The Pilot Boats of George Steers

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George Steers. Engraved by William G. Jackman and published by D. Appleton & Co. around 1870. (Accession# 1941.401.01/LE 1517)

Ever since man first set foot in a boat and headed out to sea there has been a need for pilots. Sailing in deep water is easy (as long as a storm doesn’t catch you!); navigating the shallower waters along coastlines and entering ports and rivers you aren’t familiar with is a lot more dangerous.

In mid-19th century New York the competition to provide pilotage services to an ever increasing volume of commercial traffic was fierce. Since the first pilot boat to reach an inbound vessel typically got the job the pilot’s need for a fast sailing boat was paramount. As this need increased some of the world’s most talented yacht designers and naval architects jumped into the fray and began designing some of the fastest schooners the world had ever seen.  One of these men, New York’s George Steers, ended up designing boats that changed the face of naval architecture forever.   Read more

Way Back Wednesdays

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1952 exhibition space

Our first picture this month shows an old exhibition in 1953.  I’m not sure what the theme of the exhibition might be, but there are a number of lighthouse lenses displayed as well as part of the cockpit seat from Yacht America, the first winner of the America’s Cup.  For any of those that keep track, USA continued to hold onto the cup again last year in a nail-biting race.  America was designed by George Steers of George Steers & Co. and built by William H. Brown in 1850/1851.

A life-saving display in our courtyard exhibition in 1939.  The two little life-cars are still on display, one in our International Small Craft Center and the other in Abandon Ship.  Life-car’s were used to rescue people when a ship was foundering close to shore.  A line would be attached from the shore to the ship and the car would be pulled to shore with the people in it.  The hanging breeches buoy is also on display in Abandon ship.   Read more