Celebrating the Schooner
“Oh, see how she scoons,” remarked an onlooker, watching as a new vessel was launched in Smith Cove in East Gloucester.” …
“Then a schooner let her be,” replied the designer and builder, Capt. Andres Robinson, as he broke a bottle of rum on her bow and watched her slide into the water. The year was 1713. So began the story of these fine sailing vessels; fishing schooners that soon became the envy of sailors around the world. Before long, most of the Gloucester and Essex shipbuilding was confined to schooners. At one time there were upwards of 17 shipyards along a small stretch of the Essex River. All were busy building schooners for the Gloucester fishing fleet. Over 4000 schooners are said to have been built in neighboring Essex. A visit to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum gives visitors a true understanding of the significance of these vessels. Gloucester’s Cape Ann Museum also features an extensive maritime exhibit and is well worth a visit. Look out in Gloucester harbor today and you might see two of these beautiful vessels at work. The Schooner Thomas E. Lannon, built in Essex in 1997, sails from Seven Seas Wharf at the Gloucester House Restaurant in downtown Gloucester. The newest addition to the schooner fleet is the Schooner Ardelle, built and launched in Essex in 2011. Both of these beauties were built by 11th generation Essex shipbuilder Harold A. Burnham. Ardelle sails from Maritime Gloucester on Harbor Loop. And a recent addition to the Main Pier at Maritime Gloucester is the Schooner Adventure, a National Historic Landmark built in 1926. Adventure has a long history as a Gloucester highliner and is one of only a few remaining of the original Essex-built schooners. Her dedicated crew of volunteers is working to complete her renovations.
Other vessels offering tours on the water
In Gloucester harbor, you have your pick of a harbor tour or a quick ride across the harbor on the water shuttle. You can also circumnavigate the island and see all six lighthouses on the King Eider. The newest vessel to offer harbor tours and dinner tours is the Beauport Princess, Gloucester’s largest vessel, with a capacity of 300 passengers. And if getting close to nature is on your agenda, head over to Essex, where you can cruise downriver on the Essex River Queen.
The pristine sheltered waters of this tidal estuary are teeming with birds and scenic views. Whatever floats your boat, yup, we’ve got that!