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American Schooner Assn. Award to Shipwright Harold Burnham

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American Schooner Assn. Award to Shipwright Harold Burnham,
New Slate of Officers Seated at Annual Meeting

Mystic, CT, February 7 -- The annual meeting of the American Schooner Association (ASA) was highlighted by the organization’s presentation of its prestigious Award to shipwright and boatbuilder Harold Burnham of Essex, MA. Burnham was also the guest speaker at the meeting, which took place at Mystic Seaport Museum the first weekend in February.

The award is presented periodically to an individual or organization that has contributed to the preservation of schooners and their history. It was presented at Mystic by outgoing commodore John Eginton, owner and skipper of Mystic Whaler. Past recipients have included the Mystic Seaport Museum, naval architect George Stadel, Jonathan Wilson, founder of WoodenBoat Magazine, Francis E. “Biff” Bowker, longtime skipper of Mystic Seaport’s schooner Brilliant, and the Northwest Maritime Center and Wooden Boat Foundation in Port Townsend, WA.

A new slate of officers for the next two years was elected at the meeting. They include Al Roper of Norfolk, VA, commodore; Sam Hoyt of New York City, vice commodore; Bill Carton of Middletown, NJ, rear commodore; Pat Brabazon of Baltimore, MD, secretary; and Joanne Souza of Essex, MA, treasurer.

Harold Burnham is the 28th Burnham to operate a shipyard in Essex since 1819. Essex is the birthplace of some 4,000 schooners in the town where shipbuilding has long been a tradition. He had begun building boats at an early age and by age 10 was building dories and rowboats with his brother and sister.

After five years at sea in the merchant marine, Burnham opened his boatyard in 1995 on land his ancestors had used for that purpose until World War II. It is now the only full time shipyard in Essex. He has built the wooden schooners Thomas E. Lannon, which sails out of Gloucester, Lewis H. Story, Fame of Salem and Isabella. Additionally, he has worked as a shipwright on the schooners Ernestina and Adventure among others.

Burnham’s talk at the meeting recounted his work as supervisor of the rebuilding of Ernestina, ex Effie M. Morrissey, at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in Maine. Ernestina was gifted to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the government of Cape Verde. The vessel has had four distinct careers: as a fishing schooner, arctic explorer, Cape Verde packet schooner and, at present, a sail training vessel sailing out of New Bedford, MA.

While much of the restoration was completed at Boothbay Harbor, more work on the stern section of the schooner remains to be completed and funds are being sought to that purpose.

Founded in 1972, the American Schooner Association is an organization with members across the country and in several foreign countries. It supports and recognizes organizations that sponsor events for traditional vessels and publishes a newsletter, Wing & Wing. Its calendar of events for this year includes more than 30 such events. More information is available on its website

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American Schooner Association, PO Box 484, Mystic, CT 06355

For Immediate Release Contact: Sam Hoyt
(212) 691-7564