The Shallop

This picture was taken from the main yard about fifty feet off the water.

We stepped the mast in the shallop today. The shallop has been in the water for a few weeks but we have just found some time to set up the mast and rigging. The shallop is celebrating its own fiftieth birthday this year. With all the hubbub going on with Mayflower II we don’t want to forget her intrepid little sister Pilgrim shallop.

William Baker designed the shallop at the same time he was working on the plans for Mayflower II. It represents the workboat, stowed in pieces below deck of the original Mayflower. Baker found many images in period paintings, woodcuts and archeological evidence for the shallop. They were the pick-up truck of the 17th century used to, carry goods, people, fish out of, or for any other near-shore activity one might want to engage in.

The shallop was built at the Plymouth Marine Railway, here in Plymouth, Massachusetts. George Davis oversaw the construction led by two builders from Maine. The builders wasted little time. They started the boat on January 19th and launched the boat on March 17th, 1957. The rowers for the first crew at the launch I am told are part of the Harvard crew team. The shallop was christened by then governor Foster Furcolo’s wife.

When Mayflower II sailed into the harbor in 1957 the shallop rowed out and brought the English crewmen ashore. The crew was made up of local residents, some were descendants of the original Mayflower passengers. Richard Nixon, then vice president to Dwight Eisenhower, rode out to inspect the newly arrived ship in our shallop.

The shallop spends much of its time moored next to Mayflower II. The absolute number one question asked by visitors when they look down into the shallop is: "What are those paddles on the side of the boat for?"

"Well, I’m glad you asked," comes the reply through clenched teeth. "Those paddles are called lee boards. They hang over the side and when the boat is sailing the lee, or low side board will hang down vertically, preventing the shallop from sliding sideways in the wind."

"Oh, they look like the soles of big shoes."

And so it goes.

We have sailed the shallop all over the Massachusetts coast, out to Provincetown and south to Bristol, Rhode Island. It is an extremely seaworthy vessel, safe in a great deal of wind, and fun to swim off of as well.

This summer the shallop will take part in the anniversary sail in July. The shallop has withstood much in these last fifty years, has been the subject of countless photos and has the good health and careful upkeep to go on for another fifty years.

I added this picture of horses dragging timber out of the woods that is ultimately going towards building the shallop because it’s kind of an interesting photo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *