Pinky Schooner Progress at Historic Essex Yard

We’ll admit it: We’re suckers for a good boat project. And one of the most interesting builds going on in New England at the moment is in Essex, where shipwright Harold Burnham is hard at work on a pinky schooner, Ardelle. Burnham, who has built several traditional wooden ships over the years, is constructing this 55’ pinky in exactly the same manner that similar ships were built here more than a century ago. Named for their distinctive “pinked” sterns, pinky schooners were once the workhorses of the coastal fisheries, well-known for their ability to speedily follow schools of mackerel to windward while being easily sailed by a small crew.

Burnham is the real deal — he’s actually the eleventh generation of his family to build wooden ships in Essex — and watching his project take shape is like being transported to the grand age of sail, when dozens of such builds would have been underway simultaneously in yards in Essex, Gloucester, and Salem. But modern times do have their benefits, and Burnham has been meticulous in recording his progress (along with superb, professional photographs by Dan Tobyne) on his blog. But you better check out his blog soon — as of early March, Burnham is already halfway through the planking and is on track for a late spring/early summer launch. Though the boatbuilding part of the story will end there, the chance to check out this bit of floating history won’t, as Burnham plans to take up to 49 people sailing on Ardelle each day during the summer months.

Now that’s an experience you actually couldn’t have had back in the nineteenth century!

Read more about the Ardelle’s construction at Harold Burnham’s blog, available by clicking here.

Read more about the Schooner Ardelle by clicking here.

Read more about Harold Burnham’s other projects by visiting his website, available by clicking here.