The Shallop Jane Stevens
A shallop in the 17th century was a small coastal boat without a deck which can be rowed or sailed. It was used mainly as a tender for larger vessels or for coastal fishing. Shallops have a shallow draft and can be used on both coastal and inland waterways. The word comes from the French chaloupe, and similar boats were used by the French, Dutch, Basque, and Spanish (chalupa in Spanish). Over time both larger and smaller boats have been given this name.
When the English explorers came to North America in the early 17th century they found natives using similar boats which were either taken from the French or Basque, or were built to mimic them. Although the lightweight canoes were much easier to portage, the heavier shallops were useful in larger bays.
One of the first things the colonists of the Popham Colony did after arriving (at the same time as building defenses) was to build a shallop. This may have been in “kit” form to allow for easy assembly. Before that shallop was complete, the colonists explored the Kennebec River and Casco Bay using the ships boats which were presumably shallops as well. However, the Mary & John left after only two months.
In 2011, Maine’s First Ship built a shallop as its first boat. This was done primarily by high school students as part of the Shallop Project. You can see videos from that project on the Videos page.
The shallop was named the Jane Stevens after one of the founders of Maine’s First ship, who had lived at the site of the Popham Colony during her retirement.
In the summer, the shallop Jane Stevens can commonly be seen anchored in the Kennebec River next to the Bath Freight Shed. In the winter she rests in the boat yard.
Sometimes she gets to go on road trips, and has made the journey to Pemaquid for the 17th Century Event.
She has frequently been out for rowing in the Kennebec near Bath.
The shallop Jane Stevens is one of the objects in the “Art of the Virginia” exhibit. This one shows Jane moored on a calm Kennebec River.