Burnham Boatyard in 2011


It seems ironic that although I started this charter business in 1992, I have spent most of the past few decades literally building the competition. However, in the winter of 2011, with the help of friends and family, I finally got around to building a new schooner for myself and it sure has been fun.

There is something about seeing some of the many other vessels I have designed, built, or in some way had my hand it while out on the water with friends and paying guests. The sight makes me both eternally grateful for our Cape Ann heritage and proud of the role I played in keeping our maritime traditions alive.

Although Cape Ann’s land and seascapes are beautiful, it is our vessels that have inspired the imagination of artists, photographers, writers and visitors alike. I am sure you will enjoy Ardelle, too! - Harold Burnham

Three Burnham-built schooners: The Thomas Lannon, the Fame of Salem and the Schooner Ardelle

Be sure and read our blog Boatbuilding With Burnham!

Harold during the construction of the schooner Ardelle

Over the last few years the shipbuilding industry in Essex Massachusetts has faced the worst slump since records were kept in 1860, and likely the worst since it started there in the early seventeenth century. In an attempt to keep the tradition alive as well as provide a more sustainable income for his family Harold Burnham of Burnham Boat Building constructed the ARDELLE a 45 ton 49 passenger 58 foot, “pinky” on his own account although he did not spend much on her.

Harold Burnham (in red) with Essex shipwrights on the Ardelle

The ARDELLE’s spars, rigging and systems were for the most part salvaged from another schooner and Harold milled the lion’s share of the timber for the vessel from trees discarded by local arborists, and tree companies. And so not only is the ARDELLE constructed almost entirely from recycled material but Harold was able to pick where many of the pieces of wood were going into the vessel from the log ensuring both the quality of timber used and that nothing would be wasted.

Harold and volunteer shipwright Zack Teal

What is more is that there was no paid labor on the project. Harold simply could not afford it and so like neighbors helping neighbors to raise a barn friends and family from all over volunteered there efforts to keep the shipbuilding tradition alive, help out someone in need, learn a bit and have a good time along the way. From the time the keel was laid on September 6, 2010 through her launching on July 9, 2011 and until she received her certification to carry passengers from the coast guard on September 2, 2011 a crew that averaged from 3 to five persons worked almost uninterruptedly.

Now (during the season May- October) the ARDELLE operates out of Maritime Gloucester daily for public and private sails and also serves as the research and educational vessel for the center. With Capt. Harold Burnham at the helm, the Ardelle is a true local treasure and plays a key role in the cultural tourism industry and joins two other Burnham built boats on the north shore of Massachusetts – the Schooner Thomas E. Lannon and the FAME of Salem.

Harold Building the Schooner Ardelle l2010-2011