The Gundalow Piscataqua
The Gundalow Piscataqua under sail, eastbound on the Piscataqua River
One of Portsmouth’s premier seasonal attractions (a wonderful family activity) is the Gundalow Company’s Portsmouth harbor and Piscataqua River cruise program, unique in North America as far as our editors know.
Gundalows were flat-bottomed, shallow-draft sailing barges with triangular sails, originally built in the mid-1600s, and used on rivers like the Piscataqua (between Maine and New Hampshire), with strong tidal currents, primarily employing the daily ebb and flow of the tides to carry them up and down the rivers with bulk cargoes.
The Gundalow Company offers afternoon and evening cruises on the Gundalow Piscataqua, a replica of the hundreds of flat-bottomed, built in 2011 on the grounds of Strawbery Banke. Private charters are also available for groups.
The 90-minute afternoon harbor cruises introduce guests to the downtown Portsmouth harborfront, two lighthouses, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and to two revolutionary war fortifications, one each on both the Maine and New Hampshire sides of the river.
Guests on the two-hour sunset sails are invited to bring their own picnic dinners and beverages and to assist the crew in raising and lowering the sails and steering the ship.
The Gundalow company also offers two-hour concert cruises featuring a variety of music from Bluegrass to Jazz on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and, again, concert cruise guests are also encouraged to bring their own picnic dinners and beverages.