HMCo #1266s Belisarius

S01266_Belisarius.jpg

Particulars

Construction_Record_Title.jpgName: Belisarius
Type: Aux. Yawl
Designed by: NGH
Contract: 1934-10
Launch: 1935-1-19
Construction: Semi composite (wooden planks, wooden frames incl. belt frames, some bronze floors)
LOA: 56' 2" (17.12m)
LWL: 40' (12.19m)
Beam: 14' (4.27m)
Draft: 5' 8" (1.73m)
Rig: Yawl
Sail Area: 1,466sq ft (136.2sq m)
Displ.: 46,400 lbs (21,047 kg)
Keel: yes
Centerboard: yes
Ballast: Lead
Built for: Rockwell, Charles B.
Amount: $39,100.00
Note(s) in HMCo Construction Record: Cost plus. Bills total $39,100.-
Current owner: Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol, RI (last reported 2018 at age 83)

Note(s): Vessel information is primarily but not exclusively from the HMCo Construction Record. Supplementary information when not cited here usually appears elsewhere in this record with a complete citation.
Sail area as per text on model.
Displacement (46,400lbs) from note on construction plan 75-70.


Model

Model #26

Model number: 26
Model location: H.M.M. Model Room East Wall

Vessels from this model:
1 built, modeled by NGH
#1266s Belisarius (1935, Extant)

Original text on model:
"Model for cruising yacht for Carl B. Rockwell to fit 2nd class of
the Cruising Club of America. Scale 1/2" per foot length oa 55ft wl 44ft beam 14'7"
Draft 5' 7" with cb about 12' Rig yawl sail area 1466 sq ft
BELISARIUS" (Source: Original handwritten annotation on model. Undated.)

Model Description:
"#1266 Belisarius, 55' loa keel/centerboard CCA cruising yawl of 1935. (This is NGH's last design, done 75 years after Sprite, the first Herreshoff design he was involved with.)" (Source: Bray, Maynard. 2004.)

Note: Vessels that appear in the records as not built, a cancelled contract, a study model, or as a model sailboat are listed but not counted in the list of vessels built from a model.


Offsets

Offset booklet number(s): HH.4.202

Offset booklet contents:
#1266, #1147 (lead keel) [40' w.l. yawl Belisarius, America's Cup contender Weetamoe].


Source: Hasselbalch, Kurt with Frances Overcash and Angela Reddin. Guide to The Haffenreffer-Herreshoff Collection. Francis Russell Hart Nautical Collections, MIT Museum, Cambridge, Mass., 1997, p. 32-43.

Raw Offset Info Database Entry

Microfilm Reel No. (Hart Nautical Offset Info): HAFH.4.9B
Box No. (Hart Nautical Offset Info): HAFH.4.9B
Acc. No. (Hart Nautical Offset Info): HH.4.202
Vessel Descr. (Hart Nautical Offset Info): #1266, #1147 (lead keel) [40' w.l. yawl Belisarius, America's Cup contender Weetamoe]

Text

Nathanael G. Herreshoff

"[Copyright-restricted content.]" (Source: Herreshoff, Nathanael G. Diary, 1934 to 1936. Manuscript (excerpts). Access courtesy of Halsey C. Herreshoff.)

"August 30 1934 {1934/08/30} N. G. HERRESHOFF BRISTOL, R. I. Dear Francis ... The design I have been working on for Carl Rockwell is somewhat of same type [as Tioga] but smaller, 55' o.a. [over all] 40' wl. [waterline] 14' beam, c.b. [centerboard] yawl. There is nothing definate yet. ... Your affect - Father." (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 10: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

"N. G. HERRESHOFF BRISTOL, R. I. October 29 1934. {1934/10/29} Dear Francis, ... I was pleased to have Carl Rockwell give the shop an order for a c.b. [centerboard] cruiser, and hope she will come out all right. ... Your affect Father." (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 10: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

"Nov. 20, 1934. {1934/11/20} N. G. HERRESHOFF BRISTOL, R. I. Dear Francis, ... The work at the shops is necessarily slow, at only 36 hours per week, and men dont appear to have the vim. I believe the Potter dinghys are about finished and one on Sid's design is underway. Carl Rockwell's boat is about ready for planking [p2] ... Your affect Father." (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 10: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

"N. G. HERRESHOFF 6 WALLEY STREET BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND Feb. 7. 1934 [sic, i.e. 1835]. Dear Francis, ... The last heard of Belisarius, - Monday she was held by ice, between Norfolk [Virginia] & Curritick Sd. [Currituck Sound, North Carolina] All well here. Hope to see you soon Your affect - Father." (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 10: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

"N. G. HERRESHOFF 6 WALLEY STREET BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND Feb. 21 1935 {1935/02/21} Dear Francis, ... 'Belisarius' was just a month getting to Miami due to ice and so missed the Miami-Nassau Race - There are good reports of behavior of the craft, during trip. Your affect -Father." (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 11: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

"July 9 1936
Dear Mr. Stephens -
... My final design, BELISARIUS, took in the Bermuda race, but it was made more for pleasure than for driving with idea to win. She is now back at her mooring with no signs of an ocean trip. ...
Sincerely yours,
Nathl. G. Herreshoff" (Source: Letter 23. From N. G. Herreshoff to W. P. Stephens, dated July 9, 1936. In: Herreshoff, Nathanael Greene and William Picard Stephens. "Their Last Letters 1930-1938." Annotated by John W. Streeter. Bristol, R. I., ca. 1999, p. 145-147.)

"N. G. HERRESHOFF 6 WALLEY STREET BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND September 5 1936. {1936/09/05} Dear Francis ... Carl Rockwell has invited Sidney to go with him today (in p.m.) in a long distance race of Bristol Y.C. to & around Montock lighted buoy & return. I have no use for night races. Belisarius won last Saturday in the Bristol Y.C. Annual, during a southerly rain storm ... Your affect -Father - (over) [p6] Later, -The racing fleet started for over night race at 2-30 p.m. in a light n.e. unsteady breeze. About 1/2 dozen craft, including Belisarius, a 10 rater, a new looking Stephens design of about 40 ft - a Fishers Is 32 ft & others" (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 12: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

"N. G. HERRESHOFF 6 WALLEY STREET BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND Sept 17, 1936. {1936/09/17} Dear Francis ... Belisarius won the Montauk race in her class, but being beaten by smaller class, - a 10 meter. She was probably foul, and her competitor, 'Hercelia', much fouler, for she should have beaten her, - being a fine looking new craft, I think Olin Stephen's design, and about the same size. ... Your affectionate Father." (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 12: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

"N. G. HERRESHOFF 6 WALLEY STREET BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND Nov. 9 - 1936 {1936/11/09} ans'd Nov. 11. {1936/11/11} Dear Francis, ... I had a talk with Carl Rockwell recently, and he said, in the day or two of rough going "Belisarius", was able to work out to windward of the best of fleet, only to run, into a calm area, while others to leeward before the wind shifted, ran in with a breeze - so loosing by ill luck. And after talking with others when in Bermuda he was convinced his was the best sea-boat. He was also hampered by much sea-sickness. ... Your affect -Father-" (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 12: Letter from N. G. Herreshoff to L. F. Herreshoff.)

L. Francis Herreshoff

"November 16, 1934. {1934/11/16} Dear Father: Thank you for you letter of November 12. {1934/11/12} ... I am quite surprised to hear how rapidly Karl Rockwell's boat is progressing and astonished that he should want her January first. Possibly he thinks for some reason it will be cheaper that way but I should prefer to have things done properly rather than quickly." (Source: Mystic Seaport Museum, L. Francis Herreshoff Collection, Box 17, Folder 10: Letter from L. F. Herreshoff to N. G. Herreshoff.)

"The last yacht of any size that Captain Nat designed was the auxiliary yawl 'Belisarius,' built in 1935 when Captain Nat was eighty-seven years old, and as he had modeled 'Violet' in 1864 this made a span of seventy-one years of yacht designing, and undoubtedly he had spent more years at the art than any one else." (Herreshoff, L. Francis. The Wizard of Bristol. The Life and Achievements of Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, together with An Account of Some of the Yachts he Designed. New York, 1953, p. 312.)

"To get back to 'Belisarius,' she was designed for Charles B. Rockwell, a neighbor of Captain Nat at Bristol, who as a young man had cruised on some of Mr. Herreshoff's steam yachts and was a close friend of the family. The 'Belisarius' was designed partly to fit the Cruising Club of America's measurement rule so she was modeled with somewhat of a clipper bow to reduce one of the length measurements. As her rig was inboard in the modern way without a bowsprit this left her stemhead or figurehead rather unprotected, so that her stemhead is somewhat larger than is compatible with grace in this type of bow. Otherwise she is a remarkably able and fast sailing yacht. She was particularly well built and expensive for she has several bronze floor timbers which support the frames abreast of the centerboard box, so she should have a very long life and always be a most desirable cruiser with her moderate draft of five feet eight inches, which is less than the usual ocean racer of her size. 'Belisarius' is fifty-two feet two inches O.A., forty-one feet W.L., fourteen feet beam. She has an auxiliary engine which drives her at good speed with unusual economy." (Source: Herreshoff, L. Francis. The Wizard of Bristol. The Life and Achievements of Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, together with An Account of Some of the Yachts he Designed. New York, 1953, p. 313.)

Other Contemporary Text Source(s)

"Nat Herreshoff has come out of retirement to design another yacht. It is a 40-foot waterline sloop for ocean racing and cruising and is being built at Bristol, R. I., for C. B. Rockwell." (Source: Anon. "Herreshoff Designs Craft." New York Times, December 25, 1934, p. 32.)

"[Report.]" (Source: The Rudder, March 1935, p. 57.)

Other Modern Text Source(s)

"1935. ... The first launching of the year was Jan. 19 [1935] when Charles B. Rockwell's auxiliary yawl Belisarius went down the ways at Herreshoff's. A week later the yacht left Bristol for Miami to sail in the Miami-to-Nassau race, but she got ice-bound somewhere in the Inland Waterway and reached Miami too late to start with the others. That did not prevent her from going to Nassau, however. ..." (Source: Davis, Jeff. Yachting in Narragansett Bay. Providence, 1946, p. 69.)

"... The boats that were in Coast Guard work are coming back to their owners, the last reports turned back are Commodore Charles B. Rockwell's auxiliary yawl Belisarius and Al. Stearns' schooner Mohawk. Both are at the Harris and Parsons yard at East Greenwich for overhaul and reconditioning. ..." (Source: Anon. "Loose Ends." Yachting Magazine, February 1944, p. 122.)

"Two families who belong to the 'we-want-to-go-alone' persuasion of sailing folk have made yachting news this winter. When last heard from they were fitting out for ambitious ocean projects. By this time both undoubtedly have realized the early stages of their aims.
The more extended cruising enterprise was being undertaken by Mr. und Mrs Stanley Woodward, Jr., former Philadelphians who have made Spain's Majorca their shore base for the last nine years. They planned a round-the- world voyage. If their arrival at a port happens to coincide with the start of a distance race, they will enter.
Their yacht is Belisarius, last of the 54-foot Herreshoff yawls. She was launched twenty-four years ago. The William Edgar John yard at Rye, N. Y., made her good as new for the world cruise, and in equipment better. It included new sails and rigging, a new Chrysler engine and a new electrical system. Like the Halvorsen's Quest, attention was paid the inner man. Both yachts received modern all-electric galleys. Belisarius was presented a deepfreeze as well as a refrigerator. Mrs. Woodward said just before Belisarius was ready to sail that the early part of the itinerary included a pause in Chesapeake Bay for additional supplies, then a passage through the Panama Canal to the Pacific. Three of the years will be spent in that ocean. With the couple will be two Spaniards who have worked for them since they settled in Majorca. The Woodwards have done considerable cruising already, although not on this grand scale. They have sailed all over the Mediterranean in an earlier 33-foot sloop. (Source: Rendel, John. "Ocean Voyagers." Rudder, 1959, vol. 75, [p. 18?].)

"Buckminster Fuller once said in an interview that sailing is the most peaceful of sports for, while a sailboat moves through the water like a plough across the earth, the hull leaves no scar nor does it change the ocean's surface.
Any introduction to a short piece on my recollections of my father, Charles B. Rockwell, and the BELISARIUS cannot avoid such sentiment for, after nautical historians consider her dimensions and study her logs, the most endearing thing about her is that she was a central part of CBR's family and our family's customs. Known to us affectionately as 'the Bella', she could be seen from our windows, first in Walker's Cove, where she could also be seen by her designer, Nathanael G. Herreshoff, and later moored off Point Pleasant Farm, where the first Herreshoff-designed boat had been launched. Graceful and seaworthy, the BELISARIUS was not only the culmination of NGH's extraordinary designing career but she was the ultimate mistress of my father's passion for sailing.
Surely each one of CBR's children have their own particular, and intimate, recollections of 'the Bella' and these stories shared were part of us: anecdotes about the Bermuda Races, in which all of my brothers crewed; other races in which CBR's "saltiest" friends, like Fred Thurber, Clifford Ashley, Jim Tillinghast, Arnie Gay, and many more crewed; a picture of my brother Charlie at the helm, outwitting a fog that turned back the Vinyard ferry boat in Woods Hole; Benny standing on the deck in rough weather, grinning; Paul padlocking a rented bicycle to a stay in Bermuda; the exhileration of always arriving under full sail in such tricky anchorages as Hadley's Harbor or Edgartown; in fact, CBR used the BELISARIUS's engine as seldom as possible for his experience was with wind, not motors.
There are many who remember the day in January 1935 when the BELISARIUS was launched at the foot of Burnside Street, a day when ice covered harbour, dock and rigging. This did not deter CBR, and several other Bristolians including Jack DeWolf, Woody Polleys and Tave LeClair, from sliding on their backsides down the gangplank and setting out in below freezing temperatures on the BELISARIUS's maiden cruise. This was not to be a 'shakedown' sail around Hog Island, which would have been more than enough for even 'frost-biters', of which CBR was a founding member, but was a journey that would take boat and crew into the winter Atlantic, down the Chesapeake Bay, where the BELISARIUS was temporarily immobilized by ice off Norfolk, through the Inland Waterway, and finally across the Gulf Stream to her anchorage in Nassau.
I believe this maiden journey was as much a test my father set for himself as he had set for the BELISARIUS. In subsequent years she met such challenges many times, surviving the great Hurricane of 1938, under sail in Bristol harbour, and the 1954 Hurricane 'Carol' in Cutty Hunk, with my brother Charlie and Willie Carstens the only experienced sailors on board. Her return to Bristol on the day after 'Carol' was triumphal, for she came up the Bay under full sail and serenely dropped anchor off Point Pleasant, where both CBR's dock and boathouse had been beaten into firewood along the beach.
CBR's respect for 'the Bella' was a lesson not lost on his family, for we knew that she was one of the loveliest, not to mention elegantly built, boats on the East Coast. Everything from her 'Herreshoff green' paint to her teak decks and brass fittings was unique and it was up to us to be at our very best while on board.
I sailed with my father on the BELISARIUS as far south as the Bahamas, and as far north as Jonesport, Maine. In between we all went more times than I can count to Block Island, Cutty Hunk, Edgartown and Nantucket. For more than two decades, with the exception of the WW II years, when 'the Bella' served in the U.S. Coast Guard, she sailed with various members of the family and many friends on summer and fall week-ends all around the Bay, and I think we all felt as much at home on the water as we did on land." (Source: Rockwell Edelstein, Eleanor. "Belisarius and Charles B. Rockwell" In: Herreshoff Marine Museum Chonicle, Spring 1980, p. 2.)

"Among all the recollections which I could share, my own fondest ones are of three widely separated cruises. These are typical of those enjoyed by my father, Charles B. Rockwell, aboard BELISARIUS.
The first was her second cruise, in the late winter of 1935, which took us from Nassau to Whale Cay, Frazier's Hog Cay, the Berry Islands, and back to Nassau. In Frazier's Hog Cay there was one other cruising boat, belonging to Gordon Prince. A member of that crew was tattooed from neck to wrists and waist with the design of a cable-knit sweater. This seemed pretty silly in the tropics, but not as mysterious as a piano being ferried in a dory from the mail boat to what appeared to be a deserted island. Even CBR couldn't explain that. The most enchanting memory of that cruise, however, is of the native pilot sitting astride the BELISARIUS' scrolled bow, calling out water depths in fathoms. In between coral heads he recited passages from The Tempest in his rich Bahamian accent and, although at that time I knew little of Shakespeare, it was clearly poetry and a new dimension to the language of sailing.
The second memorable cruise was Down East as far as Jonesport. On board were CBR, Mother, my brothers Charles and Paul, my sister Martha, myself, and Captain Willy Carstens. It was the summer of 1940, the last time that so many of the family would be together on the BELISARIUS until after the war. The kaleidescope of memories includes a plague of mosquitos at Small's Point; a Huck Finn of a boy who rowed out with an offer to pilot us into the harbor (and CBR's refusal of the offer just as we bumped not too gently over a submerged rock); daily bathing (it could not be called swimming) with a bar of soap; rigging the Dyer Dink every evening so that we could inspect the cruising fleets in each harbor; eating lobsters on the deck; and having the lovely beach at Roque Island entirely to ourselves. In Blue Hill we climbed to the forest look-out. Coming down we picked blueberies, which we put in CBR's favorite white duck-cloth hat that one of us had borrowed. By the time we reached "the Bella", the hat had been stained purple, which matched CBR's expression and inspired one of his rare shows of temper. It was impressive to see hat and blueberries dumped unceremoniously into the harbor.
In some ways the most "educational" cruise I took on the BELISARIUS was in 1947 with CBR, his friend Clarke Freeman and Clarke's niece Peggy. We set off in bright sunshine but by noon were muffled in the thickest fog I had ever seen. Between Point Judith and New Harbor, Block Island my post was at the wheel, blindly steering a compass course which CBR calmly dictated from the chart table below.
Then, at Shelter Island we joined the New York Yacht Club cruise and settled into the serious business of racing back to Block Island. The day had dawned hot and windless; the beautiful boats of the New-York Yacht Club floated helplessly on the calm Sound, inches from the starting line. And then, silently and inexplicably, the BELISARIUS picked up a whisper of breeze and like a ghost she went through the fleet and across the line, leading her sisters all day to the finish, even after the wind picked up. I recall CBR merely smiling like the Cheshire Cat when asked how he had found that little breeze, and it is my suspicion that he himself did not know. It was just another moment that binds a yachtsman so faithfully to his boat.
A sailboat does not leave a mark on the ocean, as a plough does on the earth. But sailors like CBR, I'm sure, always wear the imprint of days spent on board a beloved boat. Those who built her in Bristol and those of us who sailed on the BELISARIUS and see her sailing again now on Narragansett Bay, share that special feeling about a very special boat.
BELISARIUS --- built by Herreshoff Manufacturing Company 1935 LOA 56'2", LWL 40'0", Beam 14'0", Draft 5'8"." (Source: Edelstein, Eleanor Rockwell. "Belisarius And Charles B. Rockwell" In: Herreshoff Marine Museum Chonicle, Fall 1980, p. 4.)

"Museum acquires BELISARIUS:
The grand, old yawl returns to her Bristol birthplace
By Carlton J. Pinheiro (1/93)
Through the generous donation of Charles O. Read of Edgewood, RI, and his sister Mrs. Ruth Palmer of Mason's Island, CT, the Herreshoff Marine Museum has acquired the cruising yawl BELISARIUS. This final large yacht design of Nathanael G. Herreshoff is of special significance. Designed in 1934, BELISARIUS is the culmination of 75 years of experience in yacht design by the 87 year old NGH.
In the summer of 1934, NGH asked his friend and neighbor, Charles B. Rockwell, Jr., to call at 'Love Rocks,' NGH's home. 'Carl' Rockwell, a Bristol textile manufacturer, was an avid yachtsman, who had owned a number of Herreshoff designs, including ALERION III, once the personal yacht of NGH. Capt. Nat began the conversation by first stating that he felt like a foster parent to Carl, and that he had heard that Rockwell was without a boat that season, and wondered if he would care to see the latest model up in the third floor workroom. The model was exactly what Rockwell had been dreaming about, a cruising yacht with beam enough to stand up in rough weather, and shallow enough for cruising in the Bahamas.
Once the model was agreed upon, the two men sat down to discuss details. The yacht would have a concave stem profile with a scroll, and a hollow forward deckline to take the place of a bowsprit, giving the appearance of the 1890's bows of GLORIANA, PELICAN, and GANNET. Because she would be sailed winters in the warm, worm-infested waters of the South, she was to have a bronze watertight centerboard box with all frame and web members fastened to a bronze plate the length of the keel. Her hull was to be double planked, in the Herreshoff way, of mahogany and long leaf yellow pine, diagonally strapped between the planking and the frames with galvanized steel. The decks were to be of teak, and she was to be yawl rigged. At the conclusion of this discussion, Capt. Nat said, 'We have agreed on the sails and all the details of my last model, which I have wanted to be built for an ideal cruising boat. I will make the entire designs and give them to you as a present.' Carl Rockwell readily accepted.
The new yacht was assigned hull #1266. (Her original manufacturer's bronze hull plate is still displayed in the companionway.) The Shop yacht listing carried her specifications: LOA 56' 2", LWL 40'0", B 14'0", D 5'8" (board raised). Mr. Rockwell named the yacht for an early American square-rigged merchant man, BELISARIUS. An 1805 picture of this ship was placed in the salon of the yacht by Rockwell and can still be seen there. The square rigger had been designed by the designer of the USS CONSTITUTION, and the original BELISARIUS was reputed to be one of the fastest merchant ships of her time. Belisarius, from whom she took her name, was a legendary Byzantine general.
The paint scheme chosen (and maintained to this day) was white bottom, black boot-top, and green topsides. This unusual green was referred to as 'Herreshoff green' by the Rockwells, and 'Nathanael Green (e)' by the Reads.
BELISARIUS was built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in record time, and launched on January 19, 1935. Her launching was followed by one of the heaviest snow storms in years. Despite the snow, her masts were stepped on the 20th, her rigging completed on the 21st, sails bent on and a brief trial sail on the 22nd, provisions were put aboard on the 23rd, and with the temperature hovering below zero, and the gang-plank slippery with ice, the crew slid aboard on their backsides on the 24th.
On the morning of the 25th, with snow-covered decks and ice in the rigging, BELISARIUS set sail on her maiden cruise to the Bahamas. Some of the crew, including Bristolians Jack DeWolf, Tave Le Clair, and Woody Polleys, busied themselves adjusting the compass on the way to Newport. After stopping at Block Island to relieve the rigging of ice, they continued at sea for three days with temperatures below zero. Although temporarily immobilized by ice off Norfolk, Virginia, they eventually entered the Inland Waterway and made passage across the Gulf Stream to Nassau. On the way, the crew completed the interior painting.
That summer, she won her first race, an overnight Whalers' Race from New Bedford. In 1936, in accordance with NGH's instructions, BELISARIUS was deepened some 9" at the sternpost and rudder for better balance. In the 1936 Bermuda Race, she finished in the middle of the fleet in Class A. Over the years, the Rockwells cruised the 'BELLA' from the Exumas to Nova Scotia. She has raced twice to Bermuda, participated in countless offshore races, and has been the winner many times.
BELISARIUS was one of only two boats to ride out the great hurricane of September 21, 1938, in Bristol Harbor. The storm destroyed the Bristol waterfront.
In 1942, BELISARIUS was requisitioned by the United States Coast Guard for anti-submarine patrol. Her familiar green topsides were painted battleship gray, and she had CCR 2533 placed near her bow. In 1942 and 1943, she was kept at Martha's Vineyard, and off the Isle of Shoals in 1943 and 1944. After the war, she was returned to her original appearance and purpose.
In Hurricane Carol of 1954, Carl Rockwell's son and Bill Carstens rode out the storm under two anchors and power at Cuttyhunk. BELISARIUS was one of only three sailboats to survive out of about forty in the harbor. In later years, Capt. William Carstens, who crewed on the J-Boats in the 1930's, was in charge. Carl Rockwell sold his yacht in 1958, saying, 'I decided to sell her while she and I were still on good terms.'
Since that time, she has had only three owners: Stanley Woodward, who took her to Majorca, Spain and cruised her in the Mediterranean for a number of years, Martha Rockwell Millett, Carl's daughter, who sailed her out of Tortola in the Virgin Islands, and Charlie Read.
When Charlie first saw BELISARIUS, he was not yet 20 years old, but it was love at first sight. His dream of owning this yacht finally came true in 1974 in Florida, when he and his late wife Helen bought the green-hulled dream boat. Bringing the classic yacht back to Narragansett Bay fulfilled the dream. During their ownership, the Reads regularly cruised from Maine to the Bahamas and the Exumas. They regularly participated in Herreshoff Marine Museum Rendezvous, Mystic Seaport Museum Classic Yacht Parades, and Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regattas. In recent years, BELISARIUS has returned to her Bristol home mooring, and has graced the place of her birth, the Herreshoff Wharf, where Charlie is always ready to welcome visitors and graciously provides weekend sails.
Charlie Read is well recognized as a yachtsman and offshore racer. Since age six, he has raced Beetle Cats, Indians, S-Boats, and SORC yachts.
BELISARIUS is the visible symbol of the combination of magnificent craftsmanship and meticulous care by a succession of owners. Each spring, Charlie erases the effects of time, sun, weather, and salt water on the fifty-eight year old classic yacht.
BELISARIUS comes to the museum in mostly original condition. Her mainmast was replaced some years ago, and Charlie and his two sons carefully replaced the transom about ten years ago. Charlie's attention to historic preservation is evident throughout the yacht. For convenience, however, the Reads added a microwave oven and a refrigerator to the galley, and rightly so, for who can forget Helen's BELISARIUS cookies?
Through every ownership, the 'BELLA' became a central part of each family, and now she passes to the ownership of a larger museum family, this graceful and seaworthy yacht will certainly be the nucleus of the 'floating' Herreshoff Marine Museum. We will all benefit from being members of BELISARIUS' extended family.
In 1980, writing an article about her father, Charles B. Rockwell, and BELISARIUS, Eleanor Rockwell Edelstein concluded, 'A sailboat does not leave a mark on the ocean, as a plough does on the earth. But sailors like C.B. Rockwell, I'm sure, always wear the imprint of the days spent on a beloved boat. Those who built her in Bristol and those of us who sailed on the BELISARIUS and see her sailing again now in Narragansett Bay, share that special feeling about a special boat.'" (Source: Herreshoff Marine Museum Chronicle, 1994, p. 3-4.)

Maynard Bray

"In this, his last design, prepared in the fall of 1934 when he was eighty-seven, NGH created a thoroughly practical cruising boat, giving her his favorite yawl rig and fitting her with a centerboard so she could venture into one-fathom waters without grounding. Most distinctive at first glance are the concave stem profile and hollow forward deckline, which take the place of a bowsprit and give Belisarius's bow somewhat the same appearance as the bows of Gloriana [#411s], Pelican [#408s], and Gannet [#409s] of the 1890s... With Belisarius, NGH ended seventy-five years of designing.
Because she was to spend winters in warm, worm-infested southern waters, Belisarius --- named by owner Carl Rockwell for a swift-sailing, early American ship --- was given a riveted-bronze backbone and centerboard trunk along with bronze floors from mast step to stern post. Her topsides were double-planked in the Herreshoff Mfg. Co. custom, and the hull was diagonally strapped between the planking and frames with galvanized steel. Her hull was further stiffened by two pairs of steam-bent belt frames --- one at the mainmast and the other amidships --- installed after the ceiling was in place. Although structural bulkheads were becoming commonplace in sailing yachts built elsewhere, NGH stayed with the longstanding Herreshoff Mfg. Co. practice of having full-length, uninterrupted ceiling (inner planking) and light, joiner bulkheads and partitions that landed on it. Decks were of laid teak, and to compensate for the long trunk cabin and the lack of a bridge deck, Belisarius was given a 12-inch-wide oak structural shelf under the side decks.
Belisarius was rapidly built, compared to what we're used to today, and the building schedule was typical of the Herreshoff Mfg. Co. Launching took place [on January 19, 1935] and on January 25, Belisarius set out for a mid-winter shakedown cruise to Nassau. Her first race was early the following summer, when she took first place in the overnight Whalers Race out of New Bedford. In the Bermuda Race of 1936, in spite of being deepened aft and rigged with a larger headsails for better balance, she didn't fare quite as well, finishing middle-of-the-fleet in Class A.
Carl Rockwell, the Bristol neighbor to whom NGH had sold his green-painted Alerion III a few years before, adopted the same color scheme for his new boat: 'Nathanael green' topsides, black boottop, and white bottom. Belisarius still sails out of Narragansett Bay as of this writing, and her present owners, Charlie and Helen Read, still keep her painted green." (Source: Bray, Maynard and Carlton Pinheiro. Herreshoff of Bristol. Brooklin, Maine, 1989, p. 188.)

Further Reading

Images

Registers

1935 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#553)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Charles B. Rockwell; Port: Bristol; Port of Registry: Providence, R.I.
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig K-cb [Keel-Centerboard], TC [Trunk Cabin], Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 56-2; LWL 41-0; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-7
Sailmaker R&L [Ratsey&Lapthorn New York]; Sails made in [19]35; Sail Area 1413
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Gas Eng. 4 Cyc. 6 Cyl. 3 1/8 x 4 3/8; Maker Chrysler

1940 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#647)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Charles B. Rockwell; Port: Bristol; Port of Registry: Providence, R.I.
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig K-cb [Keel-Centerboard], TC [Trunk Cabin], Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 54-0; LWL 40-7; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-8
Sailmaker Ratsey-Wilson; Sails made in [19]38; Sail Area 1413
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Gas Eng. 4 Cyc. 6 Cyl. 3 1/8 x 4 3/8; Maker Chrysler

1947 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#590)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Charles B. Rockwell; Port: Bristol; Port of Registry: Providence, R.I.
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig K-cb [Keel-Centerboard], TC [Trunk Cabin], Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 54-0; LWL 40-7; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-8
Sailmaker Ratsey; Sails made in [19]38 & [19]41; Sail Area 1413
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Gas Eng. 4 Cyc. 6 Cyl. 3 1/8 x 4 3/8; Maker Chrysler

1950 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#643)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Charles B. Rockwell; Port: Bristol; Port of Registry: Providence, R.I.
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig K-cb [Keel-Centerboard], TC [Trunk Cabin], Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 54-0; LWL 40-7; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-8
Sailmaker Ratsey; Sails made in [19]41 & [19]48; Sail Area 1413
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Gas Eng. 4 Cyc. 6 Cyl. 3 1/8 x 4 3/8; Maker Chrysler

1955 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#708)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Charles B. Rockwell; Port: Bristol; Port of Registry: Providence, R.I.
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig K-cb [Keel-Centerboard], TC [Trunk Cabin], Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 54-0; LWL 40-7; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-8
Sailmaker Manchester; Sails made in [19]51; Sail Area 1413
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Gas Eng. 4 Cyc. 6 Cyl. 3 1/8 x 4 3/8; Maker Chrysler

1960 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#763)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Stanley Woodward, Jr.; Port: Washington, D.C.; Port of Registry: New York
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig K-cb [Keel-Centerboard], TC [Trunk Cabin], Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 54-0; LWL 40-7; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-8
Sailmaker Ratsey - Manchester Fairclough; Sails made in [19]56, [19]57, [19]59, [19]60; Sail Area 1444
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Gas Eng. 4 Cyc. 6 Cyl. 3 1/8 x 4 3/8. 1959. 50 HP; Maker Chrysler

1967 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#858)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Stanley Woodward, Jr.; Port: Washington, D. C.
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig K-cb [Keel-Centerboard], TC [Trunk Cabin], Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 54-0; LWL 40-7; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-8
Sailmaker Ratsey-Manchester-Fairclough; Sails made in [19]56, [19]57, [19]59, [19]60; Sail Area 1444
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Gas Eng. 4 Cyc. 6 Cyl. 3 1/8 x 4 3/8. 1959; Maker Chrysler

1970 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#918)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Stephen C. Miller; Port: Bristol; Port of Registry: Providence, R.I.
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig K-cb [Keel-Centerboard], TC [Trunk Cabin], Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 54-0; LWL 40-7; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-8
Sailmaker Ratsey-Manchester-Fairclough; Sails made in [19]56, [19]57, [19]59, [19]60; Sail Area 1444
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Gas Eng. 4 Cyc. 6 Cyl. 3 1/8 x 4 3/8. 1959. 50 HP.; Maker Chrysler

1975 Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (#738)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Charles O. Read; Port: Bristol; Port of Registry: Providence, R.I.
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig Aux Ywl
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; LOA 54-0; LWL 40-7; Extr. Beam 14-0; Depth 5-3; Draught 5-8
Sailmaker Cranfield; Sails made in [19]72; Sail Area 1444
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Oil Engine 4 Cy. [19]70. 85hp; Maker Perkins

1984 Yacht Owners Register (#070.3)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Read, Charles O.; Port: Bristol, RI
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood; Type & Rig Aux. Yawl
LOA 56.0; Extr. Beam 14.0; Draught 6.0
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer Nathanael G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine Diesel. 85hp
Note: Sail No. A9

1998 Stars Register of Yachts (#329.6)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Charles O. Read; Port: Bristol
Building Material Wood; Type & Rig Yawl
LOA 56-2; LWL 41-0; Extr. Beam 14-0; Draught 5-7
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N. G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol, R.I.; Built when 1935
Engine 62hp

1999-2000 Register of Wooden Boats (#047.8)
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Herreshoff Marine Museum; Port: Bristol, RI
Official no. 233644; Type & Rig K/CB yawl
LOA 56-2; LWL 40-11; Extr. Beam 14-0; Draught 5-7
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N.G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol RI; Built when 1935
Note: Sail No. A 9. Owner address: P.O. Box 450, Bristol, RI 02809

2007 WoodenBoat Register
Name: Belisarius
Owner: Herreshoff Marine Museum; Port: Bristol, RI ; Port of Registry: Bristol, RI
Official no. 233644; Type & Rig K/CB yawl
LOA 56-2; LWL 40-11; Extr. Beam 14-0; Draught 5-7
Builder Herreshoff Mfg. Co.; Designer N.G. Herreshoff; Built where Bristol RI; Built when 1935
Note: Sail No. A 9

2010 USCG
Name: Belisarius
Owner: [Previous Owner: Charles O Read]
Official no. 233644; Building Material Wood
Tons Gross 20; Tons Net 15; Reg. Length 46.5; Extr. Beam 14; Depth 5.3
Note: Call Sign: WL4573. Service: Recreational. Note: Data Found In Historical Database No Longer In Documentation.

Source: Various Yacht Lists and Registers. For complete biographical information see the Herreshoff Catalogue Raisonné under Data Sources. Note that this section shows only snapshots in time and should not be considered a provenance, although it can help creating one.

Supplement

From the 1920 and earlier HMCo Index Cards at the MIT Museum
  • Note: The vessel index cards comprise two sets of a total of some 3200 cards about vessels built by HMCo, with dimensions and information regarding drawings, later or former vessel names, and owners. They were compiled from HMCo's early days until 1920 and added to in later decades, apparently by Hart Nautical curator William A. Baker and his successors. While HMCo seems to have used only one set of index cards, all sorted by name and, where no name was available, by number, later users at MIT apparently divided them into two sets of cards, one sorted by vessel name, the other by vessel number and greatly expanded the number of cards. Original HMCo cards are usually lined and almost always punched with a hole at bottom center while later cards usually have no hole, are unlined, and often carry substantially less information. All cards are held by the Francis Russell Hart Nautical Collections of the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Mass.
From the 1930s L. Francis Herreshoff Index Cards at the Herreshoff Marine Museum
  • Note: The L. Francis Herreshoff index cards comprise a set of some 1200 cards about vessels built by HMCo, with dimensions and / or ownership information. Apparently compiled in the early 1930s, for later HMCo-built boats like the Fishers Island 23s or the Northeast Harbor 30s are not included. Added to in later decades, apparently by L. F. Herreshoff as well as his long-time secretary Muriel Vaughn and others. Also 46 cards of L. F. Herreshoff-designed vessels. The original set of index cards is held by the Herreshoff Marine Museum and permission to display is gratefully acknowledged.
From the 1953 HMCo Owner's List by L. Francis Herreshoff

Name: Belisarius
Type: 41' aux. yawl
Owner: Charles B. Rockwell
Year: 1935
Row No.: 80

Source: Herreshoff, L. Francis. "Partial List of Herreshoff-Built Boats." In: Herreshoff, L. Francis. Capt. Nat Herreshoff. The Wizard of Bristol. New York, 1953, p. 325-343.

From the 2000 (ca.) Transcription of the HMCo Construction Record by Vermilya/Bray

Year: 1934
E/P/S: S
No.: 1266
Name: Belisarius
OA: 56' 2"
LW: 40'
B: 14'
D: 5' 8"
Rig: Yawl
K: y
CB: y
Ballast: Lead
Amount: Cost plus
Notes Constr. Record: (Bills total $39,100)
Last Name: Rockwell
First Name: C. B.

Source: Vermilya, Peter and Maynard Bray. "Transcription of the HMCo. Construction Record." Unpublished database, ca. 2000.

Note: The transcription of the HMCo Construction Record by Peter Vermilya and Maynard Bray was performed independently (and earlier) than that by Claas van der Linde. A comparison of the two transcriptions can be particularly useful in those many cases where the handwriting in the Construction Record is difficult to decipher.

Link to the Herreshoff Registry

The Herreshoff Registry can be particularly useful for researching the provenance of Herreshoff-built sailing vessels. Permission to link to the Registry is gratefully acknowledged!

Research Note(s)

"The contract for Belisarius was awarded in October 1934 according to a letter dated October 29, 1934 from NGH to his son L. Francis." (Source: van der Linde, Claas. April 2, 2013.)

"Donated in 1992 by Charles O. Read & Ruth R. Palmer to the Herreshoff Marine Museum." (Source: van der Linde, Claas. March 8, 2012.)

Note: Research notes contain information about a vessel that is often random and unedited but has been deemed useful for future research.

Note

Copyright considerations prevented the reproduction of some text and/or images. If you have a valid research interest and do not have access to the cited original source(s), you may contact us by using the link below for assistance in obtaining more complete information.

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Herreshoff Catalogue Raisonné.
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Citation: HMCo #1266s Belisarius. Herreshoff Catalogue Raisonné. http://herreshoff.info/Docs/S01266_Belisarius.htm.