Monday, December 28, 2009

Harold Burnham featured in December 28th Boston Globe

Harold was interviewed by the Boston Globe recently and the story appeared on the front page of the Dec. 28 issue today. The story was written by veteran Globe reporter David Filipov and is called Masters keep Antique Presses Printing, Indian Drums Beating and the gist of the story is about Massachusetts artisans who have received special grants to pursue and preserve their craft. Harold was a grant recipient in 2006. The quote Harold gave the Globe is worth reading and the overall story is great.
The link is posted here -

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Seasons Greetings from Burnham Boatbuilding!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Best in 2010!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Putting the canvas covers on the sloops

Getting boats covered here at Burnham Boatbuilding is an important part of the winterization process. Harold is pictured here covering the Dream and the Maria with canvas cloth.  All the boats in the yard have canvas covers which is more attractive and sounds a lot different than plastic or shrink wrap when old man winter hits.  On the bottom left, is Harold's Dad, Charles standing on the dock a few weeks ago and on the right is Harold getting the cover on.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Splitting a log for a wooden schooner

These photos are somewhat out of sequence but yesterday Harold tackled a massive white oak log that he wanted to cut and use for frame futtocks. The oak had a natural crux that is great for frame futtocks as it is so much stronger as the grain will follow the frame. It is not easy to get a log with that much curve in it from a regular sawyer. So, Harold was particularly pleased with its curved lines. It took a total of about 45 minutes to get the log on the sawmill for cutting. Harold first used his chainsaw but then use a sledgehammer and wedges for quite a while. All the while, the wood was making its own special crackling and squeaking sounds. Finally, it split and he had it on the sawmill. Thank you Eric, for some extra muscle!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving in the barn

We did things a little differently this Thanksgiving and had the dinner (for 35) in the barn. In the pictures you see Alden, Perry and Harold chopping potatoes which Harold boiled outside on our steam cooker. The stove belonged to Grandma. After 49 years, it was finally replaced this week but with the help of a friend we hooked it up to a propane tank and cooked its last meal outside under the bandsaw for the whole family.
Also, the barn looked great and when all the food arrived it certainly was full of beautiful, delicious dishes and a fantastic turkey. The preparation was fun and everyone in our families pitched in and helped make it all happen. It was a great day and we hope to do it again sometime. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No Man's Land boat gets a new set of sails

Geoff Gordon was here this a.m. putting the masts away on his No Man's Land boat. This boat was finished by Dave Brown and volunteers at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum ( in 2004 and Geoff and his wife, Therese Sellers won it in a raffle  The two have been sailing around Cape Ann ever since.  They brought their boat here for a new, larger, set of sails. We built the first set in 2004. We are having a good time working with them planning their new rig.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November morning at Burnham Boatbuilding

November morning at Burnham Boatbuilding (above) and Daisy the dog trying to keep up with Harold

The weather couldn't be better for a boatbuilder - especially as Harold is caulking the yawl "Sawdust" inside the barn..but the barn door is open and it is still warm enough to keep it that way. The sound of a caulking mallet in an Essex shipyard is probably a familiar one to generations before us but less so now. It is one that a trained ear can distinguish very clearly from the sound of hammers and nails. It is a sound all of its own.

Friday, November 13, 2009

White Pine logs an early Christmas present

It was a busy day at Burnham Boatbuilding yesterday but it is always great to see beautiful white pine arriving at the sawmill. Harold will be using the wood from these logs for the deck of the new Pinky Maine..commonly called the "Re-Maine" as parts of the old Maine will be used on the new boat. It is probably not as commonly known outside of the boatbuilding world but finding good wood for schooner building is a huge undertaking. Part of the reason Harold can get the wood he needs, in advance of a big project, is that he cuts it all himself on the sawmill at the base of the picture. These trees were given in trade by John Abizaid of Mayer Tree Service for work Harold has done cutting cherry for John's custom-built, post and beam dream house in New Hampshire. For those of you who hate to see trees cut ...think how the tree in the foreground of this picture feels...just look at its expression of dismay!

Friday, November 6, 2009

New arrival at the yard and last sail of the season

The yard looks great these days with a lot of interesting projects lined up. Today, the Muscongus Bay sloop "Dream" owned by Tom Benton arrived from a yard in Mattapoisett. She will be worked on this winter to give the owner some great sailing days next summer out of Winthrop, MA. Now, the "Dream" sits next to two other Friendship Sloops in the yard this winter - the "Maria" owned by Harold and the "Flying Jib" owned by Sarah Beck.. In the background is a No Man's Land boat called Ariel which just came out of the water this week. In the barn,  Harold has been busy caulking the yawl "Sawdust," and is tying up a lot of other additional loose ends. Although there are still a few sailing afternoons left, he did bring the Pinky up river for her last sail about a week or so ago so we have included a picture here of her under full sail heading into the creek where she will stay for the winter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting out on the road

Harold and the gang from Boothbay Harbor Shipyard visit Direcktor Shipyard

Harold has been keeping busy this week and last with trips to New Bedford, Mattapoisett, Bridgeport, CT, Boothbay Harbor, Maine and around this area.
Harold most recently went with the men from Boothbay Harbor shipyard on a day long excursion to Direcktor Shipyard - one of the region's largest shipyards - to look at a large Turkish-built vessel.  Harold has a great rapport with all of these guys who have a great deal of expertise among them.

While cutting the wood for the new schooner, a lot more people have been coming by the yard. The other day we had a lot of the smaller boats coming out of the river and our neighbor Simon Koch was hauling his boat. Simon is now en route to Bermuda on the schooner Roseway and while putting the boat away for the winter before his trip, he had some friends helping him haul the boat. One of his friends used to work for Gammon and Benjamin on Vineyard Haven a few years ago and another one worked around boats as well. They said it felt like being back at the Vineyard boatyard and the atmosphere here was great. On a fall day with the boats coming out of the water and the Pinky Maine coming up river for its last sail - it was a great day. The last sail of the season was a charter and the family on board were also Burnhams' - but grew up in the midwest. It was fun to show them around and they had a great sail up the Essex River from Gloucester along the Annisquam River as well - with peak foliage all the way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The "Flying Jib" Comes to the Yard and more...

The "Flying Jib" sailing in the Gloucester Schooner Festival this past Labor Day and a custom-built yawl heads into the barn for some work.

Mid-October and the skies are getting a little grey but Harold's spirits are high as two boats are now in the yard with work to be done on them this winter. Sarah Beck arrived today with her Friendship Sloop "Flying Jib" and last week, a beautiful, custom built yawl came into the yard and is now inside the barn. Both vessels are a welcome addtion and Harold has been moving about the yard from place to place at his usual lighting speed. Additionally, Harold has been cutting deck beams and trunnels in preparation for the new schooner and he is very busy on the sawmill cutting wood to dry...and using the remainders for firewood as it is getting cold and the woodstove is going constantly. There are three or four small boats in the river basin that need to be hauled for the winter so it seems official..the sailing season is just about done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Harold is off on a five day October sail

"Sailing alone around the room..."
The author of this post is covering a sailing event in beautiful Bermuda, but I believe that Harold Burnham left this a.m. for his annual sail with a group of men aboard the Pinky Maine. Just prior to leaving he had a really busy day getting the boat he will be working on this winter into the barn. Although the author was not home while he was managing this task, it was no doubt done with a lot of sweat and muscle with the help of friend John Drake and most likely Harold's father, Charles.  Today, he is out of the Essex River and on his way to Martha's Vineyard with friends Davis Griffith, Michael March, cousins Tom and Steven Hastings, Pierre Erhard, and Jim Aaron.  No doubt they will have a mug up and a lot to gab about. Oh, I forgot that men don't gab..or do they?  Well, many of the men on this sailing trip do have something in common. Wood.  Jim is a sawyer from Western Mass, Pierre is an aborist and tree warden from Wenham, MA, Davis is an artist who works with wood , Tom and Steven are involved in forestry and Michael sails a wooden boat.  If they have something to talk about that they all enjoy talking about it will be wood and any variation on that theme.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Drawing the Lines to the New Schooner

Harold is finishing up the design for the new schooner he plans to begin building sometime within the next 12 months. In the photos shown here, he is working on the final line drawing . The photos show him lining up one of the sheer lines with Ducks given to him by the late William Duggan.
Harold completed the final drawing after building three half models and making three initial drawings. Our existing Pinky Maine built in Bath, Maine by the Apprentice Shop was the starting point for the new boat. Howard Chapelle had traced her lines from a half model he found in East Boothbay. For the new schooner, Harold started out with Chapelles' lines and made a model of the existing Maine first. After he made changes and did a second model, he developed construction arrangements and a sail plan. Additionally, he incorporated the changes he wanted to make by designing the new Maine to look more like the original vessel built in 1845 by Ebenezer Burnham. He drew the lines to that model and made a few more changes and drew another set of lines and then carved one more model and came up with the final line drawing on the Mylar.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Schooner Ernestina - what a ship!

It's hard to believe how much time has gone by since early May when the summer was ahead of us instead of behind us. But, May was a big month for Harold and the schooner Ernestina which was brought from Boothbay Harbor Maine to New Bedford after nearly a year long restoration of the front end of the schooner. The delivery from Maine to Massachusetts was made by employees of the Boothbay Harbor shipyard and Harold Burnham, who had been hired under contract by the State of Massachusetts to oversee the restoration of the schooner and had spent nearly one year on the project living part of the week in Boothbay Harbor. Paul Brawley of the Department of Conservation and Recreation was Harold's boss and Harold served as the owner's representative overseeing the restoration of the bow end of Ernestina. Harold based himself in Boothbay for one year, coming home for part of the week but spending most of it sleeping right aboard the Ernestina in the captain's quarters as the work went on. It was an amazing year for Harold and for all involved in the project. The restoration work on the first part of the boat was absolutely first rate. Harold was part of something really, really fantastic and he has said it more than once "it was the best job I have ever had" in part because he could be on site during an historic restoration, all his skills were called upon and he became an essential part of the success of the restoration.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Harold behind the 6 string guitar

For those of you who have met Harold, well this photo just sums up his spirit!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Provincetown to Gloucester Connection

The Gloucester Times had a great article in its newspaper yesterday about the Gloucester to Provincetown race we participated in just after Labor Day weekend. What the article describes is that long standing connection shared between Gloucester and Provincetown as havens for fishermen on Massachusetts Bay and beyond and the schooner races they once had with one another when Provincetown, too, was full of schooners. What is great about arriving to Provincetown by boat is that well before you reach land, you see the Pilgrim's Monument on the horizon. The monument was completed in 1910 and commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims’ first landing in the New World in Provincetown, in November 1620. The monument looms 252-feet above Provincetown. It is a landmark for sailors and a reminder of the town's immense historical significance.

This article in the Gloucester Times has a few quotes from Harold thrown in for good measure. Here is the link: Also, don't miss Harold's free lecture tomorrow night hosted by the schooner FAME and Salem Maritime National Historic Site entitled “Restoring the Schooner ERNESTINA,” 7 p.m., Sept. 16, at St. Joseph Hall, 160 Derby St., Salem.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Schooner Built in Fast Forward

So far in this blog we have not really gotten into the details of schooner building and the many aspects of it. We hope to remedy this as Harold begins building his new Pinky Maine which is currently in the design phase on his desk upstairs. Today's blog just offers a chance to see a wonderful glimpse of the schooner Isabella which was built here in 2006. This short film was made by Stephen Hastings, Harold's cousin and is well worth a look and was no easy feat for Stephen putting this together as he had a camera taking photographs every 20 minutes or so for about 8 monts. What he pieced together from photographs is amazing. Do notice the rising tide and snow on top of the miniature captain's head. This video is fantastic!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Schooner Races Back to Back

The past few days the Pinky Maine has done quite a lot of racing with the 25th annual schooner festival on Sunday and a Tuesday race from Gloucester to Provincetown. The Sunday schooner race was very exciting with some challenging conditions - a lot of wind and some tough tacking but we did well and placed somewhere in the middle of the fleet. On Tuesday, we entered the Fishermen's Race to Provincetown which is an event organized by a great group of folks from Provincetown who are encouraging more schooners to enter the race each year. With very little breeze the race was a challenge but the Pinky Maine ended up in third place in Class B. Not too shabby!

We also received some great footage from John Browne Videographer who shot the film from the deck of the Alabama. They include some nice footage of the Pinky Maine in the Gloucester race. Here is the link
John BrowneVideographer / ProducerPerkins slip renter.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

25th Annual Schooner Festival in Gloucester

This weekend marks the 25th annual schooner festival in Gloucester, an event that was in part initiated by a dear friend Scott Stuart Eddington who sadly passed away this year. Scott helped get a lot of things going in Gloucester - he was an idea man and instigated things like whale watching, schooner festivals, and many other community-minded events - as well as being a great photographer.
I met him while making a circumnavigation with him in 1991. It was an early trip as mate on a steamship and he was the AB on my watch. During our time at sea we schemed about what we might do back in Gloucester when we got home.
It was with his encouragement that we built the Muscongus Bay sloop "Kim" as a charter boat and started our charter business in 1992. He was with us through a lot of activities we have done since. We miss him.
Last night they had the Mayor's Reception and the mayor of Gloucester and Sen. Bruce Tarr talked about the proud fishing heritage of Gloucester but also took time to congratulate the Gloucester high school sailing team. Who knew! It was great to see the team and they wished them a good season. The harbor looked spectatucular as we were able to stand on the deck of one of the large visiting schooners at one point and watch the full moon come up as dusk settled in...the mast lights of the Bluenose II and other schooners lit the harbor and it was great to see so many tall masts around Gloucester - which is sometimes too quiet for my taste. To see the activity of schooners arriving, and the crews spreading out throughout Gloucester, greeting each other and looking forward to two days of racing was great. We will give you a wrap up story of the schooner festival after the weekend. For now, enjoy the three-day holiday weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sailing on the Pinky Maine

It is nearly Labor Day weekend and we have had a full summer of sailing on the Pinky Maine. The Pinky Maine is available for charter and we have had some great charter experiences this summer. We had our first overnight charter for a lovely couple from the Berkshires, we have taken large families for six hour sails to Manchester and back and this coming weekend we are taking a crew of experienced mariners out to particpate in the 25th annual Gloucester Schooner Festival. The Pinky Maine was also our summer home for us as we cruised in Maine for nearly three weeks in July. We reached great places like Valley Cove near Southwest Harbor, Dix Island, Port Clyde, Jewell Island to name a few. A highpoint was the four days we spent with Charles and Maria Burnham aboard their Friendship Sloop "Resolute." We raced in Rockland Harbor during the Friendship Sloop Days while also taking friends out for a sail on the Pinky Maine.

Anyway, this is the time to join us on the Pinky Maine. We think fall sailing is among the best as the breezes are freshest and when it is cool there is nothing like a mug of hot mulled cider off our wood stove to spice things up!

Boatbuilding with Burnham

This blog was launched on Sept. 1 which always symbolizes new beginnings So as we wind down the charter business for summer and begin working on boat building projects for fall., it seemed like a perfect chance to reach out to more people and connect with new and old friends. There is a lot in the air for me as we are hoping to build a brand new schooner in the spring of 2010 which I plan to detail on this blog in full. For now, we are lining up projects and wrapping up others. In May, Harold completed a year long contract assignment on the schooner Ernestina. That is a story we would like to talk about more fully and Harold is scheduled to speak this month in Salem at St. Joseph's Hall.