News : Experience A Different Side of Portsmouth on A Gundalow Company Sail

Sep 30, 2014

Published on Seacoast Online

By Kyle Bonus

PORTSMOUTH – In an area rich in history, it’s important to have opportunities to take a step back from the present and learn from the past. The Gundalow Company offers school children and the public a chance to use their vessel as a time machine to sail back in time and learn the importance these unique transports had on the region’s maritime industry.

In the 1650s gundalows, a shallow drafted type of cargo barge, were specifically designed for the region. Their unique flat-bottom design allowed for the vessel to rest on the muddy river-bottom when the tide went out, and evenly rise with the incoming tide. Gundalows made it possible for cargo to be shipped upstream from Portsmouth to towns such as Durham, Newmarket and Dover, expanding trade and developing Portsmouth into a successful port town. Because of their key role in developing the area’s economy, the gundalow is often referred to as the tractor-trailer of its time.

However, as new means of land transportation were developed, including the growth of the railroad, the gundalow became obsolete and nearly forgotten. In 2002 a group of individuals concerned with both the preservation of the gundalow’s history and the well-being of the seacoast’s waterways started The Gundalow Company, a non-profit, to share their concerns with the public.

Today the Gundalow Company offers various types of group sailing trips through Portsmouth and Kittery on their gundalow, the Piscataqua, designed to emulate the cargo barges of the past. The Gundalow Company is passionate about spreading awareness of the region’s maritime heritage and environment through education and action. With education at the forefront of the Gundalow Companies mission, many school and youth sails are offered for children of all ages from spring to fall.

Read the full story here.