Friday, November 19, 2010


Nellie is a powerful reminder of the age-old relationship between yachts and wealth. A century ago, this gaff-rigged cutter graced the western waters of Long Island Sound, flying the burgees of such exclusive yacht clubs as Larchmont, American, and Seawanka. She is the product of an era when sailing was a pastime reserved for men with pedigrees and summers off. An era when the western Sound served as the epicenter and playground for that crest of idle wealth.
Designed and constructed by the legendary Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Rhode Island, she was launched in 1903 for Morton Plant of New Haven, an heir to Reconstruction era railroad lines in the southern U.S.. With a 35' LWL and a deck that extends 46', she was one of three boats built to this design (Harold S. "Mike" Vanderbilt and J. Malcom Forbes owned the other two).
Surviving numerous owners and several different names (Butterfly), Nellie spent nearly 8 decades of the 20th century in western Long Island Sound. She had an auxiliary engine added in 1935; a new deckhouse in 1941; and suffered severe damage from a boatyard fire in 1959. Succumbing to the ravages of time, she
began her second century undergoing a 7 year restoration project which was just recently completed.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to get a first hand view of Nellie and meet her crew. What an enthusiastic, accommodating, and fun group they are! I was invited aboard and given a tour which included a wealth of information about her history. She is a special boat and their pride in her was evident.

She is scheduled this winter to undergo work on some punchlist items from her recent restoration. Come spring, she will be back in the western Sound, ready to grace the waters for the next hundred years.

SY NELLIE: website (this is one of the best websites for a boat I have come across. Take some time and enjoy the photos and videos of her history and restoration. I highly recommend a visit; a long visit. You won't be disappointed)
Wooden Boat Magazine: Nellie (some beautiful photos of her undersail)
Herreshoff Marine Museum: website
YouTube: Interior Tour
Picasa: Nellie: Oyster Bay Spring Classic photo credits: Karen Martin


Larry said...

That is a nice website-great photos on it.It's interesting to see that the original price was $6,400.I wonder what she's worth now?

Erica Houskeeper said...

Interesting story and nice website showcasing her history. That will be exciting to see her back in the Sound in the spring.

Jeannette StG said...

How America has changed since then! Even though we're going through a serious recession/depression right now, I still see many boats in San Diego's harbor!

Mark Kreider said...

1903 was the year of the first Wright brothers flight. It may well be hanging in the Smithsonian, but it's not something anyone would want to take aloft. The Nellie, however, is indeed timeless and with care and devotion can do today what she was designed and built to do these many years ago with grace and speed and pleasure!

Great posts!