Our morning sessions had ended at noon, when all three groups gathered back for lunch, a chance to chat, and then to hear an overview of the thought behind the 38th Voyage and our part in it. A gam, as Ishmael explains in Moby-Dick, is meeting between ships on the open sea that allows officers and whalers on each ship to share experiences. I sat with members from different morning groups, getting to know more about the voyaging projects of several people I already knew (Hester Blum, Wyn Kelley) and several I was now meeting for the first time (the Manjiro fan, the Middlebury student composer, and the teacher from Connecticut who teaches her fourth-grade students about whaling). Such random groupings and exchanges were, consecutively, one of the great highlights of the day.
The overview of the entire 38th Voyager enterprise, and the conceptual planning behind it, was expertly conveyed to us in thirty minutes by Elysa Engleman. We learned that the voyage we soon would be taking was the unanticipated result of strategic planning in 2007 which had first led to a decision to undertake a full-scale renovation of the Morgan in order to save the ship. Then, during the course of the renovation, and especially after the arrival of Steve White as the Museum director, it suddenly became apparent that it might actually be possible to take the additional steps that would enable the Morgan to set sail again. This realization led to a new round of strategic planning during which was articulated the four-part mission of the upcoming voyage. Within that mission, we voyagers who were chosen to participate have an important function as interdisciplinary shipmates who will help document the voyage by sharing our own unique responses to sailing on the ship in its transit from port to port.
At the end of the session, we were each given a book about the Morgan itself, a visitor’s guide to Mystic Seaport, and a Mystic Seaport 2014 Charles W. Morgan calendar, featuring new images of the ship each month.