Preview: Roaming in ROAMER

March 31, 2023

Avatar Maynard Bray

A rare glimpse of the Herreshoff family’s summer cruises aboard their steam yacht ROAMER

The 94-foot ROAMER was with the family for ten years, and 1903 was her second season having cruised to Maine her first year afloat. She’d been built of wood during the winter of 1901-02. A compact steeple-type, triple-expansion steam engine, also designed by N.G.H., pushed her along at 8 knots. Skinny and shallow, with a beam of less than a fifth her length and a draft of only 5 feet, she tended to roll in a beam sea, so N.G.H. gave her 890 square feet of sails divided between two masts to steady her as well as help push her along when the wind served. The log shows that sails were set frequently.

What took place during that fabulous summer shows up in N.G.H.’s own hand. ROAMER went on ten cruises, four of them west to New York and the rest in the opposite direction toward Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. The equivalent of 12-1/2 days of short runs occurred between cruises as well. In the 334 hours and 14 minutes underway at an average speed of 7.45 knots, ROAMER covered 2,486 miles in 1903, burning 47 tons of coal, according to N.G.H.’s last-page summary. Guests as well as family came onboard, so ROAMER and her four-man professional crew (mate, engineer, steward, and sailor) stayed busy from mid-May to near the end of October.

ROAMER alongside the pier at Love Rocks, N.G.H.’s family home, photographed by Captain Nat’s daughter Agnes; Image courtesy Herreshoff Marine Museum

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