Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mystic Seaport

Mystic Ships

Up to this point I've been writing mostly about our travels in the RV, but this post is about one of spots we visited.

Regis and I have been to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut twice, once on our honeymoon, and once with the children and Mom & Dad during another RV trip to Tennessee. Sharon had never seen this attraction, so we all decided to take another visit. Mystic Seaport is a very interesting, restored maritime village. The present town of Mystic is an active seaport even today, so in the days of sail it must have been a very busy spot.

Mystic Town Square
The actual Mystic Seaport, is a collection of historic buildings themed around a working, sailing port. It is right on the harbour, so there are a number of restored ships, including a large square rigged sailing freighter the "Joseph Conrad", a fishing schooner (Similar to the Bluenose or the Theresa E. Connor out of Lunenburg, NS), and a very well restored slave ship, Armistad. There are also a number of smaller restored boats throughout the town. The buildings have probably been moved from a number of locations, and gathered here as a reasonable representation of a typical seaport from the days of the sailing ships. There was a very interesting “Lifesaving” station with a lot of information about this topic, but I doubt a lifesaving station would be positioned in a nice sheltered harbour like Mystic. There was a sail making shop, a rope shop, a shop making hoops for sailing masts, and many other similar buildings arranged around a town square with churches, schools, stores and other expected shops. I stopped at an information booth to ask about a Post Office and the gentleman manning the booth was a bit taken back, surprised that there wasn't a post office. I suggested that often these “Historical” villages have small actual Post Offices so post cards can be mailed with “Mystic” as the postmark. He thought this was a good idea.

A Square Mast?
At one end of the village there is a working ship building yard with a boat elevator to lift boats from the harbour for repairs. There was a large Whaling Vessel the "Charles W. Morgan" up on the slip being restored. You could actually walk up and into the ship to see the work being done. Walking through this part of the village you could see many aspects of the restoration underway. In one large building a main mast was being shaped. I was surprised to see them working from a square piece of lumber – you sort of think they would just use a nice straight tree that starts out round . . . . You could see the timbers that had been removed from the ship to be replaced, and a portable mill was cutting large rough planks from a large tree. This part of the village was full of people who were actually working on restoring the ship, where the “Village” itself was staffed with people trying to “look like” the people who lived here a hundred years ago.
Cutting Planks for Shipbuilding

Hoisting the Sail
The village is nicely laid out and it would be easy to spend an entire day there if you spent time in each building. There were video presentations on lighthouses, and the whaling industry, and there are always special events and presentations on maritime topics. For example when we walked up the gangplank to the sailing freighter, they were unrolling one of the sails, and invited any visitors to become involved in “Hoisting” and positioning the sail. We let Dad do this activity since he has not been getting his exercise due to so much time in the truck. We paid $21.00 to visit the village and enjoyed our visit, but being from Nova Scotia and with half our party from Lunenburg where the famous schooner Bluenose was built, and it's replica the Bluenose II is currently being rebuilt, we didn't see much we didn't already know or had seen. We had a good visit to this interesting historical town.

After our visit to Mystic, we had lunch downtown, and were back on the road headed west to Pennsylvania.

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