The NMHS Annual Meeting was held this year at the Herresh ojf Marine Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island.
NMHS was right at home here, as the Herreshojf Manufacturing Company represents a long and significant chapter in our boating heritage.
Leading player in the history of the company was Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, universally known as Captain Nat.
The “Wizard of Bristol” left a legacy of eight defenders of the America’s Cup, as well as naval vessels, daysailers, and power cruisers.
Born in 1848 to a fam il yofyachr enthusiasrs and innovators (eldesr bro rher James was an inventor who developed baking powder and a rhread tensioner for sewing machines).
Nathanael G reene Herreshoff developed the skills early in life that would make him a legendary designer and boatbuilder.
Nat’s o lder brother John Brown Herreshoff,
went blind at rhe age of fifteen, and young Nat assisted his brother in the pursuits that J. B. had developed before he lost his sight; Nat guided his brother’s hands in.
Machine shop, and at the render age of rwelve he was steering. boat in races.
After his graduarion from MIT and a stint as a designer for rhe Corliss Steam Engine Company,
Nat joined J. B.’s boarbuilding business in Bristol, Rhode Island, as full partner in 1878.
kept the books, and Nat oversaw design and construction, which at the time consisted primarily of steam yachrs and engines.
Nar’s expert designs and craftsmanship and J. careful bookkeeping made for a successful combination , and the company did not wa nt for orders, even in the early years.
They manufactured steam engines, vessels for mili tary use, including the spar torpedo boat for the US Navy, and steam yachts.
Nat was always designing, and always lookin g fo r ways to improve on designs;
He was a prolific boat designer;
His achievements, and the presti ge of designing eight America’s Cup defenders, gave the company a long, sue cessful history.
The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company stayed in family hands until 1924,
and continued under the ownership of the Haffenfeffe r family wirh the same skilled staff until 1945.
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