sail training program for 10 years. In 1961 she was hauled out for restoration, but the decay was too extensive to make rebuilding worthwhile. The Museum decided to preserve Australia as an exhibit of ship construction so that people can examine her “bones.” Just in case you are wondering, the Australia is not a floating vessel. She is beached and housed under a roof.
The most famous ship in the Seaport is the Charles W. Morgan, the last of an American whaling fleet that numbered more than 2,700 vessels.
Over an 80-year whaling career, the Morgan embarked on 37 voyages with most lasting three years or more. She has undergone a few restorations – 1968, 1974, and 2008 at Mystic Seaport. Charles W. Morgan was re-launched in July, 2013. The vessel left Mystic Seaport this past summer to embark on its 38th Voyage from May 17, 2014 until August 6, 2014, traveling to historic New England ports over the three months to raise awareness of America’s maritime heritage and bring attention to issues of ocean sustainability and conservation. The Morgan has resumed its role as an exhibit and the flagship of the Museum. (I can’t seem to refer to this boat as a “she” when the name is Charles W. Morgan. Just doesn’t sound right, even though ships are supposed to be female. Hmmm.)
After touring the Morgan there was still much to be seen —
Mystic Seaport has many exhibits and activities for children, including a small playground.
We decided to have lunch in Mystic and tried a new waterfront restaurant, “Red 36” which has been open for only four months. Although it was late October, we chose to sit outdoors and soak up the atmosphere. We would have enjoyed a little more sun to soak up, too! The location was great and the food was good, but the portions were small for the prices.
As for the restaurant’s name, red channel markers 32 and 38 mark the river to the north and south of the restaurant, but there are none in front of the restaurant. The owners chose “Red 36.” I suppose they could have named the restaurant Red 34 also, but not 33, 35, or 37 — Red buoys (“nuns”) are even numbered, green buoys (“cans”) are odd numbered.
The town of Mystic is a great place to visit as well. Especially for a stop at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop!
It was a fun day! We look forward to visiting Mystic Seaport again, and we sure look forward to seeing Tim and Amanda again when they visit Connecticut next summer with their Airstream.