- Moby-Dick Marathon 2013
- Sailors' Series 2013
- Scrimshaw Weekend 2013
- Old Dartmouth Lyceum
- Special Events
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- Past Programs
The Beetle Whaleboat Project
The Charles W. Morgan moved to Mystic in 1941 and was hauled out in November of 2008 for restoration. After 5 years of work she will re-launch in 2013 and embark upon an epic 38th voyage to ports in New England in 2014.
Now, with the help of the Museum’s membership, we will add an important component to her return visit to her home port of New Bedford! Mystic Seaport has agreed to let us construct one of her 7 whaleboats. When the Morgan sails through the hurricane barrier an exact replica of an original New Bedford-built Beetle whaleboat will swing from her davits.
Photographic slideshow of work in progress provided by Beetle Cat Boat.
Click here to view the slideshow in Flickr.
The Beetle Whaleboat Project will encompass the following:
During the summer 2013 aspects of the construction will take place at the Museum and include public participation.
In the fall 2013, the whaleboat will race against its Azorean cousins in the International Azorean Whaleboat Regatta.
Following the Charles W. Morgan's relaunch in 2014 voyage, the whaleboat will be available for whaleboat races and interactive educational programs.
Thanks to a remarkable challenge grant from museum friend Peter Kellogg, our membership can fully participate and feel pride in her return.
Donors of $1,000+ to the whaleboat project will be recognized at both Mystic Seaport and NBWM and receive an invitation to a private event aboard the Morgan when she is in New Bedford. All donors will be acknowledged in the Bulletin from Johnny Cake Hill and on a special sign at the Museum. Inside the whaleboat, a builder's plaque identifying the Museum and the Beetle Boat Company as the boat's builder will be permanently displayed.
Work will commence this fall. Our goal is to raise $85,000. We hope you become a partner in this epic sail. Gifts will be matched 2:1, up to $25,000.
Please contact Alison Smart, Director of Development at (508) 997-0046 x 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Photograph of whaleboats laid out on the lawn at Beetle's Boatyard. #2000.101.136
The last surviving whaling ship in America, the Charles W. Morgan, was built in 1841 in New Bedford at the yard of Jethro and Zachariah Hillman. It was one of 75 whaling ships out of New Bedford harbor that year; (New Bedford peaked 16 years later in 1857 with 329 vessels.)
Beetle Boatyard shed at 1555 East Rodney French Blvd, looking East. Whaleboat shop was on second floor. #2000.100.3426
James Beetle began building whaleboats while working for the Hillmans. From 1834 – 1854 he built over 1,000 whale boats (or about 50/year), including some for the Charles W. Morgan. James Beetle had three sons; Charles and John ran the Beetle shop on Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford, while James Clarence Beetle moved to San Francisco to expand the business for the west coast fleet. As the industry began to decline after the Civil War, the Beetle family parlayed their expertise into designing and constructing pleasure crafts.
In 1921 the Charles W. Morgan embarked upon her last sail and retired at Colonel Edward H.R. Green’s estate at Round Hill in South Dartmouth. Ironically, it was that same year that John Beetle built the first 12’ Beetle Cat sailboat; still a popular design today and built locally in Wareham. Using cedar and oak, the same materials Beetle whaleboats were composed of, the sailboat quickly caught on as a one design racing fleet at yacht clubs across New England.
During Col. Green’s restoration of the Morgan in 1924, he asked Charles Beetle to build a whaleboat for the ship as his father had done many years before. The last Beetle whaleboat was built by Charles in 1933 for the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, VA. This whaleboat would become significant later, as its lines and construction plans became part of the Mystic Seaport plan collection in 1973, and is now the one currently being built at the Beetle Shop.