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Historical Materials: Vessel Types
New England Boat / Shallop (ancestral type)
The colonial American shallop is the ancestor of many regional types of New England fishing craft found in Lane's paintings and drawings, including "New England Boats" (known as "boats"), and later descendents, such as "Chebacco Boats," "Dogbodies," and "Pinkies." (discussed elsewhere)
These boats were very common work boat types on Cape Ann throughout the 1800s. They were primarily used for inshore coastal fishing, which included lobstering, gill-netting, fish-trapping, hand-lining, and the like. They were usually sailed by one or two men, sometimes with a boy, and could be rowed as well as sailed. An ordinary catch would include rock cod, flounder, fluke, dabs, or other small flat fish. The catch would be eaten fresh, or salted and stored for later consumption, or used as bait fish. Gill-netting would catch herring and alewives when spawning. Wooden lobster traps were marked with buoys much as they are today, and hauled over the low sides of the boat, emptied of lobsters and any by-catch, re-baited and thrown back.
Like other colonial vessel types, shallops were defined in many ways, including size, construction, and rig. Most commonly, they were open boats with square or sharp sterns, 20 to 30 feet in length, two-masted rigs, and heavy sawnframe construction which in time became lighter. (1)
The smaller shallops developed into a type called the Hampton Boat early in the nineteenth century, becoming the earliest named regional variant of what is now collectively termed the New England Boat. Other variants were named for their regions of origin: Isles of Shoals Boat, Casco Bay Boat, No Mans Land Boat, to name a few. No regional name for a Cape Ann version has survived, and "boat," or "two-masted boat" seems to have sufficed. (2)
Gloucester's New England Boats were mostly double-enders (sharp sterns) ranging in length from 25 to 30 feet, with two masts and two sails (no bowsprit or jib). They were used in the shore fisheries: handlining, gillnetting, and gathering or trapping shellfish (see , , and /entry: 240/). (3)
Larger, double-ended shallops became decked and evolved in Ipswich (the part now called Essex) to become Chebacco Boats. (4) This variant retained the two-mast, two-sail rig, but evolved further, acquiring a bowsprit and jib and becoming known as a pinky (see , , and ). The Chebacco Boat became a distinct type by the mid-eighteenth century giving rise to the pinky in the early ninetennth century; the latter, by the early 1900s. (5)
1. William A. Baker, Sloops & Shallops (Barre, MA: Barre Publishing Co., 1966), 27–33; and “Vessel Types of Colonial Massachusetts,” in Seafaring in Colonial Massachusetts (Boston: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1980), 13–15, see figs. 10, 11.
2. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 136–45.
3. Ibid., 145, upper photo, fourth page of plates.
4. Baker, 82–91.
5. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825–1935 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1973), 23–54.
THE NEW ENGLAND BOAT
By the 1840s, the Gloucester version of the New England Boat had evolved into a distinct regional type. Referred to locally as “boats,” the most common version was a double-ender, i.e. having a pointed stern, unlike the less common version having a square stern.
Both variants had two masts, a foresail, a mainsail, but no bowsprit or jib. Lane depicted both in several paintings, beginning in the mid-1840s (see , , and /entry: 240/), all ranging 25 to 30 feet in length. In and , a double-ender can be seen on the beach while a square-stern version lies at anchor in the harbor, just to the right of the former. (1)
Lane’s depictions of the double-enders show lapstrake hull planking in and , and cuddies (short decking) inboard at the ends for shelter and stowage of fishing gear in . The few square-stern examples (see and ) suggest carvel (smooth) planking and paint finish, rather than oil and tar. The presence of an example of the latter variant in Boston Harbor, as noted in , suggests a broader geographical range for this subtype. (2)
The primary use of Cape Ann’s “boats” was fishing, making “day trips” to coastal grounds for cod, herring, mackerel, hake, flounder, and lobster, depending on the season. Fishing gear included hooks and lines, gill nets, and various traps made of wood and fish net.
Some boats worked out of Gloucester Harbor, but other communities on Cape Ann had larger fleets, such as Sandy Bay, Pigeon Cove, Folly Cove, Lanesville, Bay View, and Annisquam. Lane’s depictions of these places and their boats are rare to nonexistent. (3)
The double-ended boat served Lane in marking the passage of time in Gloucester Harbor. In , we see new boats setting out to fish, but in and , a boat of the same type is depicted in a progressively worn state. In , the boat is a stove hulk on a beach, and in the same year, Lane depicted the type’s shattered bottom frame and planking lying on the shore at Norman’s Woe in .
Regional variants of the New England Boat appear in Lane’s paintings of Maine harbors, including one and two-masted versions, collectively called Hampton Boats (see , , , , and ). Some distinctive regional types were given names, i.e. Casco Bay Boats ( may be one), but many local type names, if they were coined, have been lost. (4)
1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 141–42.
2. Ibid., 152–55.
3. Sylvanus Smith, Fisheries of Cape Ann (Gloucester, MA: Press of the Gloucester Times, 1915), 96–97, 102–05, 110–13.
4. Chapelle, 152–55.