Like most little kids, I was fascinated by things that had the same name as me. ‘Morgan’ is one of only a handful of names that can be both male or female as well a surname, so there was no shortage of namesakes for my tiny self to discover. Roads named Morgan were in abundance, with one just a few streets down from my childhood home; at the Puyallup Fair, I discovered there was a whole breed of horse called Morgan; in fifth grade, I found out about Morgan le Fay of Arthurian legend, which was a great relief to me because up until then I’d only known about Morgan Freeman, and was thus convinced only boys were called Morgan.
This year, I discovered yet another worldly treasure with which I share a moniker: the Charles W. Morgan, last remaining American wooden whaling ship. And wouldn’t you know it–they were looking to hire a stowaway. I started my application immediately.
I might very well be one of the luckiest people in the world, because I’m one of ten finalists for the position.
Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT is a place I had never heard of before I found out about their quest to restore the Morgan, but since I did, it seems like people in all areas of my life are coming out of the woodwork with connections to it. My godmother’s father built a detailed replica of the ship, which is still very much intact; my parents once visited the ship itself, back before I existed; people I didn’t even know were into sailing have sent me enthusiastic messages about how cool the Morgan is and how much they hope I get to be the stowaway, just so they can follow the ship selfies. It seems like everybody has a story to tell when it comes to how cool giant wooden ships are.
Perhaps the coolest discovery, though, was that the ship’s name isn’t the only thing I come by honestly. As it turns out, stowing away runs in the family. My great-grandfather, Luka Vukasic, came to the US from Croatia by hiding out aboard the Martha Washington when he was only 14 years old. If only I could get a peek into what that experience was like, lurking below deck, listening to the engines churn and feeling the boat rock, wondering how long to wait before giving myself up and hoping not to be thrown overboard. In comparison, nothing I’ve ever been worried about seems to measure up, which is strangely comforting. It’s nice to think that one of the many boats sharing the water with his escape method is still around; the Washington was a steam ship, first launched in 1907 and scrapped in 1934–meaning it overlapped with the Morgan‘s years of operation by more than a decade.
When I first started my application to be the Morgan‘s stowaway, I was mostly excited about the possibility of living on a boat and getting to talk about whales and the ocean a lot. The more I learn about it, though, the more curious I get about maritime history and the people connected to it–and the people keeping that history alive. And, of course, how many more weird coincidences are waiting on board.
To vote for me to be the stowaway on board the Charles W. Morgan this summer, like my picture on their facebook page. And follow Mystic Seaport’s adventures this summer, regardless of who the stowaway is, because it’s not very often you get to see history happen again.
“Over it all, the Morgan presided like Old Neptune–the centerpiece, the king seated on a throne of gravel, towering high above the scene.” –The Charles W. Morgan by Edouard Stackpole (1967)