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1813 Gunboat Schooner Porcupine


The  Schoolship for Presque Isle Bay.

An historic, sustainable, and high profile Bayfront asset.

The Bayfront Maritime Center is designing and building a representation of Erie’s historic Schooner Porcupine. This project began with the generous donation of a 40′ fiberglass hull meticulously crafted by an Ohio couple, Keith and Kathy Palmerton, who dreamed of retiring aboard and cruising the world.  Their plans were thwarted by health challenges.  The Palmertons heard about the important work being done at BMC with inner city and underserved youth who are struggling to succeed in school and donated the hull and 85 HP marine diesel engine and other equipment.

Porcupine’s mission will be sailing as the Schoolship for Presque Isle Bay, a hands-on sailing STEM classroom and historic regional attraction, interpreting her important part in the War of 1812, sailing for the US Coastal Survey Office, being a United States Revenue Cutter, and carrying cargo as the merchant schooner Caroline until 1873.

The completed square topsail rigged Porcupine will be operated by the Bayfront Maritime Center as a historic, sailing science vessel for area school students. Porcupine will also offer sailing charters and special events during the sailing season. Because of her size and draft Porcupine will be able to visit Erie’s smaller neighboring ports on both sides of Lake Erie that are not accessible to larger vessels. Because of her modern high density closed cell marine foam and fiberglass hull, she will be a sustainable, efficient, cost effective and high profile local asset with deep ties to Erie’s rich maritime heritage.

The Bayfront Maritime Center has assembled an accomplished team for this exciting project.

★ David Bierig, Sailmaker – Designer, & Richard Eisenberg, BMC Executive Director ★ Project Directors

★Jamie Trost ★ Project Manager and Captain

 ★ Robert Arlet ★   Master Shipwright

★Iver Franzen★ Naval Architect

★ Randy and Cherie Lachowski ★  Campaign Co-Chairpersons

★ David Frew ★  Fundraiser

★ Bensur Creative Marketing Group ★  Marketing

 ★ Melinda Meyer ★  Grantwriter

Shipwright-Bob Arlet, Sailmaker-Dave Bierig, Project Manager-Captain Jamie Trost (l-r)

Shipwright-Bob Arlet, Sailmaker-Dave Bierig, Project Manager&Captain-Jamie Trost (l-r)

The next step for this project is fundraising.  The hull and associated equipment represents a $75,000

Click here to see giving and naming opportunities!

Click here to see giving and naming opportunities!

investment in materials by the builders. The Bayfront Maritime Center is seeking $200,000 in donations, gifts, sponsorships and grants to add to $200,000 in pledged contributed services for the completion and launch of the gunboat.  Contributions will be fully tax deductible because they will be directed toward the Bayfront Maritime Center (BMC) which is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  Organizational gifts may be eligible for the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Contributors will be named in a permanent way on the schooner as well as on the BMC campus, and divided into the following categories.

We hope to secure several major gifts and grants to ease the fundraising task needed to launch Porcupine by May 2016.  We are also interested in increasing the number of stakeholders, so we have provided giving levels from as little as $25.  Donors will each receive a one-year BMC membership  and their names will be permanently affixed to both the Porcupine and on the BMC waterfront campus. They will receive a regular newsletter apprising them of progress on the Porcupine project, and  will be invited to the spring 2016 launching party.

                      Please call Rich Eisenberg, 814-456-4077 with any  inquiries, or email:


The Schooner Porcupine hull in BMC's boatshop. The 2nd St. Ayles Skiff is seen (bottom left) nearing completion.

The hull on its oak cradle shortly after it arrived at BMC.

                          Schooner Porcupine Construction photos:



The ballast keel of 1/2″ CorTen steel plate, welded up by volunteer Jerry Bien. When filled with 5″ thick steel plate, lead, swarf, and pitch, it weighed 7,800 pounds. The form for the new lazarette is taking shape on the transom.


Keel Inspection

Keel in place and being inspected by USCG Dave Baisden, smiling. Retired boilermaker, Jerry Bien, center, and Porcupine Captain Jamie Trost.


New Bow Shape

The “inner” glass plys being applied over the 1″ x 1″ cypress mold of the new 1813 fuller bow shape.

New Bow

The closed cell high density marine foam core was epoxied onto the glass. The screws and washers were removed.

2015-10-13 11.34.30

Later, glass was epoxied over the foam core and new white oak stem. L to R: David Bierig, Jamie Trost, Nick Rinn and Bob Arlet.


2016-02-23 16.36.41

2016-02-19 11.17.15



Deck construction.

Deck construction.


George Stabile fastening deck beams and installing blocking on Porcupine's new deck.

George Stabile fastening deck beams and installing blocking on Porcupine’s new deck.


Construction volunteer Rick Hersey and boatbuilder Nick Rinn.

Construction volunteer Rick Hersey and boatbuilder Nick Rinn.


Deck beams, carlins, clamps and blocking.

Deck beams, carlins, clamps, and blocking.


White oak knees.

Bob Arlet and Nick Rinn laying out the collision bulkhead.

Bob Arlet and Nick Rinn laying out the collision bulkhead.

Nick and George

George and Nick working on the deck. The deck beams and carlins are laminated cypress.

The bow.

The breasthook is installed and the collision bulkhead is in place.

Breast hook

Breast hook


Tall Ship Schooner Porcupine

Tall Ship Schooner Porcupine.

Porcupine deck construction.

Bob Arlet and Nick Rinn.

Bob Arlet and Nick Rinn.


Engine room bulkhead.

Nick working to install the engine room bulkhead. The 85 HP Perkins marine diesel engine is covered up.

Deck framing from below. The engine is center covered up.

Deck framing from below. The engine is center covered up.


Gunboat Schooner Porcupine History

The Porcupine was one of the schooner rigged gunboats built in Erie by Daniel Dobbins and Ebeneezer Crosby to fight in the battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  The gunboat schooner Porcupine was used as a hospital ship immediately following the Battle of Lake Erie.  She fought in several later campaigns supporting  the Detroit and Thames River land forces, making her story  intimately connected to regional history.  Porcupine was transferred to the US Coastal Survey Office and used to chart and document coastlines.   She later served in the Revenue Cutter Service.  She was sold to a merchant in 1825, renamed Caroline, and carried cargo on the Great Lakes for 47 years, making this square topsail schooner the longest lasting vessel of Perry’s fleet.

The unfinished fiberglass hull rolling into the BMC boatshop.

The unfinished fiberglass hull rolling into the BMC boatshop.

Dry land incline experiment.

The incline experiment determined a starting point for the vertical center of gravity.


Hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in the boatshop!


The keel sitting on an angle iron “knife edge” for precise, accurate measurements.


19 Responses

  1. Congratulations on a great choice of Captains! Cpt. Trost is so very maritime talented/knowledgeable and works well with all generations. He will be missed in Baltimore!

  2. bob schneider

    volunteers for the project needed ?

  3. Ian Bell

    What an exciting project. Fair winds on your new adventure. We’ll be watching for her sails from the pier in Port Dover!

  4. […] Interested supporters can check out the Porcupine’s Kickstarter page,, Facebook,, and website, […]

  5. Hi
    The Friends of the Tall Ships Worldwide Association are delighted to be able to feature this magnificent project in our forthcoming 4th quarter free downloadable pdf e magazine for all friends of tall ships.
    Good luck with this I know how hard it is to get this off the ground as I have spent nearly 40 years supporting the STS Lord Nelson project.

  6. Trying to get in touch with Jamie Trost-

    Peter Huston
    Friends of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

  7. great undertakeing “Fair Winds”

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