WIZARD – Herreshoff’s Fishers Island 31

The restoration of the Herreshoff designed and built Fishers Island 31 by boat builder Brion Rieff not only achieves a stunning level of craftsmanship, it returns one of the most graceful boats ever built to the Maine Coast for another lifetime.

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26 Responses So Far to “WIZARD – Herreshoff’s Fishers Island 31

  • Avatar

    Bill Theurkauf says:

    Just revised this great video after seeing that Wizard has now been donated to Maine Maritime Academy and is available for lease/purchase. Out of my league, but someone out there must be interested!

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    John Bukowsky says:

    Every night I dream about and pray for my cutter’s beautification. May she have the beauty and grace of a vessel portrayed on an OCH video. Wizard is another example of the goal. Your content sets a high bar for amateurs like me with only the knowledge I can skim off the top of the OCH cream. With few tools and fewer skills, my prayers persist, and without doubt you will continue to supply me with the aspiration to restore my precious cutter to a condition the OCH audience would celebrate. Many thanks for the dream building Maynard. Well done, as all OCH’s content is. Celebrating the beauty of boats… John

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    Russ Manheimer says:

    High art here. Maynard’s comment about being down below and every where you look is just so struck a chord. Thanks all.

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    edward mcmahon says:

    I love this video! The elegance of simplicity with the sirens calling – beautiful!

  • David Tew

    David Tew says:

    I guess the exchanges in the video were with Brion Rieff? Or perhaps it was the owner.

    A few years ago I ‘won’ a contest (how, I don’t recall) to sail on Kestrel, a FIS 31 owned by the Herreshoff Museum. I joined the captain and his crew in Osterville on Cape Cod to sail to Nantucket for that year’s Opera House Cup regatta. We started out in a squall, but the weather cleared and we charged across Nantucket Sound close hauled. The boat had a carbon fiber mast and double headsail rig at the time and she was a veritable rocketship. I wish I could post photos of the passage. Some time later Kestrel was sold to new owners who rerigged her with spruce spars. A Youtube shows her competing in a subsequent Opera House Cup regatta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2XqtUxbjjw

    On another topic, Maynard mentions that no other Herreshoff design of Wizard’s size may have completed a circumnavigation. Sidney Herreshoff designed a 44′ sloop that had a shape very much like the Newport 29s, another Alerion ‘descendant’. In the late seventies, Marluva was purchased and outfitted by a friend, Andy Burnes, and sailed around the world with his wife and, I believe, their toddler son. She became pregnant during the voyage, and they completed the circumnavigation in a year’s time starting and ending in Osterville. Marluva was damn fast and comfortable to boot.

    • David Tew

      David Tew says:

      Correction: The Burnes owned Marluva in the mid-seventies, and they competed in the Capetown to Rio Race in 1976. So their circumnavigation was east to west.

    • Avatar

      Maynard Bray says:

      Thanks for the interesting comments, Dave. Kestrel, when owned by the Tarbell family and kept in New Castle, NH, sailed the Bermuda Race (1966 or 1968) with aluminum spars and a masthead rig designed by Ted Hood. Oh, if these boats could talk!

      Marluva surely was an Alerion descendant and was launched as Comet in 1947 from Albert Lemos’s yard in Riverside, RI. She was built for Ike Merriman to replace his Newport 29 of the same name that was lost in the Hurricane of 1938. (Merriman later purchased the original Alerion and ended up donating her to Mystic Seaport.)

      • David Tew

        David Tew says:

        I didn’t know that about Comet being lost in the ’38 hurricane. How awful that must have been. Who were the owners of NGH’s Alerion before Ike Merriman?

        • Avatar

          Maynard Bray says:

          In the 105 years since her 1913 launching, Alerion III has had only five owners, Mystic Seaport having had her the longest—over half her life. N.G. Herreshoff sold Alerion to his neighbor, Carl B. Rockwell, Jr on September 2, 1928 for $1,500. Amory Skerry became her owner in 1934 and visited NGH that same year. Isaac B. Merriman, Jr. took ownership about 1947, kept her for 17 years, and donated her to Mystic Seaport in 1964. (Merriman also owned Burnt Island off Spruce Head Island in Maine where, I believe, he moored Alerion at times. He had Dave Foster install a new centerboard trunk and also gave her a new aluminum-sparred rig that Halsey Herreshoff designed. Fortunately, he kept and donated the original spars.)

          • David Tew

            David Tew says:

            Maynard-The fact that you know all that is simply amazing in its own right. Is the Dave Foster you mention the same one who was an instructor at the Apprenticeshop? Thanks!

  • Avatar

    Rick Gilkey says:

    I share Jim Hansen’s eloquently stated sentiments, thanks to all for this extraordinary film presentation — a superb holiday gift to all subscribers and it was indeed a great joy to go along for the ride. My compliments to all.

  • Avatar

    Philip Myer says:

    Wonderful boat, beautifully restored by Brion, great video Maynard- well done.

  • Avatar

    Chris Noto says:

    My, she’s beautiful, inside and out. Wonderful design, wonderfully executed, and wonderfully presented in the video. Many thanks.

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    Chad Brown says:

    I am sure the Wizard of Bristol is cracking a smile from above. What a beautiful restoration, and thank you all at OCH for the gift of another video.
    Merry Christmas to all!

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    Edward Hollister says:

    is there any Fisher Island 31 0n the west coast.pref southern California.

    • Avatar

      Warren Gammeter says:

      There is. Bagatelle Hull # 1154. See page 242 Herreshoff Americans Masterpieces.

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    Jim Hansen says:

    I am struck with awe. The boat itself so obviously the culmination of several generations of genius. The restoration, a relentless drive toward perfection, toward proper, in every detail. All those days, weeks, months of thought and sweat aimed at having that perfect sail. Everywhere you look, boat, water, sky, company: perfection. Literally pure pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me along!

  • Avatar

    Henrique van Deursen says:

    Fantastic lines, and when sailing you notice how swift she is, doesn’t move, very stable in all aspects, the she cut the water ….. without splashing or up and downs. Nice history.

  • Avatar

    Warren Gammeter says:

    Great Video! I look foreward to reading the log of her restoration. I crewed on Fortuna, hull #1055, a few summers in Milwaukee, WI. We sailed the 50th. Chicago Mackinac race with her in 1957. She was a wondeful boat to sail and steering this big boat with a tiller was fun.

Brion Rieff Boat Builder
76 Flye Point Rd
Brooklin, ME 04616
(207) 359-4455


You can also view further details of the restoration of WIZARD with Maynard Bray's 10-part series "Restoring a Herreshoff Fisher Island 31".

For those interested in her circumnavigation around the world, check out Part 6 - Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31: The Circumnavigation

Or, start at the beginning with Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 1 – Reframing Upside Down

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 2: Frames; Fastenings; Stem; Sheer Clamps—All Upside Down

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 3: The Transom

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 4: A New Keel Timber

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 5: Raised Panel Bulkheads

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 6: The Circumnavigation

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 7: The Deck

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 8: Cabin, Keel & Interior

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 9: Completion!

Restoring a Herreshoff Fishers Island 31, Part 10: Sailing


CIRRUS -- A Treasure from Herreshoff, A love affair for a lifetime by Alan Bemis. WoodenBoat Issue #34, May/June 1980, 42-48. (Don't miss the side-bar articles within this piece.)

Claas van der Linde's The Herreshoff Catalogue Raisonné

Herreshoff of Bristol: A Photographic History of America's Greatest Yacht and Boat Builders by Maynard Bray. Wooden Boat Publications, September 1, 1989.

Herreshoff: American Masterpieces by Maynard Bray. W. W. Norton & Company; November 22, 2016.


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