We moved back East over 10 years ago, and live about an hour from historic Mystic Seaport, but we'd never been until a few weeks ago. We decided to do a day trip and spend the afternoon walking around the still working shipyard.
I hadn't realized that it was essentially a similar type of open air museum as you'd find at Colonial Williamsburg complete with demonstrations on how to properly set the sails or to rescue a distressed ship at sea.
Many of the original buildings are still standing and open for you to step in and speak to the merchants; grocery, watch maker, maps, blacksmith .... all showing items from the 1700s and 1800s.
The maps show the tracks of whaling ships, and we stopped into the watch shop where all the pieces are still running including a large grandfather's clock from the 1700s. There are exhibits of small sailing boats and early racers called Cat Boats as the area became famous for competitive sailing.
The ship shown at the beginning of this post is called the Charles W Morgan (built in 1841), which is the oldest commercial ship still afloat. It sailed for over 200 years as part of the American whaling fleet. This ship was built for durability, not speed and navigated all over the world from the Arctic, to around Cape Horn. We went on board to tour the cramped quarters below deck where the officers and men lived.
I loved that this was a 'working' port and that the blacksmith was pounding away, the grocer was weighing items on the old scales and there was real salt cod drying (pictured above). Drying food is one of the world's oldest known preservation methods. Here the salted cod is dried by the wind and sun laying on wood racks. Many people think drying cod this way makes it tastier. Might be all the salt? I'm just say'n.
A quick shout out to my oldest daughter who has been into photography for the last few years. She took the vast majority of these pictures, and I'm really loving how she captured the light from inside the buildings to let the doors and windows frame the seaport. This is definitely worth stopping for an afternoon walking tour around the seaport if you're in the neighborhood.