Herreshoff's "Yawl Cat"

"YAWL CAT", Herreshoff Manufacturing Company's Hull # 1226 was built during the height of the depression for Edward E. Mallinckrodt Jr, of the St. Louis, Missouri Chemical and Pharmaceutical giant bearing his family name. Mallinckrodt was at this time already a client, owning a 27' Yawl,"Gee Whiz", and a 35' gasoline Yacht "Pollyanna. Yawl Cat was built to Captain Nat's half model made for L.A. Scott's "Au Revoir " Hull # 681, in 1908. The same model was used as well, for George F. Baker Jr's. (Founder of Citibank, and the namesake of Harvard Business School ) , "VENTURA" ,{HMCo Hull #867 ,1922}, 'the antithesis of a New York 50', to be a shooting platform and floating lodge for Baker and his guests in the shallow haunts of southern waterfowl.

Ventura is a Federally-documented National Landmark sailing vessel and is still in service as a charter vessel in New York City. "VENTURA CHARTERS"

The Yawl Cat was intended for the Mallinckrodt son, who never claimed her. She sat impatiently on her launching cradle. Young Mallinckrodt was killed in an untimely airplane accident that same year.

During the 1930-1935 period the wood shavings were flying at the Bristol yard. With its most ambitious efforts yet, building among other craft the legendary J sloops the , WEETAMOE, , RAINBOW, "Whirlwind" and the eventual America's Cup Defender ENTERPRISE. The latter will be recalled as outstanding winner of the cup in late summer 1930, in the spectacular four races with Sir Thomas Lipton's graceful Challenger "Shamrock V".

Readied on a cradle she sat unnoticed in the middle of the busy yard, awaiting launching, and an Owner-Skipper to replaced lamented young Mallinckrodt. After 5 years of neglect on dry land, the Cat was bought by a Mr. Bailey, a Cadillac dealer from Baltimore.

The sun baked "Yawl Cat" was finally launched in 1937 and promptly sank beneath the Bristol Harbor waters. But all the emersion could not keep a Captain Nat wood hull submerged. and after her planks swelled, she rose like a "dipper duck" and the Baileys sailed her away to her new home on the Chesapeake Bay.

After cruising and racing on the Chesapeake Bay for seven years the yacht was Sold to Mr. Otto N Frezel, then Chairman Of the Board of Merchants National Bank, who owned her for 20 years.

WORLD WAR II followed the catastrophic 1938 New England hurricane that devastated the Herreshoff yard at Bristol. The 1939 war events eclipsed America's Cup events and the name of Herreshoff became a memory, except where their boats survived. The War ended and aging Mr Frenzel sailed the wood boat (still enjoying it's nine lives) to Florida. It dropped it's anchor at Miami Sunday, August 5, 1962, the gift of Otto N. Frenzel to the University of Miami, Dept of Oceanography. The "Yawl Cat" was rechristened "GYPSY" for its Southern Florida research wanderings. The University eventually sold the Herreshoff to an Eastern Airline pilot named Edmond M. Kerge, who sold it
in 1967 to another airline pilot named Ronald S. Hamelin who did not like the name of "Gypsy" after taking delivery of his "dream boat" at Biscayne Bay, Hamelin rechristened the still proud classic yacht,"Sea Piper" During one of its racing periods Hamelin took the liberty of writing L. Francis hershoff , Nat's son, suggesting that her unique "Cat Yawl" sail plan of the designer might be improved. "Sacrilege!" was the horrified reply from L. Francis . His letter continues: "In those sail changes you will have ruined a Stradivarius (violin) by trying to make a flying trapeze out of it!!!" "I have designed sailboats all my life and lapping jibs are out".


The stormy waters of Lake Superior beckoned Hamelin's "Sea Piper" northward and she navigated toward the Great Lakes. It's not clear how long her tenure lasted at on the great lakes but she eventually returned to Miami where she was purchased by Margo and Carl Boehle and moved to Clearwater Bay Municiple Marina, where she would become the home of Margo and Carl For over ten years.

After Carl's death "Sea Piper" was sold to Harriet "Hank" Scarbury, of St. Petersburg, FL April 14, 1990. "Hank" owned the boat until 1993 and sold it to her friend Pete who owned the boat for about a year. He in turn sold it to Cpt. Geoff McNett, a Tugboat Captain in Duneden, FL in November of 1994.

Geoff changed the name back to "Yawl Cat", (It is believed that the yacht was named by Nat , himself, for her yawl rig, and unique forward steped main mast similar to a cat boat rig. It is also believed that this custom built yacht was the only rigging and sail plan of it's design ever produced by Herreshoff.) Geoff enjoyed sailing her on Clearwater bay and had plans of restoring her to her original grandeur. By the time he got her she was in need of a great deal of work. His schedule as a professional sailor kept him at sea for extended periods of time. In October of 1999 the "Curatorship" of this fine and Historic Vessel was passed on to Peter Evert and Richard Piatt. She was towed down Clearwater Bay from Duneden and hauled at Clearwater Bay Marina, put on a truck and shipped to M.E.A Boatyard outside Charlotte, NC where her restoration has started.

She is 55"0" L.O.A. 43'0" W.L. 14'6" Beam and drafts 4'3" with the board up. She carries a sail plan of Sqft, 25 Gross tons and 18 tons net.

Krush Bothers Marine Transportation made the task of moving the giant lady and her near 80' main mast over land a breeze. They were the most accommodating professional and friendly transportation company we have ever dealt with. We would highly recommend them to anyone that needs to move a boat, and we will always use them in the future.

Her restoration has begun on the hard. It will be a long and expensive proposition to bring her back to her "Bristol" condition when she left Narragansett Bay, nearly three quarters of a century ago, but it will be worth it. There never will be another built like her. The craftmanship and skill that went into the "Yawl Cat" and other vessels like her is a dying art and an important part of history, that needs to be preserved for the next millenium, and for future generations. The Herreshoff Ownerslist is a Who's Who of 19th and 20th century Business and History in America.

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