Boatbuilding Accomplishments

New Builds

Kim 1992

22′ Muscongus Bay Sloop

I built the Kim between trips as a tanker mate and used her to start the charter business as an excuse to go sailing. Thirty years, and five boats later, my goal for the business has not changed.

Thomas E. Lannon 1997

64.5′ Fredonia Style Schooner

Tom Ellis asked me to build the Lannon in the summer of 1996, before he really knew what he was getting in to. Shortly thereafter I became her designer by default. At the time many folks thought it was “impossible” but, together, we made our dreams come true.

Lewis H. Story 1998

30′ Chebacco Boat

In the fall of 1997, on the heels of the Lannon project, Dave Brown asked me to give to give the Essex Shipbuilding Museum a proposal to build a Chebacco Boat. Using all volunteer help, we laid the keel February 2 and launched her on September 26. 

Fame 2003

52′ Chebacco Schooner

When Mike Rutstein started digging into the history of the original Fame he had to have a replica with which to tell her story. Since Fame’s launch Mike has made his vessel into as successful a charter boat as the original was a privateer.  

Isabella 2006

39′ Schooner

We designed Isabella for Bill Greene to take his thirteen grandchildren sailing in. In 2021, Bill decided to give her back to us. In 2022 she will join the Ardelle as one of our charter fleet in Gloucester, MA, taking kids and families on small group private charters. 

Ardelle 2011

58′ Pinky Schooner

Building the Ardelle was a humbling experience. She was constructed almost entirely of recycled material which  was either scrounged or salvaged from other boats. Family, friends, and a community of wellwishers supplied the labor. We now run her as a charter vessel out of Gloucester, MA.

Major Restorations & Rehabilitations

Chrissy 1994-2007

30′ Friendship Sloop by C.A. Morse, Friendship, ME, circa 1910.

Chrissy commercially fished until after World War II when Ernie Weigleb bought her for pleasure use. Ernie’s son said that rebuilding her was a continuous process after that. From 1993-2007 I owned and chartered her every season. I would agree with his statement.

Bald Eagle 2002

37′ Schooner. Designed by S.S. Crocker & built by Bud McIntosh, Dover, NH, 1955.

Paul Cole and Judy Nast hired us to help them rebuild Bald Eagle. We removed her iron keel, replaced much of her deadwood, re timbered most of the boat, replaced most of her floors, her keel and all her keel-bolts. In addition to re powering the boat we  also replaced her deck, cabin, bulwarks and the top of her transom. 

Maine 2007-2010

39’ Pinky Schooner.Designed from 1830’s half model owned by Franck C. Adams. (designer and builder of the Sylvina W. Beal) and built by the Apprenticeshop and Maine Maritime Museum 1981-1986

I took stewardship of the Pinky Maine in 2006, got her operational, and used her in the charter business until 2010. While we ran her more in that five year period than she had been run in the previous twenty, there was no practical way to get ahead of the many years she had been neglected. So after the 2010 season we laid her up in the marsh and built Ardelle using a lot of gear we salvaged from her. 

Maria 2016-2017

23′ Friendship Sloop by C.A. Burnham, Essex, MA, 1971. 

In 2017, with a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council my son, Alden and I rebuilt the first boat his grandfather built. We replaced the keel, sternpost, horn timber, all the frames, the top of the transom, the deck, the cabin, re powered the boat and built it a new rig and sails. Alden not only learned a great deal but got a wonderful boat. 

Ernestina-Morrissey 2008-2019

Ex. Effie M. Morrissey/Ex. Ernestina
110′ Fishing Schooner. Designed by Mel McClain & built James & Tarr, Essex, MA, 1894.

In 2008-2009 I oversaw 1.1M restoration of the vessel’s bow and foredeck and wrote “guidelines for work on Essex Built Vessels” on my own time to give the yard standards to work to and the Coast Guard some sense that the work was done correctly. Unfortunately, these standards condemned the rest of the vessel and made it obvious that before she could sail again, a major rehabilitation of the entire hull structure would be required.

In 2013 I was hired to re engineer the vessel and wrote a phase 1 Preservation Plan that included estimates and timelines to rehabilitate Ernestina Morrissey‘s hull for use as offshore sail training vessel for Mass Maritime Academy. 

In 2014 I worked with DCR and Mass Maritime to develop the bid package and assist with the bidding process. Two competent contractors bid on the project and their bids closely framed my estimate. 

In 2015, after the contract was awarded, I was hired to oversee the work in the yard. By default I wound up writing the yard’s plan for the work and payment. Part of this plan involved them hiring my trusted friend Herman Hendrickson to help them procure the wood and another part of which involved them hiring Master Shipwright David Short to lead the project. 

 I left the Morrissey in the spring of 2019 with the hull in better than new condition and with phase 1 of the Preservation Plan completed on time and considerably under budget. 

Sylvina W. Beal 2018-Present

80′ Knockabout Schooner, Frank C. Adams, Boothbay Harbor, ME, 1911.

Sylvina W. Beal an auxiliary herring fishing schooner built in just under six weeks for Charles Henry Beal from Beals Island Maine. She was built by renowned shipwright Frank C. Adams in East Boothbay Maine, who also built some of Gloucester’s most famous vessels including the “White Ghost of the Atlantic,” the Elizabeth Howard. Around World War I Charles Henry Beal sold her to the Peacock Canning Company in Lubec, ME where she was put to use as a sardine carrier, a role she continued in until 1980. After 79 years in the fisheries, she was sold to John Worth who restored her sailing rig and rehabilitated her into a windjammer a business she has remained in ever since.

We took stewardship of her in 2018 believing the value of her history exceeds the cost of time and effort it will take rehabilitate her. The extent of the work she needs justifies not only restoring her but bringing her up to meet or exceed all the demands and requirements of a modern passenger schooner and she is now awaiting that work in our yard in Essex.


The Passenger Fishermen

Part of the appeal of the LANNON, FAME, ARDELLE, ISABELLA, and SYLVINA W. BEAL in America’s oldest seaport is that they are all honest, indigenous, commercial craft, and they must earn their keep to survive. For four centuries, Gloucestermen have met the demands, changes and challenges of their time, targeting the most abundant and profitable species of fish. Despite the rewards, this work has often been difficult and dangerous and it left Cape Ann with strong cultural ties to her vessels, her working waterfront, and the ocean beyond.

Each generation brought people from all over the world to fish from Gloucester all of whom helped to give the city its rich ethnic heritage. On the other hand Gloucester most often turned to Essex for its fast, able, and profitable vessels. For the most part, the “passenger fishermen” are no exception.

The idea was simple and straightforward. In the face of ecological and regulatory disaster on the fishing grounds, owners saw a strong demand in people who wanted to preserve and experience our cultural heritage. The “passenger fisherman” were either specifically designed or rehabilitated to meet this demand both as authentic representations of fishing craft from different era’s, and as Coast Guard certified passenger vessels. Since their inception their constant presence in Gloucester harbor has done as much to keep our maritime culture alive as the vessels’ construction or rehabilitation has done to revive Essex’s shipbuilding heritage.

The families that built, own, and operate these vessels risked their time, and money, hoping for a return and they are extremely proud of their investments. Not only have these vessels helped their generation and the next to extract their livelihood from the sea, they give students, residents, and discerning tourists a chance to be part of it and enjoy the land and seascapes long sought out by the country’s leading artists.

As with any real business most of the money that comes in is used to cover costs, reinvested in the vessels, paid to employee’s, or given to support our government in the form of taxes. Like the fishing schooners of the past these vessels are run on grit, economy, and hard work, which are character traits the young crew learn and absorb. This is arguably the greatest return we could ask for, for in these vessels the essence of commercial sail is preserved.

I hope you enjoy them.

Harold A. Burnham

October, 2021