Gundalow Company Revives Piscataqua Boatbuilding
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Written by Carol Walker Aten


Under a custom-made wooden cover, the new gundalow takes shape at the temporary shipyard on Puddle Dock at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A dedicated team of boat builders and skilled craftsmen, supported by many volunteers, are constrtucting the new gundalow that is scheduled to start public sails in Spring 2012. The shipyard is on view seven days a week 10am-5pm with admission to Strawbery Banke. “Boatbuilder Chats,” an insider’s tour of the new gundalow, are held the last Wednesday of each month at 5pm at the shipyard. (Continued below)


For the last decade, the non-profit Gundalow Company has used the Captain Edward H. Adams – a replica modeled after the last gundalow to carry cargo on Great Bay to provide “dockside” programs to more than 100,000 visitors.  The Adams is too authentic to comply with modern U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements, and cannot operate as a sailing classroom. This new 64’ gundalow has safety features and structural integrity required by the US Coast Guard for passenger-carrying vessels.

York, Maine boat-builder Paul Rollins is the Master Shipwright for the new gundalow. A protégé of Bud McIntosh, he started boatbuilding in 1974 by constructing a boat for himself.  Paul has over 35 years of experience designing, building and rebuilding vessels ranging from small craft to 100-tons. His most recent launch was a 56’ schooner Magnolia. The 88' schooner Lois McLure is a full-scale replica of an 1862-class sailing canal boat Rollins built for Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

New gundalow crew by Ralph Morang

Boatbuilder Nate Greeley, of York, Maine attended the two year apprentice program at the Apprenticeshop in mid-coast Maine in 1988, one of the oldest traditional boat building schools in the country. Since completing the program, he has worked as an independent boat builder in the seacoast region of southern Maine and New Hampshire. Aside from sailing, Nate also surfs and skis and has made handcrafted wooden skis.

Joe Taylor, boat-builder from Berwick, ME initially began his career working with wood as a forester and firefighter in Montana. After moving to the northeast he attended the two year apprentice program at the Apprenticeshop and in 2007 began working with Paul Rollins. He enjoys planking boats the best, and learned to sail after building boats first.

New Hampshire native Nate Piper has many years of experience building and restoring wooden ships. As Project Manager, Nate manages the new gundalow boat building team, and oversees the volunteer crew. He has helped restore or build Isabella, HMS Bounty, Martha Lewis, Beaver, Eleanor and theKalmar Nyckel. Nate has been the Gundalow Company’s Vessel Manager for four years, moving theCaptain Edward H. Adams, managing maintenance, and training volunteers.

New gundalow under construction at Strawbery Banke in 2011 by Ralph Morang

Wells, Maine resident Cliff Punchard is a retired chemical engineering technician who enjoys carpentry, model making, wine making and sailing. A former competitive rower, Cliff worked on the 32’ Scilly Isles Gig, a traditional wooden working boat, when it was part of the Seavey Island Rowing Club.

Dennis Glidden, of York, ME is retired from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is the shipyard machinist. Dennis restored a 28’ vintage Starling Burgess racing sloop. He has manufactured hundreds of trunnels, and custom threaded bronze fasteners along with Cliff.

Peter Happny, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been running a blacksmith business for forty years.  All the metal work (forged steel) including lifeline stanchions, steering gear, tabernacle and capstan, sheethorse and traveler, mast bands and leeboard and rudder bands, skeg and giant oarlocks on the new gundalow will be handwrought by Peter.

For centuries, gundalows connected up-river seacoast communities with Portsmouth, the   region’s seaport and primary market town.  Harnessing the wind and riding the tide, gundalows moved bricks, hay, firewood, and goods crucial to the economy and everyday life. The Gundalow Company takes its inspiration from the vital role of those historic gundalows, vessels unique to the Piscataqua Maritime Region.  This new gundalow will be the flagship for the next generation of maritime stewards, a catalyst for caring about the rivers and bays of the Piscataqua Maritime Region on New Hampshire and Maine. For more information call 603-433-9505 or

Photos by Ralph Morang Photography