Gamage Shipyard announced new owners who are old and familiar faces. General Manager Mike Tatro led the purchase and is joined by Carol Morrison in Finance and John Vinal in Operations.
Previous owner Rory Cowan said, “I grew up in Gloucester, MA and understand the importance of a vibrant, and working waterfront. Successful, enduring waterfront businesses need solid, knowledgeable teams. Mike, Carol and John are just such a team. They know the operations, the customers, and most of all they know boats. They all grew up in the mid-coast, so they’re familiar will 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.”
Mike Tatro joined GSY in April of 2015 as a General Manager. Under Tatro’s leadership Gamage Shipyard has been restored to a full-service boatyard. Yards of today need to have several lines of business to stay commercially viable and locally competitive: 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, Mike has assembled a highly skilled crew to continue implementing his vision of bringing Gamage Shipyard to the next level.
Under his six years of management, the Gamage Shipyard has seen many improvements to daily operations and expanded the services offered. Tatro’s eye for detail is seen in every customer project and every improvement made along the way. His attention to detail when it comes to customer experience is second to none, and his net promoter score is also evidence of just how successful the business is at putting their customers first, above everything else. Due to this, there is a demand for more storage buildings, additional slips in the marina, as well as a coffee shop, and perhaps a community workspace in the boathouse.
He also sees the yard getting 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 engaged in a second build, with a third on the horizon. Refits and new builds require many of the same activities, which allow the team to grow their individual skills.
History of the Yard
Gamage Shipyard, located in South Bristol on a 6 acre waterfront parcel, 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 than 88 sail and steam-powered boats.
In 1924, Harvey F. Gamage took over the business and from 1924 to 1976, Harvey Gamage oversaw the construction of more than 288 sailboats, powerboats, draggers, scallopers, and windjammers. The construction of eight wooden military vessel occupied Gamage boatbuilding from 1940 to 1944, the business turned to building rugged, able, and profitable wooden fishing boats. Gamage also built a few yachts, pleasure powerboats, and lobster boats during this period. In 1959, Gamage built the first schooner designed specifically for the windjammer passenger trade, the MARY DAY. The 83-foot MAY DAY, launched in 1960, started a new era at the yard. 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. These included the SHENANDOAH, BILL OF RIGHTS, the yard’s namesake the HARVEY GAMAGE, the artic research vessel HERO, and Pete Seeger’s iconic sloop CLEARWATER, America’s environmental flagship. The CLEARWATER was built to support Mr. Seeger’s Clearwater organization’s mission to clean the Hudson River. Also, in 1970, the yard’s first steel-hulled boat, the fishing vessel ELIZABETH, was launched. This concession to change in boatbuilding techniques and materials was followed by nine more steel fishing boats.
After Harvey Gamage passed 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, MA, purchased the yard. A long-time resident of South Bristol, he invested heavily and brought Gamage Shipyard into a new era. He made several infrastructure investments including the removal of the derelict buildings, adding a new marina, a state-of-the-art shop, new yard office, and heated storage facilities.
The new management would like to invite everyone to come down, see the yard and marina, meet the people and get a tour of the yard and its history. We’re looking forward to many years of service, refits, building new boats, and maintaining a beautiful yard here on the Gut in South Bristol.