February 15, 2021

This Week in Herreshoff History: February 18

Schooners and fishing boats, some geographical confusion, a very busy winter and spring, and quite a few steam yachts

February 17, 1872

The schooner LATONA was launched on the 15th of February and J.B.H. is planning to lay the keel for another fishing steamer next, according to the Bristol Phoenix. LATONA was designed by N.G.H. The fishing steamer referred to is KINGFISHER (HMCo. #9), built to the same model as OSPREY (HMCo. #6) and the later WILLIAM SPICER (HMCo. #13). All three were built for the Bristol Steam Fishing Company, which was in part another Herreshoff family business venture.

February 19, 1887

The Bristol Phoenix again throws shade by reprinting an article published in the New York Herald and refuting some of the finer points. The article in question primarily describes the not-so-secret "aquatic greyhound" CLARA (HMCo. #140), a 98'6" LOA steam yacht then under construction for Charles H. Kellogg. Perhaps the Phoenix was justified in its skepticism of reporters from away getting the facts straight. In a March 20th article describing CLARA and other HMCo. activity in the New York Times, that venerable institution described the local surrounds in a dispatch from "Bristol, Mass" as follows: "Kellogg's yacht is at present hauled up at a place on Narragansett Bay opposite Bristol, which goes by the euphonious name of 'Hopsquash...'" Seven vessels were built to the half model first carved by Captain Nat ca. July of 1882. CLARA was the third of the bunch after ORIENTA (HMCo. #89) in 1882 and LUCILLE [II] (HMCo. #122) in 1885. LUCILLE was also originally built for Kellogg, but reported sold by HMCo. in 1887. Kellogg appears to have been trading up, ever so slightly: CLARA was 8'6" longer than LUCILLE and carried a triple (to LUCILLE's double) expansion steam engine, but both boats were built to the same model and had the same 11'4" beam.

Construction drawing for CLARA (HMCo. #140); image courtesy the MIT Museum, Haffenreffer-Herreshoff Collection
CLARA (HMCo. #140) photographed by Nathaniel Stebbins September 1893; image courtesy Historic New England Stebbins Photographic Collection

February 18, 1893

The cutter NAVAHOE (HMCo. #429) was launched on this day 128 years ago. NAVAHOE, COLONIA (HMCo. #435) and VIGILANT (HMCo. #437) were all under construction one after another that same winter, and all three over 100'. NAVAHOE was launched in February, COLONIA in May, and VIGILANT in June (almost one month to the day after COLONIA). And between February and June? HMCo. launched a 91' steam yacht (KALOOLAH, HMCo. #173), a 27' launch (HMCo. #176), a 102' steam yacht (LOUISE, HMCo. #175), a 48' high speed launch (VANISH, HMCo. #177), a 28' fin keeler (MORWENA, HMCo. #431), an 18' fin keeler (BUBBLE, HMCo. #436), two 18'6" tenders (one each for COLONIA and VIGILANT), a 37'6" fin keeler (MENEEN, HMCo. #438), a 29' catboat (KITE, HMCo. #434), a 30' WL sloop (BONNIE DOON, HMCo. #430), a 62' steam yacht (LOON, HMCo. #174) and an 18'10" racing catboat (VIOLA, HMCo. #432). As Captain Nat later wrote, "This was a busy winter for me, as well for the working men." Indeed.

NAVAHOE (HMCo. #429), photographed June 8, 1893 on the day of the Goelet Cup off Newport - NAVAHOE won; image courtesy Historic New England Stebbins Photographic Collection

February 16, 1906

The Phoenix reports on the launch of SISILINA (HMCo. #249). SISILINA was the last of eleven vessels built to the same model. This model served as the basis for N.G.H.'s Scout Class, so named for the second vessel built to the model. As L. Francis described in The Wizard of Bristol, "Captain Nat designed a quite remarkable small steam yacht for August Belmont to act as a tender to the 'Mineola.' [HMCo. #529] She was named 'Scout,' [HMCo. #203] and eventually the Herreshoff Company built seven [nine] of these fast steamers which were generally referred to as the Scout Class. They were all built on the same molds and had the same power plants but varied in length some fourteen feet, and, as I recall it, varied in speed from about twenty to twenty-one and a half miles per hour. These were extremely smooth running yachts that were fine sea boats and economical in fuel consumption. Some of them lasted quite a long time and they were the forerunners in construction and general arrangement of many gasoline launches built by several builders." 

SCOUT (HMCo. #203) photographed by Stebbins off Newport on August 11, 1902; image courtesy Historic New England Stebbins Photographic Collection