Blog : Fall Programs are in Full Swing at the Gundalow Company

By Katelyn | Oct 5, 2015 | in

With autumn well underway, tourists have packed up their beach chairs, vacated summer cottages, and headed home. As the heat of the summer slips into memory, there are still plenty of warm days left for locals to get outside and enjoy fall in New Hampshire.

One of the more popular ways to take in fall’s changing scenery is sailing along the Piscataqua River aboard a replica historic gundalow vessel, unique to the Seacoast region. The Gundalow Company, which operates regular educational and public sails, is open through the last week of October.

Established in 2002, the Gundalow Company provides a fun and educational experience for thousands of school children and adults. Today the Gundalow Company continues to carry out their mission - to protect the Piscataqua Region’s maritime heritage and environment through education and action on their newest gundalow replica, the Piscataqua.

“We built this boat for the community and want it to be thought of as a resource for local kids and families,” said Molly Bolster, Gundalow Company Executive Director.

From the early 1700s to 1900, gundalows were a common sight on the Piscataqua River and a staple of the seacoast’s economy. Gundalows evolved in style and function, adding sails, decks and cabins, and served as the primary mode of transportation for local commerce delivering raw materials up river to cotton factories and brickyards. In 2011, the Gundalow Company built the Piscataqua at Strawbery Banke, following in the footsteps of the Capt. Edward H. Adamsreplica built and launched in 1982.

The Piscataqua sails from May to October and serves as a floating classroom, teaching guests the history of the region and the environmental issues faced today.The stewardship and health of the region’s waterways has long been a focus of the Gundalow Company and something they hope to pass on to anyone sails with them.

"We aren't the first to impact the river environment," said Barbara Pinto Maurer, Education Director at the Gundalow Company. "For decades, saw mills dumped their sawdust into the water and sewage was put right into the rivers. The estuary has undergone renewal time and again. It's important to recognize the environmental damage we have done and to understand how we can lessen our impact."

In line with their environmental initiatives, the Gundalow Company is also a Business Partner with the Green Alliance, a local union of like-minded environmentally friendly businesses, non-profits, and individuals.

Now in its fourth season, the nonprofit Gundalow Company runs public sails, private charters, and school sails. In October, the Gundalow Company continues to offer weekday evening sails, perfect for guests to unwind after a long workday, as well as morning, afternoon, and evening sails on the weekends. Additionally, Discovery Sails, trips with a unique educational focus, and Up-River Sails, three hour trips past Newington, Kittery, and Eliot, run periodically until the end of the season.

Up to 100 school sails - offered in the spring and fall - present a unique opportunity for students to learn about the history of the Piscataqua River region, including the Lamprey, Cocheco, Salmon Falls, Bellamy, Oyster, Winnicutt and Squamscott rivers. At the same time, the sails boast an environmental component as the Gundalow Company strives to educate guests on the protection of the region’s waterways.

Staff are ready to work with individual schools and teachers to customize a trip to best suit different grade levels, engaging students with hands-on science activities and covering topics like the power of the river currents, and a look at plankton in action.

“The vast majority of kids that do the program have never been on a boat or on the rivers of the Piscataqua region, so they don’t know what’s in their very own backyard. It can be a really eye-opening experience,” said Bolster. “The feedback we get from students and teachers validates our mission to get as many kids on the boat and out on the water as possible, so they can learn to care about and protect the Piscataqua Maritime Region.”

There are still spaces for school groups to arrange student sails with the Gundalow Company during the month of October, as well as numerous options for public sails for individuals and families.

Click here for more information on the Gundalow Company and a full calendar of sails.