May 27, 2021

This Month in Herreshoff History: “Vale Ingomar!” a tribute by William H. Taylor

90 years ago this month, the first sports writer to ever win a Pulitzer looks back on an HMCo. schooner's three-decade career...

This article by William H. Taylor was originally published in YACHTING Magazine in May 1931. It is by turns an affectionate and humorous tribute to a vessel that had been lost just months before in February 1931, the famous steel schooner INGOMAR (HMCo. #590). The piece includes excerpts from Major B. Heckstall-Smith's book, All Hands on the Main Sheet, as well as accounts of INGOMAR's early success racing abroad and at home, her time as a houseboat and cruiser, and the sobering details of her wreck off the Frying Pan Shoals.

What follows is a brief excerpt from happier times in INOGMAR's racing history that we hope will inspire you to read the whole article (link below). For your enjoyment and historical context we have also left the surrounding ads and copy intact - and even included an extra HMCo. ad from the same issue.

"Another feature of the yacht, and a curiosity even to her last days, was the circular main saloon surmounted by a big circular skylight between the masts. It was an odd affair, delightful at anchor but not so good at sea, according to the Major. For one thing, the skylight worked like a mushroom ventilator and could not be opened on the lee side and closed to weather to keep out the spray. Then, too, the saloon, with a fixed table and movable chairs, seems to have been a great place for falling around in, with no corners into which one could wedge one's self.

Ingomar's tendency to take a sharp angle of heel rather suddenly aggravated this difficulty, according to the Major, whose book abounds in incidents of elderly ladies and members of the royalty and nobility scrambling about on the floor of the saloon.

'Down by the lee settee,' reads one such passage, 'were pearls, plates, knives, forks, decanters, hairpins, hams, broken chair legs and salad.' Another time, when a German prince was below reading a paper as the yacht left Ostend, she took a quick, sharp heel. Presently, the Major went below to find His Highness sitting on the floor to leeward, calmly lighting a cigarette, with the paper he had been reading impaled on a gas jet high above him on the lee bulkhead..."

Click here to read the whole article...

INGOMAR during the NYYC cruise off of Newport on the day of the Astor Cup races, July 25 1903; image courtesy Historic New England Stebbins Photographic Collection
INGOMAR's construction drawing - note circular saloon and skylight as mentioned above; image courtesy The MIT Museum, Haffenreffer-Herreshoff Collection