As Essex shipwright Harold Burnham plans to set sail his newest creation, the pinky schooner Ardelle, from Essex Bay to Gloucester Harbor on Wednesday, the winds of change are also blowing on its destination — the newly renamed Maritime Gloucester, formerly the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center.
The new name change is not the only new rendition for the center. Along with a new board structure and executive director, the center is excited that the schooner Thomas E. Lannon, another Burnham creation, will share the harbor with the Ardelle.
Is Gloucester Harbor big enough for two schooners?
Geoffrey Richon, president of the Maritime Gloucester board, said he thinks so. He said it'll be a great addition, not only for Maritime Gloucester, but also for the city.
"It will be beautiful to see the two sailing together," said Richon. "And it'll be good for the schooner business, bringing more people here, as a destination point."
As the museum plans to utilize the Ardelle as an educational tour boat for maritime science students in Essex County as well as for passenger rides, the new schooner's arrival and presence in Gloucester is pivotal, according to Richon.
But its route to the city and the Maritime center is still unknown, said Burnham, who was working on the schooner Monday with three volunteers.
Burnham and his small crew were preparing the Ardelle for the Coast Guard's arrival to perform a stability test on the schooner today. They were placing large blue plastic barrels on the sides of the inside of the craft, to be filled with water.
Burnham Boatbuilding staffer Laurie Fullerton said the schooner must be able to carry 49 passengers, each weighing an average of 180 pounds — a heavier individual weight than covered by previous regulations.
After the barrels were filled with water of the right weight, by 3:30 p.m. Monday, the Ardelle passed the test in an hour-and-a-half-long process, according to Burnham's 15-year-old daughter, Perry Burnham.
Now with the approval of the Coast Guard, Burnham anticipates just a few more chores on the boat, including sanding the floor, said Fullerton, who painted the vessel on Sunday.
With its masts already up, Fullerton said its possible the Ardelle may make its way through the Annisquam River. But according to Fullerton, Burnham would prefer to sail around Cape Ann, a more dramatic passage. His final decision, however, depends upon the tides and whether they depart on time, which is planned to be at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
The craft is expected to arrive at Maritime Gloucester at 6:30 p.m. but it probably won't take the whole day to get there, said Fullerton.
"We'll probably moor off Rocky Neck and wait," she said.
Maritime Gloucester, at 9 Harbor Loop, will hold a welcoming party upon the Ardelle's arrival, which Richon promised will be a gala event.
"It will be one of the most significant moments in the growth of Maritime Gloucester, going from a founding period to a sustaining period," said Richon.
Richon said many of the changes that are coming to the center stem from the plans of the late Harriet Webster, who was the executive director. Webster passed away in June.
The board will be announcing the new executive director on Sept. 8 at the center's "Bluenose Dinner," a major annual fund-raising event.
Jesse Poole can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3447, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harold Burnham bears a family name that is virtually synonymous with Essex, the birthplace of approximately 4,000 schooners. He is the 28th Burnham to operate a shipyard in Essex since 1819,
Growing up in a family of shipbuilders and a town where shipbuilding is a tradition handed down over the generations, Harold has learned the standards of the past and traditional techniques. Harold Burnham has carved out a place in history as a master boat designer, shipwright and sailmaker. Like his ancestors before him, Harold has a holistic approach to vessel design, construction and operation which makes him uniquely efficient. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree in maritime transportation and fisheries from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, he draws upon extensive experience at sea, and of course, techniques learned in the famous shipyards of Essex.
The author of this blog is Laurie Fullerton. Go to www.burnhamboatbuilding.com or www.schoonerardelle.com for a look at Harold's website