‘Working The Rigging: The Charles W. Morgan’
by Debbi Nelson

The Charles W. Morgan is a whaling ship built in 1841. It is proud of its distinction as the oldest commercial sailing vessel still afloat.  The only one older than the Morgan is the U.S.S. Constitution.

I photographed the ship at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut in the Spring of 2014.  Visitors are allowed to tour the ship in order to get a feel for life at sea in the 1800s.  It’s quite impressive to see crew members quickly scale the rope ladders to wrap or unwrap the magnificent sails.  The masts are so incredibly high that it must have been frightening to scale those slippery ropes during a storm or in the dark.  But like all good sailors, their lives were spent working as a team, skilled and coordinated and caring about each other.

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