An Open Letter from Harold Burnham and Mary Kay Taylor
12 October 2018
The purchase and arrival of the Sylvina W. Beal
Mary Kay and I understand there have been a lot of rumors and lies flying around the Cape Ann waterfront regarding us and a certain fishing schooner up on the Maine coast so we though it might be time to set the record straight.
We are excited to announce that we are now the proud new stewards of the 1911 fishing schooner, the Sylvina W. Beal and that we will be sailing her into her new homeport of Gloucester tommorrow!
The Sylvina W. Beal was built in the Adams Yard in East Boothbay Maine in 1911. This yard later produced Gloucester’s beloved racing fishing schooner Elizabeth Howard,“ the white ghost of the north Atlantic.” The Beal is an auxiliary knockabout fishing schooner almost 80 feet long, a little more than seventeen feet wide and nearly nine feet deep; she carries about 2200 feet of sail and about 100 hogsheads of fish.
Over the years since her construction, the Beal has proved to be a worthy vessel. After several years fishing, she eventually found a niche as a sardine carrier and was used in that trade for approximately sixty years before having her rig restored for use as a windjammer. In that form she has spent the past 38 years sailing from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and as far away as Venezuela.
As it does, age has caught up to the Beal and this summer, as she was floating up in Bar Harbor, ME she was no longer to carry passengers. Understanding the Beal’s historic significance, and knowing of our ability to rehabilitate and make good use of these vessels, the Beal’s current owner nobly agreed to put her in our hands.
We have spent the week bringing her to down to Gloucester and plan to arrive at the Harriet Webster Pier at Martime Gloucester on Saturday, October 13 at 12pm. In the coming weeks we plan haul her on the historic marine railway at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center where she will serve as an exhibit and as part of their educational programing throughout the winter. With her safely on the rails, we will spend the winter removing the Beal’s ballast, engine, spars and whatever else we can from her hull. Concurrently, we will be documenting as much as we can about her history, starting the application for her well deserved place on the national register, and developing a written plan that preserves many of her historic characteristics and takes into account both her necessary rehabilitation and future use as a commercial passenger, sail training, and research Gloucester Fishing Schooner.
When she leaves the rails at the Heritage Center we will bring her around to Essex where we will await the astronomical and meteorological conditions necessary to pull her up into our slip. It is our intent to complete the work on her hull some time after 2021.
As is exemplified by the Heritage Center’s offer for use of the railway, and of our friends, family, and community already pleading to help us with this endeavor, logs are arriving at the mill, and once we get going we plan on involving as many people with this work as we can. It is our hope that, like the other vessels we have built and worked on, the Sylvina W. Bealwill help keep our maritime heritage and culture alive and present on Cape Ann and make us all the richer for it.
Harold and Mary Kay