Celebrating our Rivers

We invite you to bring your students on a very special field trip – a school sail aboard the gundalow PISCATAQUA on the tidal waters of New Hampshire and southern Maine.

Our sailing season begins mid-May and runs through October, with sails offered mornings and afternoons Monday through Friday.  Our standard 2.5 hour program is typically based in Portsmouth and can accommodate up to 27 students (with four adults). If two classes share a bus, gundalow staff will help arrange a shore-based activity for students when they’re not out on the boat (learn more about our full day program).

Each season the PISCATAQUA visits one or two towns “up river” or in Great Bay, and we’ll be happy to arrange programs in other towns when possible. Our programs and activities are correlated with state frameworks and closely aligned with principles of both estuarine and ocean literacy. Gundalow crew will work with you to customize the trip and guarantee your class a meaningful educational experience.

During school sails on the PISCATAQUA, students are engaged at customized learning stations related to exploration of the waterways and the operation of the gundalow, and work with the crew to set the sail, steer, and navigate. Activities are hands-on and place-based, combining concepts from social studies, science, math, art, and language arts. Critical thinking skills, decision making, and working as a team are all incorporated into the experience.

The cultural and natural history of the area will come alive as your students join the gundalow crew – – setting the sail, steering the boat, and engaging in active learning and teamwork throughout the trip. Students will board as a group and then rotate through an established program as the PISCATAQUA leaves the dock and travels down river.  Our Celebrating Our Rivers Program includes the 3 stations listed below:

Human Impact on the Watershed: Students use our 3D watershed model to explore how our actions on land impact the watershed and river on which we sail

Marine Food Chain: Using a plankton net, student engage in a 5 minute tow to collect plankton.  After looking at the plankton under magnification, students, student work their way up the food chain by looking at various filter feeders and eventually a lobster.

Sense of Place: During the sense of place station, students work with a nautical chart, compasses, binoculars, and other tools to determine their location.  Based on students interest, the crew will discuss the history or ecology of the region through which we are sailing.

In addition to our Celebrating our Rivers program, we offer several additional stations listed in our Sailing with STEAM program.  Many teachers choose to substitute water quality for one of the stations listed above.

See how our program aligns with state and national standards, frameworks and principles: celebrating-our-rivers-with-standards

To book a trip email education@gundalow.org and visit our booking page.

While the trip will be customized for your class, a sample agenda follows. Please note that the times are approximate and are based on your arrival.


9:00 Safety talk and orientation

9:15 First watch (set the sail)

9:30 First learning station

10:00 Off watch (chantey or observation)

10:15 Second learning station

10:45 Last watch (chantey or observation)

11:00 Third learning station

11:30 Return to the Dock

Your class will sail rain or shine so be sure students dress appropriately.

The trip will be canceled by the captain only in severe conditions *

Contact Us

Gundalow Company
60 Marcy Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 433-9505
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