Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Work Is Progressing on the Ardelle

Bow is coming together

Putting the pieces together

Harold, Jeff and Zach working on frame number six.

This frame is nearly ready to go

Photographer Dan Tobyne has been continuing with his excellent work while things come together on the stem and with the next plank. Besides Dan's great photographs, we also have on our website's front page the ability to update photos of the progress of the Ardelle. Steve Hastings, Harold's cousin, and Sue Hastings have been working hard on perfecting three cameras around the yard that take photographs every 15 minutes or so. Anytime you log on to Burnham Boatbuilding you can catch the latest shot.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Log Splitting for the Stem

Harold is about to crack open the soon to be stem for the Ardelle

Harold and Chuck made light work of this piece of oak

Beautifully cut...the oak did crackle once it was split

As Harold was leaning over the oak, the log was crackling back...the "tension in the wood" was letting go as it goes on to its next incarnation as the stem of the new schooner.

 Harold now has the stem for the Ardelle cut and work will begin to cut into shape. This was the second piece Harold cut as the first one he cut on the mill ended up having a defect. So, we had to find another one and this one looks good. The stem - like the stern post - is half submersed where the top is exposed to the air and sun and the bottom is in the water. For that reason, he tries to put the aboslute best wood he can find into these two pieces. A log this size is just too big for the mill and has to be split with a chainsaw and wedges and a sledgehammer. Our friends at Maynard Brothers in Michigan told us once when they get a log that is too big for the mill they use "black powder" where they drill a hole in the center of the log with a chainsaw curf on each end and a long fuse. This idea has greatly intrigued us especially halfway through the log...but we never dared try it for fear we would damage the wood or more likely ourselves in the process.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

... A Boatbuilder is a Sculptor

We found tucked away a newspaper clipping from 1971 written by Joe Garland, a great author and historian who can also turn a newspaper story into a million gems of language strung together. The clipping we found is his lively review of a recently published book at the time called the "Building of a Wooden Ship" published by Dana Story with the photos of John M. Clayton who was a retired advertising man who so admired the shipbuilding in Essex that he photographed the craftsmen and their products for 30 years. Anyway, the collaboration resulted in a book - and in his review Joe offers some insight which still rings true today. He writes in 1971 "Imagine being handed a half-model or a table of offsets and converting it with nothing but what you have upstairs, your bare fists, and a few tools into a 120-foot thing of life, true to the last quarter inch! Not to run down house carpentering or cabinetwork, which I've had a crack at too. But framing a house and framing a vessel - well, there's no compare. A boat's all bends and scarphs, futtocks, knees, hollows, twists and queer places, while a building's plumb, level or proper angled - up and down, straight across or at a predictable slant. The difference is movement. The hull of a boat is meant to slide through the water with the least of commotion while a house is supposed to stay put. A boat builder is a sculptor. He doesn't think in planes, in walls and floors; he works in the third dimention; he molds wood to water, and makes the rest fit."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

... A Boatbuilder is ...

Cutting the molds

The loft floor is always interesting!

A model of the Ardelle

Dan Tobyne has been photographing the yard and the interior of the barn and the loft floor. There is always something to shoot and here are some of his recent pictures.
Tracing the curves of the frame from mold to four inch oak

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stern Post Is Up and A Job Well Done

The tenon joint - part of the mortise and tenon joint - that fits the stern post to the keel

The tenon joint of the stern post fit perfectly into this  mortise. Nice job, Chuck!

The stern post is being moved into place using the sheer legs.

The mortise and tenon joint fits nicely.

It looks pretty cool!

With the stern post now in place, we wanted to take a moment to give a shout out to Chuck Redman.
... Just as we were finishing the lofting process back in July, Chuck called the boatyard to ask about a day charter on the Pinky Maine. But, he said, what he really wanted to do was talk to Harold. "You're talking to him," Harold said. As it turned out, Chuck had applied to boatbuilding school in Maine and had to let the school know by the end of the week if he was going to attend. He came by on his Harley motorcycle on a Sunday and talked to Harold. After that serendipitous visit, he called the school and said no thanks.

Chucks first job as apprentice here at the yard was to check our lofting, create a table of offsets, do a small scale drawing and make a half model of the Ardelle ... all of which he completed in his first two and a half weeks here. From there, he has gone on to making all the molds and putting the bevels on them. He has also helped build all of the frames and yesterday, using our sheer legs, we hoisted the massive stern post that he built and his mortise and tenon joint fit perfectly. Chuck comes from a lifetime in business, operating an international family-owned company, so we appreciate his incredible work ethic and abilities. His family and friends are great, too!

Chuck, Harold and Simon Koch use the sheer legs to move the stern post into place.

Great work, Chuck!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Ongoing Tradition of the Photographer and the Boatyard

Dan Tobyne taking a photo of Chuck Redman working on the stern.
Dan is picured here assisting Harold at the bandsaw.
One of Dan's many excellent photos taken this past month
Throughout the years, the boatyards of Essex drew photographers to the yards where they became both part of the crew and in turn documented the work of building a wooden schooner. In the 1930s, the late John Clayton took pictures of the ongoing work at the Jake Story yard. In the 1990s, Lou Joceyln chronicled the building of Tom Ellis' schooner the Thomas E. Lannon. Lou was originally from Nova Scotia and had lots of stories to tell and kept the crew entertained. Last heard, Lou was traveling around the country in his RV with his lady friend. We miss him! The Fame was chronicled by cartoonist Michael Scagliotti, who is now an instructor at the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco and captured through timed photography and turned into a film by cousin Steven Hastings.  Meanwhile, the Isabella was photographed in part by Chrissy Piper and Randy Robar with a film by Steve Hastings and so ... in keeping with that tradition we welcome Dan Tobyne of Hamilton.  Dan is a professional photographer and native New Englander who has been involved in photography for more than 40 years. Early in his career as a teacher of at-risk youth, he helped develop a wilderness education program that used photography as a behavior-modification tool.  His work is on display in public and private collections throughout New England and is featured in the books Boston's Emerald Necklace, Thoreau's Cape Cod and Thoreau's Maine Woods. He has been down here at the boatyard quite a lot since early August. His photographs are remarkable and we really appreciate his company!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Essex-Built Schooner Ernestina Needs Your Voice

The Essex-built schooner Ernestina - a forum about her future

We had a request from the good people of New Bedford and the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association to let people know about an important forum to discuss the future of our national historic landmark the Ernestina. As some of you know, in 2008/09 Harold was involved in a massive re-build of the Ernestina's front section but the stern is still in need of a lot of repair as well as the cost of ongoing operations. The forum - to be held on Saturday, October 30 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum offers a great chance to get momentum going and also take a moment to have some input on the future of Ernestina. Here is some of the pertinent info.

Ernestina Forum

The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association is holding a forum to discuss Ernestina's future and seeks:
· People from a broad array of constituencies interested in working together in the interest of the Ernestina's future;
· New ideas to help keep the ship sailing;
· Inspired individuals ready to describe how their ideas can be organized into plans to sustain the ship's restoration and operation.

Saturday, October 30th
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
New Bedford Whaling Museum
Pre-registration is required and space is limited.
Barbara (Monteiro) Burgo
Kristen Sarkarati


The Schooner Ernestina Commission
The MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc
P.O. Box 2995
New Bedford, MA 02741

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Two More Frames Go Up!

Harold realized he lost his oars.... but back to the boatyard

Five frames up now!

Harold getting ready to raise a frame (don't mind the scary clown)
Chuck Redman raises a fourth frame
This past weekend Harold raised two more frames with the crew during Salty Dog Day which keeps the momentum going but and the boat is starting to shape up.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Salty Dog Day at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum

Tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. our neighbors the Essex Shipbuilding Museum are hosting the second annual Salty Dog Day. It so happens that we will also be hoisting a few more frames for the Ardelle around 3 p.m. so if you have a dog and you live anywhere near here...come on over. You may also end up encountering our own salty dog Daisy. Here are the details.
Pack the family up, including your canine friends, and join the Essex Shipbuilding Museum for Salty Dog Day. The day will be filled with things to do for adults, children, and dogs all in celebration of the long history between the maritime trades and dogs. The day will kick off with the Newfoundland Club of New ...England demonstrating a water rescue, and will then move on to the Salty Dog Costume Parade. Dress your dog up in its best nautical costume and join the fun. The rest of the day will be filled with lots to do: take a tour of the shipyard from a dog’s eye view; have your face painted; learn what your dog is really saying; make a button with a picture of your dog; see if your dog is sea worthy; and after watching an agility demonstration, see how well your dog can do. There will be live music by Janice Fullman and Will Hunt, food from the Salty Dog Galley, and much more. Admission: $3/person (well-behaved, leashed salty dogs – free). Visit our website: for additional details.

Daisy and her favorite friend in the boatyard, Charles Burnham

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stern Post is Nearly Complete

Chuck Redman cut out the stern post here. Harold is pitctured below finishing it up. The propellor apperture is cut, the rabbit line is scored on the side and he cut a tenon on the bottom of it which will fit into a mortice on the keel.
Harold is pictured here boring some holes into the top of the stern post which will sit level when its erected The holes are going to be filled with linseed oil and turpentine which will be re-filled regularly and will soak down through the post...preserving it for many years we hope!

The stern post is nearly complete and the hood ends of all the planks will attach there. According to our friend the late Dana Story in his book the Building of a Wooden Ship "the skeleton of a ship is composed of many parts. While some of the gang are assembling frames, others are getting out the timbers which form the end of the vessel.." In our case, the gang is made of volunteers and an apprentice and they are doing everything at once, including milling the timber.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What is a Pinky Schooner Exactly?

The Pinky Schooner FAME of Salem built by Harold Burnham

The Pinky Schooner MAINE - a replica built by the Maine Maritime Museum volunteers under Lance Lee  in the 1980s.

Our friend Frank Hertel said his colleagues at work were asking what a pinky is so we have a brief description here by way of explanation. Pinky schooners were a common type of New England  fishing vessel that sailed out of local Cape Ann harbors from the early eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. In 1839, there were 64 registered pinky schooners out of the Cape Ann and its district. Pinkies were generally smaller vessels from which men fished over the side but they were also known for their seaworthiness. These vessels were so distinctive in their look and common that a careful study of many marine paintings from the era will have a pinky or two in the background. Many of the paintings of the internationally renowned artist Fitz Henry Lane, including those in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. usually have pinkies in the background of the painting. "Pinky" means that the stern is "pinked" or pinched together which indicates a pointed stern and may originally be a Dutch word.

It is believed that the pinkies developed from Chebacco boats. A good many of them were built at Essex. These vessels were built to a very high standard and some lasted a very long time. The original MAINE was built in 1845 and sailed until 1926. The ARDELLE is a typical full-rigged clipper Pinky and her design is largely based on the original MAINE – a replica of which is pictured here - although the Ardelle will actually be larger and have more of a clipper feel.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Essex Massachusetts's Next Schooner's Frame Up

Thanks to Steve Borichevsky of Cape Ann for this great video. Check out his blog Shooting my Universe.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Keel Laying Ceremony is Part of the Celebration of a New Boat

Keel laying Ceremony is part of the Frame Up day.
The keel laying ceremony is a cherished ritual and on Frame Up day everyone who came by had a chance to sign the keel. The signatures and messages included hopes for the boat and a chance to remember those who are no longer with us. The keel laying ceremony has evolved over time but everyone loves a chance to connect to the vessel - especially the kids who say it best. "Just don't sink."

The keel signing ceremony is great!
More keel signing...
Our shirts say Build Locally, Sail Globally!
Pierre Erhard is hammering in the trunnel as the frame is built inside the barn

Monday, September 6, 2010


Shout is heard for FRAME UP!
First Frame Going up...

Frame is VERY heavy!

It was a great day in Essex and at the Burnham yard yesterday during the FRAME UP event . Many volunteers help to raise three frames with only about 22 frames more to go! But, the outpouring of interest and support was inspiring and many visitors had a chance to sign the keel and get up close and personal as they gathered in the barn to watch the men drive trunnels into the futtocks and haul the frame out to the resting keel. There are many people to thank but to name a few we would like to thank Chuck Redman,  his gal Patty, Andy Spinney, Pierre Erhard, Davis Griffith, Steve Willard, young Zack Teal and his cousin, Jeff Lane, Francis Cleary, Bill Cronin , Steven and Tom Hastings and the folks at Essex shipbuilding Museum and many others!. Great work everyone!

A view from the dock to the barn of the first frame
The crowd was great and three frames went up!