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Lecture by Warren Barker: "Pedigree, Provenance, and Program"

by Herreshoff Marine Museum 8 Jan 2018 11:55 PST

In the yacht restoration business it is an understatement to say there can be a great deal of interest in the pedigree of the boat to be restored.

Though the vessel may arrive looking more like a pancake than a runabout a glance at the engine or the paint behind the speedometer can set the Chris Craft aficionado into throws of ecstasy. The name Garwood can drive the recreation of a splendid mahogany speedboat from a mere pile of sticks. The loyalty of the Lawley fans can be limitless. L. Francis? - fanatical. And then there are the Herreshoffs of Bristol whose admirers seem never satisfied with "a" boat built by Herreshoff but "which" boat.

If the "which" becomes "that" through the presence of a small brass plate the floodgates open to the entire provenance of the vessel with model, drawings, dates, build time, cost, and owners; the rich fabric that makes up the vessel's story. However, as with the morning commute, there can be some murky times before getting underway if that key is missing and, with time or the boss, delay can be costly.

Quite a number of Herreshoff built boats have come through the restoration program at IYRS and, thankfully, have arrived complete with builder's plate and/or a definitive history that can send the team through the Herreshoff archives to help bring it back to its original T. Others are not quite so fortunate and we will touch on the run down the avenues of hearsay, legend, family remembrance, or perhaps newspaper clippings to find THE boat during the race to finish it. Finally, the construction of a twenty six foot launch of truly tantalizing but elusive pedigree will be discussed to illustrate how the Herreshoff legacy can step in to save your hide even when the trail runs cold.

Warren Barker, Senior Instructor of Boatbuilding and Restoration at IYRS, remarked to a friend at Williams College that after graduation he was going home to build a boat with his father. Little did he know that over thirty-five years later he would still be building boats. During that interval he took his degree from college and further training in furniture design and construction to Maine to enter the revitalized wooden boatbuilding field, to Rhode Island to build cold molded and composite boats for sail and power, and to Massachusetts to build custom boats with his own name on the letterhead.

Having taught at IYRS for well over a decade, he has realized what he saw as an opportunity to build or rebuild a myriad of boats by a multitude of designers while instilling in a new generation the passion and enthusiasm for the trade and its teachers that have carried him throughout his career.

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