From a small pool of qualified candidates, Richard "Kip" Files has been named captain of the Charles W. Morgan, the 1841 whaling ship heading to sea next year.
"The complicated part is no one's sailed her since the 1920s and so a lot of that knowledge is lost," Files said Monday, his first day on the job. "I've sailed this type of vessel but every vessel is unique. There's no one to tell me, 'Oh you don't do it that way, we do it this way to make it easier,' so we're going to have to go step by step."
Files owns and sails a windjammer based in Maine, that, like the Morgan, has no engine. He also takes an iron barque on sea trials every year out of Galveston, Texas.
The Charles W. Morgan, restored over the last five years, is set to sail out of Mystic Seaport in May. It will tour New England ports next summer.
"I think she'll sail a lot better than people think," Files said. "I've seen her out of the water. I've seen her rig. I mean, she had to be somewhat of a successful sailing vessel. She went out for six years on one voyage."
But the Morgan's future is much more tame.
"It's not Cape Horn, it's Point Judith," Files said.
He has to assemble an experienced crew from men and women sailing squareriggers in various seas.
Files is the 22nd captain of the Morgan – her previous captain took command nearly a century ago.