Back to the Fu­ture

A sto­ried boat­builder re­launches as Wheeler Yacht Com­pany to bring a clas­sic fish­ing boat de­sign back to life. Pilar.

Yachts International - - On The Horizon - Wheel­ery­ bill­princey­acht­de­,

LOA: 39ft. 4in. (11.99m) LWL: 38ft. 9in. (11.81m) BEAM: 12ft. (3.66m) DRAFT: 2ft. 10in. (0.87m) DIS­PLACE­MENT: 20,600 lbs. POWER: 2 x Cum­mins QSB 6.7L

ZF Marine 220 A SPEED (max.): 23 knots RANGE: 400 nm

Ernest Hem­ing­way or­dered Pilar, a mod­i­fied 38-foot Play­mate model built by the Wheeler Ship­yard Cor­po­ra­tion, in 1934. Dur­ing the 30 years that fol­lowed, Pilar was said to have rid­den out four hur­ri­canes at sea, out-fished and out-per­formed most ves­sels in her class and pro­vided in­spi­ra­tion for sev­eral of Hem­ing­way’s cel­e­brated lit­er­ary works. Now, more than a half-cen­tury later, the builder’s brand is primed for a re­launch as the Wheeler Yacht Com­pany, be­gin­ning with the Wheeler Pilar 38—a mod­ern-day ver­sion of the orig­i­nal Wheeler Play­mate that Hem­ing­way loved so much.

While there has been on-and-off talk in re­cent years of this de­sign com­ing back to life, the news to­day is that de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing by Bill Prince Yacht De­sign are of­fi­cially com­plete. Slated for con­struc­tion at Brook­lin Boat Yard in Maine, the Wheeler Pilar 38 will be a spit­ting im­age of the orig­i­nal while sport­ing mod­ern ameni­ties and ad­her­ing to Amer­i­can Bureau of Ship­ping and U.S. Coast Guard stan­dards. Adding to the pro­ject’s his­tor­i­cal bear­ing, the buyer be­hind hull num­ber 1 is Wes Wheeler, great-grand­son of Howard Wheeler, who built the orig­i­nal

“Like the orig­i­nal, this is a wood boat,” Prince said. “But un­like the orig­i­nal, she’s cold-molded, mean­ing there are no planks and seams on the hull, and the wood-epoxy struc­ture is ex­tremely strong and light­weight. Ev­ery inch of the new Pilar has been re­verse-en­gi­neered to the high­est stan­dards, em­ploy­ing 21st-cen­tury tech­nol­ogy and pro­duc­tion tech­niques. Mod­ern diesels, air con­di­tion­ing and state-of-the art elec­tron­ics are all there, but are hid­den from view to en­hance the feel­ing of his­tor­i­cal au­then­tic­ity.”

Judg­ing by the ren­der­ing above, Papa Hem­ing­way would be proud.

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