Daytrip Destination: Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol, RI

An America's Cup sailboat graces  the museum grounds.
An America’s Cup sailboat graces the museum grounds.

If you’re seeking classic boats and a boatload of boating history, at a place where you can actually visit by boat, set a course for the Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame in Bristol, Rhode Island. The museum has a long pier and float where visitors can dock while they visit for a few hours. Transient mooring are also available. In either case, call ahead to let them know you’re coming.

Hundreds of half-models hang on the walls.
Hundreds of half-models hang on the walls.

Once ashore, a world of fascinating boating lore awaits! The museum is home to an incredible collection of wooden Herreshoff boats, all of them built at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, which occupied the site from the mid-1800s to the 1930s. Many fine examples of rare, restored wooden boats, from dinghies to yachts, are on display, many with intriguing backstories.

The museum is located on the site of the original Herreshoff Manufacturing Company
The museum is located on the site of the original Herreshoff Manufacturing Company.

Also featured is a replica of Nathanael Greene Herreshoff’s workshop, complete with the actual tools—lathes, files, planes— he used to create the models for his famous designs. The room is filled with hundreds of hand-carved half-models, as well as the original offset machine used to transfer each model’s measurements to blueprints for the full-scale boats produced in the factory.

But the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company produced more than boats; it also designed and built its own steam engines, boat parts and tooling, many of them considered revolutionary. These too are on display, including some of the original engines used to drive the factory machines. Some of them still work!

The Herreshoff Museum is also home to artifacts from the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, which honors the sailors, builders, designers and others who have made outstanding contributions to yachting’s most distinguished competition. Artifacts include spars, steering wheels, tank test model hulls, and special exhibits about the America’s Cup.

For more information:

Hundreds of half-models hang on the walls.
The Herreshoff factory designed and made many of its own sailing hardware.
An original engine used to drive the machine belts at the Herreshoff factory.
An original engine used to drive the machine belts at the Herreshoff factory.
Beautifully restored wooden boats abound at the museum.
Beautifully restored wooden boats abound at the museum.

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