New Owners for Gamage Shipyard
Monday, April 19th 2021
The historic Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol has new owners, but customers of the yard will have no trouble recognizing their faces. General Manager Mike Tatro led the purchase, joined by Carol Morrison in Finance and John Vinal in Operations.
They acquired the company from Rory Cowan and the sale was announced in March 2021. “I grew up in Gloucester, MA and understand the importance of a vibrant, and working waterfront. Mike, Carol and John know the operations, the customers, and most of all, they know boats. They all grew up in the mid-coast, so they’re familiar with all local opportunities and local customer desires. I’m delighted to be able to support their vision for the yard, and its next phase of development. It’s a proven and reliable team.”
Tatro joined the yard in April of 2015 as a general manager. Under his leadership Gamage Shipyard has been restored to a full-service boatyard, with slips and moorings, seasonal service, refit, repower, restoration capabilities, and the ability to build new. Utilizing his 30 years of mid-coast yard management and boat building experience, Tatro assembled a highly skilled crew to bring the yard to the next level.
Under his six years of management, the shipyard has seen many improvements to daily operations and expanded the services offered. There is demand for more storage buildings, additional slips in the marina, as well as a coffee shop and perhaps a community work space in the boat house.
Tatro’s vision included bringing the yard back to its roots building boats. In July of 2020 Gamage Shipyard launched the first boat built at the yard in nearly forty years. Currently the yard is in engaged in a second build, with a third on the horizon.
Located in South Bristol on a 6 acre waterfront parcel, Gamage Shipyard is a full service yard with over 25,000 square feet of storage space, 2 rental properties, an office and service building. The yard was founded in 1871 with the purchase of land, including the marina waterfront, by Albion and Menzies (A & M) Gamage, who had been building large wooden sailing vessels since the early 1850s. Over the next 50 years, they built more the 88 sail and steam-powered boats.
In 1924, Harvey F. Gamage took over the business and from 1924 to 1976, oversaw the construction of more than 288 sailboats, powerboats, draggers, scallopers, and windjammers. The construction of eight wooden military vessels occupied Gamage boatbuilding from 1940 to 1944. In 1944, the business turned to building wooden fishing boats, along with a few yachts, pleasure powerboats, and lobster boats. In 1959, Gamage built the first schooner designed specifically for the windjammer passenger trade, the Mary Day. From the launching of Mary Day in 1960, to the launching of Appledore II, the last schooner built at Gamage Shipyard in 1978, more than 40 vessels were constructed at the yard.
After Harvey Gamage died in 1976, his son, Linwood Gamage, ran the yard until its sale in 2000. During that time it was mainly a DYI storage facility, with seasonal service work.
In December of 2000, Rory Cowan of Boston purchased the yard. A long-time resident of South Bristol, he invested heavily and brought Gamage Shipyard into a new era. His infrastructure investments included the removal of derelict buildings, adding a new marina, a state-of-the-art shop, new yard office, and heated storage facilities.
In a press release announcing the news, the new managers said they were “looking forward to many years of service, refits, building new boats, and maintaining a beautiful yard here on the Gut in South Bristol.”
Photos from Top to Bottom: Mike Tatro, John vinal, and Carol Morrison
You can read more about the yard and its history in this MBH&H boatyard profile: