Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Bedford Homecoming

To continue my story about New Bedford from previous post... The Charles W. Morgan whaling ship was built there in 1841, and on June 28th, 2014, the city of New Bedford held a homecoming ceremony for the restored vessel on her historic 38th Voyage. Festivities included an official part with speeches and music, followed by a colorful parade of ships, all captured in drawings below.

New Bedford, once the richest city in America thanks to the whaling industry, was also most progressive. City's elite, comprised of Quakers who owned ships, banks and insurance companies, fought fearlessly for the abolition of slavery. The city seal of New Bedford reads "Lucem Diffundo"  ("We Diffuse the Light"), which can be understood in more than one way. In literal sense, New Bedford was once "the city that lit the world" with whale oil used in lamps. In metaphorical sense, this culturally diverse place was enlightened enough to be first in offering freedom, protection and equality to escaped slaves. Today, New Bedford is leading efforts in offshore wind renewable energy.  

"Adjust the sales to the wind and keep moving."

"Window into the World". The Charles W. Morgan, docked in New Bedford on June 28th, 2014.

Homecoming ceremony, the official part.
Opening ceremony processional with flags from places where Morgan had sailed during her 80-year whaling career.

State Senator

President of Mystic Seaport, Mr. White
Interlude with traditional Portuguese Fado music

Parade of ships. The biggest American flag that day.
Parade of ships.
Parade of ships. Flags.


The next day, we attended a non-denominational church service at the Seamen's Bethel, the exact same church that Ishmael visits in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.”

The two plaques on the building read: The Whalemans Chapel of Herman Melvilles Moby Dick” and Seamen’s Bethel. 'In the same New Bedford there stands a whale man’s chapel and few are the moody fishermen shortly bound for the Indian or Pacific oceans who failed to make a Sunday visit to this spot.' Moby Dick

What's interesting is that the pulpit in “Seaman’s Bethel” looks like the front of a ship, which was an adaptation in the 1960’s to match Melville’s imaginary pulpit description in “Moby Dick”. The original simple box shape kept disappointing tourists, who expected the interior of the chapel to match the literary classic, so city council of New Bedford re-built it.

"He who has the steerage of my course may direct my sail." ~"Romeo & Juliet", Shakespeare
Sunday Parishioners.

Angelic voices of the choir.