You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Wheeler Yacht Company’ tag.

See the name on this black-hulled yacht?  Note the simple upper helm?

Check again as we pass.  I took these two photos back in July 2016, making that the Mt. Hope Bridge and beyond that, the Brayton Point cooling towers, now gone.  Pilar?  Maybe you’ve heard of it in relation to Hemingway and currently in Cuba.

Pilar was hull #576 from Wheeler Yacht Company, launched in 1934 and taken to Key West, not a water delivery until Miami.  April 5, 1934 was the day Hemingway himself went to Coney Island to order his new boat, a 38′ Wheeler Playmate.  That day is described well in this post.  If you want to read hundreds more pages about the boat and Hemingway, read this tome by Paul Hendrickson.  I read the 700-page book, hoping to learn more about Coney Island, but besides that, I learned the minutiae of all of Hemingway’s trips on the boat, which he last saw in 1960, when he was advised to leave Cuba and not long before his death.  Pilar is still in Cuba, one of two Wheeler boats there.  More on that at the end of this post.

The “Pilar” shown here was launched in 1933 as Elhanor, hull #527 and five feet shorter than Hemingway’s boat, a 38-footer that cost him just under $7500 in 1934.

Besides yachts, Wheeler on Coney Island Creek built vessels for the US Army, Navy, and Coast Guard.  They built over 200 patrol boats for the USCG, like the one below.  Click on the photo for more info. One is being restored in Seattle.   Howard Wheeler opened his shipyard on Coney Island Creek in 1910, but by 1950, this facility and another in Queens, were gone. 

Here’s the general location.

It’s a tidal waterway adjacent to the water portion of Gravesend  Bay.  I rowed up in and its many wrecks some years ago here and here. If you’ve never seen the yellow submarine aka Quester, here are photos. 

Let have a look at the Wheeler Shipyard then and now. The b/w photos are all from  Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection. That’s the Cropsey Avenue drawbridge open with a yacht coming through from the shipyard, looking from SW to NE.  For a closer up look at the photo below, click on the photo.

Beyond that bridge, this was the exterior of the shipyard in January 1944;  around a shipyard that builds wooden boats and ships, you’d expect to find lots of lumber.

And inside, you’d expect scenes of curved, clamped, and glued wood.

Here’s a photo I took of Cropsey Avenue Bridge, looking SE to NW, because it’s the shot I could get. Just off the left side of the photo is the Starbucks.   From my location, I then shot SW to NE

to where the buildings of the shipyard would have been.  Absolutely nothing of the yard remains.  To the left is a parking lot and supermarket;  to the right is a furniture store.

More info on Wheeler Coney Island can be found here. The other Wheeler boat in Cuba is Granma, the vessel that in 1956 took Fidel Castro and his fellows from Mexico to Cuba.  The captain of the vessel then was Norberto Collado Abreu, who had received US Congressional recognition for his service with the Cuban Navy in WW2. For a long read on the boat and Capt. Abreu, click here.

All photos othjerwise uncredited, WVD, who visted Hemingway’s Key West house here almost a decade ago.

And if you’re interested in buying a replica of the Wheeler 38, you can.  See here. More on the original Coney Island boat here.

A similar post on a marine service business (MSB) I did here not quite two months ago.

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