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The Nowedonah, Princess of the Sea

The Nowedonah is modelled after a St. Ayles rowing skiff, an exThe Nowedonah is modelled after a St. Ayles rowing skiff, an example of which is picture above.ample of which is picture above.
The Nowedonah is modelled after a St. Ayles rowing skiff, an example of which is picture above.

The Southampton History Museum is proud to host the building of the Nowedonah, a St. Ayles rowing skiff. Construction will take place at the historic Sayre Barn on the grounds of the Rogers Mansion throughout the spring and summer of 2024. The Nowedonah boat-building project is led by James “Keith” Phillips, a member of the Shinnecock Nation, with help from Andrew "Gumbo" Hurley and other local volunteers.


The boat is named in honor of Princess Nowedonah, also known as Lois Marie Hunter (1904-1975), who was an educator, advocate, and historian of the Shinnecock community. She was a direct descendent of Chief Nowedonah, the Shinnecock leader who first met the English settlers when they came ashore at Conscience Point in 1640. When finished, the Nowedonah will belong exclusively to the women of the Shinnecock Nation, in honor of Princess Nowedonah and the community's maritime heritage.



The Nowedonah is modelled after the St. Ayles rowing skiff, a 22-foot boat prized for its sea-handling ability. This boat design was chosen due to its similarity to nineteenth-century whaleboats crewed by Shinnecock whalers at the height of Southampton's whaling industry.


Whaleboat demonstration during the 250th Anniversary of the Village and Town of Southampton in 1890
Whaleboat demonstration during the 250th Anniversary of the Village and Town of Southampton in 1890 (local whaler and enterpeneur, Pyrrhus Concer, is pictured on the far left). Image: Southampton History Museum Collection.

Agile and stable boats were essential for whaling. Although the St. Ayles skiff is smaller than a traditional whaleboat, they are both easily transported and feature a double-ended hull with a relatively wide beam. Whaleboats were also used as life boats by U.S. Life-Saving & Coast Guard Stations, their rugged design and simple open structure allowed them to easily handle rough surf.


Life Boat in the Breakers. Image: Southampton History Museum Collection.
Life Boat in the Breakers. Image: Southampton History Museum Collection.
Nowedonah under construction in the Sayre Barn. Image by Keith Phillips.
Nowedonah under construction in the Sayre Barn. Image by Keith Phillips.

Vistors are welcome to stop by the historic Sayre Barn (built 1825) at the Rogers Mansion Museum Complex to see the boat-building in progress during most weekdays from 1:00-4:00pm. Throughout the summer, we'll also share updates and images of the Nowedonah’s construction. Keep an eye on the Southampton History Museum's website and social media for more!

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