Photo Essay: Herreshoff Marine Museum Celebrates the Golden Age of Yacht Design

Photo Essay: Herreshoff Marine Museum Celebrates the Golden Age of Yacht Design

If you've ever been boatstruck by a beautiful boat, then the Herreshoff Marine Museum is your kind of place. Filled with boats of all shapes and sizes, mementos and photos, it's enough to make you wish you had been alive back in the eighteen to nineteen hundreds during the golden age of sail design when Nathaniel Herreshoff and the Herreshoff family was beautifying the world with sleek and breath-taking creations.

It all got started in 1878 when John Brown Herreshoff, a blind boatbuilder from Bristol, Rhode Island, who had been in business since 1863, went into partnership with his younger brother, Nathanael Green Herreshoff, a naval architect and steam engineer. The name of their new firm was the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company.

Coquina, a little daysailer that Herreshoff designed in the winter of 1889 and sailed most of his life.

Hanging boats

Harvard launch
Herreshof boasted he could make a better launch, or vedette, than those being built by John White of Cowes, who enjoyed a monopoly supplying such boats to the British Navy. In a contest with boats of the same length, Herreshoff's launch was declared a unanimous winner and the monopoly was broken.

Reliance model

Model of Reliance, he 1903 America's Cup defender, the fourth America's Cup defender from designer Nat Herreshoff.

Reliance bested her America's Cup challenger, Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock III, designed by William Fife, in all three races they competed, and promptly retired undefeated. Reportedly the largest gaff-rigged cutter ever built, she measured 201 feet long and the tip of her mast was 199 feet above the water--the height of a 20-story building.

Her total sail area of 16,156.6 sq ft was the equivalent of eight 12 meter class yachts and needed a crew of 64. Understandably, she was referred to as a 'freak.' After her brief career, she was sold for scrap in 1913.

Multiple boats
Distinctive and recognizable lines immediately say to a viewer, "That's a Herreshoff!"

When a Herreshoff yacht was delivered to its owner, it came complete with its own set of china.


Bow of Torch
Bow of Torch, a Fisher Island 31, built in 1929.

Torch cockpit

Torch cockpit.

Torch cabin
Torch interior.

Torch head
Head on Torch, note butterfly skylight.

Better engines were a Herreshoff development, too.

If you like beautiful boats, then also check out Ballentine's Boat Shop and [Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway.


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