America's Most Historic Yacht

The Shipwrights

Coronet is being restored by a team of shipwrights led by Jeff Rutherford.  The group currently consists of Eric Thesan from South Africa,

Leo Bronder-Giroux, most recently from Maine, and

Andy Chapman, a recent IYRS grad.

Jeff is the owner of Rutherford’s Boatshop in California.

He recently finished a restoration of the steam yacht, Cangarda.

You can see a video about her restoration here, and some excellent photos of her restoration here.

There have also been a number of other talented folks working on this project, including Chris, Klaes, and a veritable stream of folks from IYRS.

And lastly, not a Coronet shipwright at all, Tom Daniels writes this blog.

Tom is a boat carpenter currently working with the Mystic Seaport Museum.

46 Responses to “The Shipwrights”

  1. Gary Gillen says:


    Can you give us an update; I visited the Coronet last fall (2009) with Jeff Rutherford. I hope to return again soon to the Newport Area. I was involved in Bob McNeil’s other prize the Cangarda. I designed much of the propulsion automation on her. It was from Bob and Jeff that I first learned of this project. Just fascinated to see the progress.

    Gary Gillen

  2. admin says:

    Hey Gary,
    Sorry, I’ve been a blog slug. I’ve got tons of photos and hope to get them up very soon. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Tim Murray says:

    Tom, this is a fantastic site. Nice work making it accessible to non-technicals as well as others. So has anything been happening now that we’re into April? Importance of this restoration would be hard to overstate.

    Tim Murray, former Captain of Coronet

  4. Donan says:

    I will be in Connecticut next Xmas and will jump on the first occasion to see the shed (and what is in it) – any chance that you will be open?

  5. admin says:

    Hi Donan,
    If you can let me know specific dates I’ll talk with the crew and get back to you. Thanks for your interest!

  6. Nannette Poillon McCoy says:

    DELIGHTED TO SEE THE WORK! Looking forward to getting up to Newport to touch her and remember my great, great, grandfather, Cornelius Poillon!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for her care! Nannette Poillon McCoy

  7. Lisa Valente says:

    So very happy to see the Coronet being restored. Spent many weekends of my childhood aboard the Coronet when she was docked at Beacon Marine Basin in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

  8. Capt. Gordon Murray says:

    Having grown up with the Coronet , it is heartening to see our old lady getting well dressed! I was fortunate to be tasked with rigging her to sail in the 1960’s and will be down to see her this summer.

  9. Jennifer Panacopoulos says:

    I stumbled up one this site while researching the ship I grew up on. Recently my grandmother Della Peterson passed away, she was wife to grandpa Peterson the ships caretaker..I remember fondly being 6 years old finding all the secret passage ways while playing hide and seek with my brother and cousins who eventually found me hiding in the ships bow huddled in large coils of ropes. I loved the history even at a young age the red velvet seats with marble shell sinks inspired me. I often wondered if a princess live there before me, my mother would say she was the jewel of the sea coupled with hearing the parlor held crown molding I believed it to be true. The princess must have lived in the main sleeping cabin because it was the loveliest room in the whole ship next to the library its decor of rich green velvets and exotic wood carvings were hand picked just for her! We would sit in the parlor next to the Piano and hear story’s of how the Coronet sailed around cape horn in the dead of winter and survived many Gail force storms and perhaps a little stretch of the truth for the sake of children the adventure of high seas near attacks of pirates and mission trips to far lands. The stories always had the same theme the Coronet was the fastest ship on sails, clipping the water while safely delivering her passengers. I learned about knots..rigging..port-side and Starboard, sat many nights on watch with my grandfather in the boat house talking navigation but really we were watching out for pirates. At least that’s what I was doing! It is awesome to see what your doing with the ship from both a personal and historic perspective. I am Big fan of restoration currently working on my first home a historic Chaska MN brick circa 1875, love love love history! Thank you so much for making it possible for future generations to experience history in a authentic relevant way!!

  10. admin says:

    I’ll pass your note on to the crew. Thank you for taking the time to share your memories about your time on Coronet. Hopefully you’ll be able to come aboard her when she’s finished and enjoy some time travel.

  11. Jennifer Panacopoulos says:

    Will I get to crawl behind the state room bed walls again? Particularly the first one on the right coming down the main stair case.
    Ha! Well I will for sure plan a trip for that exciting moment! Thank you for sharing my comment with the crew.

    BTW, Why was there access behind the walls that ran through the rooms?? Is it the same principles as home building? Ventilation of the joist/roof line for air flow? But for buoyancy in this case? Was the original ship equipped with complex or simple plumbing? I knew of the sinks but can not recall how they worked. What materials were used and how was it connected/vented? Curious how turn of the century plumbing worked on a large ship…we had to use this pump toilet that was foot operated, would the ships movement prevent certain types of runs/connections and alter pipe pitches? Would a fresh water supply for this plumbing be necessary?

    I know your super busy so ill try not to ask so many questions and read more of the comments under the pictures, forgive me if these questions were addressed and I just haven’t got that far yet.

  12. admin says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Not sure about the access question since I wasn’t around when the interior was taken out, so alas, no insights there. Boat interiors are a compromise between the desires of the owners, the visions of the designers, the realities of the ship’s structure, and the needs for such mundane things things as storage and access. It’s always a good idea to have ventilation along the inside of the hull, usually between the frames. In the boats I’ve worked on, we always strive for unimpeded airflow along the interior of the hull to keep mold-inspiring dampness at bay. Even when there is a shelf at the top of the ceiling planks (the planks that go along the inside faces of the frames and form the walls of the boat interior), we try to have a small space between the top of the ceiling plank and the underside of the shelf to allow for air flow.

    I’m also not sure about the original plumbing. Often times sinks were simply wash basins with a drain that went to the toilet bowl and from there, out of the ship. My guess would be that plumbing was quite simple in that there might be a seawater inlet pipe to provide water for flushing, and an outlet pipe to the sea. Of course, on a boat, you have to include all manner of checks and valves to prevent the sea from rushing in through these same pipes, so the systems seem complex even if they take up a relatively small amount of space. There would be a fresh water tank for washing and drinking, usually operated by a small hand pump, but I doubt that the plumbing for this would be extensive. And of course, no need for wiring in 1885…

    As far as crawling behind the walls… I’d bet that the staterooms had vertical walls on all 4 sides to simulate being in a normal room. Since you’ve got a vertical wall next to a hull that’s curving, there will be some empty space in between the outer walls and the hull. These days we’d probably scoff at this as a waste of perfectly usable space and perhaps an attempt to deny that you are in fact on a boat, and not in a nice hotel room that happens to be bobbing about in the sea. Just a guess there.

    Thanks for taking the time to write and share your memories!


  13. Joanne Homer says:

    I just found this site. So wonderful to see work being done on this dear old ship.

    My grandparents, Amos and Eunice Anderson, used to be caretakers when the Coronet was docked at Gloucester, MA. (My grandmother is still alive and living in Dublin, NH, while my grandfather passed away a few years ago.) I remember going to visit as a small child and being completely enchanted by the ship. I loved the beautiful panelling and etched glass windows, and the narrow bunks in the bow and stern.

    My grandfather’s father, Ralph Anderson, and my grandmother’s father, Edward Miller, both sailed around the world together on the Coronet, as engineer and cook respectively.

    When I was a teenager, I visited the Coronet several more times. I have a picture of myself at age 13 playing the piano, one at maybe 18 standing with some friends on the rigging, and another at 19 or 20 sitting on the end of the bowsprit, on the day the ship was given to the IYRS. I used to love to climb up on the deckhouse and walk the booms all the way up to the foremast – no pictures of that.

    Someday I hope to see the Coronet again, restored to full glory. She was very old and tired when I knew her, and I never actually got to sail on her. I want to be able to show my daughter this beautiful ship that has been such a part of my family for so many generations. Thank you so much for all your work, keeping this amazing piece of history from slipping away from us as so many others have.

    Joanne Homer

  14. Carl Ring says:

    I came from Sweden to enjoy this fabulous restoration work on Coronet. Now I want Coronet to come to Sweden with all her beaded shipwrights onboard. I’ll cook!


  15. capt. Gordon Murray says:

    What a wonderful past for a man to have! I raised two boys on board the ship that my grandfather was mate of and sailed my father back from Jerusalem at age one. Newly married, I had the priviledge of rigging her to sail and holding the helm that so many famous people had before me, Thankfully the new owner has the means to restore her to the grand glory she rates. May she sail to future glory.

  16. paul austin says:

    If you ever decide to put the lines for Coronet on this blog, let me know. I’d like to build a model about 3 feet long. I can guess at the proportions of the sails but i’d like to make the hull authentic. Thanks for the awesome pictures. Saw the show on PBS.

  17. Jay Wiener says:

    Is the Coronet still in restoration and where is she in Newport, RI? I am a sailing history buff and would love to see her. I live in CT and would love to run up to see her.

  18. admin says:

    Absolutely! She’s still in process, planking is proceeding well. I should have pix of that up soon.

  19. John Dickey says:

    This is amazing! All these folks who sailed on, played on, visited and adore this vessel. What a thrill to even have a sliver of this historic masterpiece. Every time I place one of her planks on my 1925 Yates tables saw, I take a deep breath and make sure I’m using these finite remnants efficiently. It’s the most remarkable wood we have ever used. Thank you for the opportunity. John

  20. Virginia and John says:

    Just watched the show on PBS — fascinating! We are in awe of the work you are all doing and we learned a lot watching the show on PBS. Congrats and best wishes to you all!

  21. Jim Kulhanek says:

    Tell me more about Robert McNeil. What has he written? What was his profession(s) prior to co-producing and working on the Ultimate Restoration series show on public television; including his own yacht?
    I absolutely am in awe of the craftsmen and the craft

    Thank you,

  22. Brian says:

    Show on PBS??? What was the name of it? (so I can do search) Many shows are only shown locally.
    I’ve followed & visited the Coronet from when they dismantled the ‘original’. Awesome, fascinating and incredible. What a project. Huge undertaking. I wish they could have preserved the original. It had a certain ‘ghost ship’ kind of patina to it that only took about 125 years to produce.

  23. admin says:

    Hi Jim,
    Bob works out in California and is a passionate yachtsman. You can read about his work with the steam yacht CANGARDA here:

  24. mark waller says:

    Hi I caught the PBS doc,great the most beautiful lines I have seen on anything!,
    I have followed a designer called Maurice Adams a Brit who claims and shows a remodeling
    Of the Coronet in a book he published . I have a copy as I have a great deal of his furniture .
    Let me know if you had not heard of this or need a copy.
    I had a thought that he had made some of the drawings….
    Good luck with everything ,a couple of the photos in the program are people from the New York club I think
    Best Mark

  25. Tim Murray says:

    Just read through these messages tonight. Good to hear so many fond memories. I served and sailed her with my good friend Gordon Murray under my dad as Captain, later becoming Captain and sailing her myself in her last short rig.

    Re the “hidden passageways,” what Jen is referring to were probably the outboard lockers in the main cabin, two of which accessed the staterooms immediately forward on either side. (I know the former interior well, having grown up on board, age 12 to 18, and working on board nearly every summer thereafter.)

    As far as plumbing, Jen saw a pressurized hot & cold fresh water system that her grandfather (shipkeeper) installed in the early ’70’s. This operated two heads and the galley sink. When I lived aboard, there was no pressurized water, just one hand-operated cold-water pump in the galley. Original plumbing seems to have included hand -operated pumps in the main head and probably the forecastle head; possibly the master stateroom suite, too. Yes, Coronet has a history all right, and I’ve written it. Out of print by now, but possibly a million words.

    Tom– looking for an update on the blog! Ceiling is done, and I hear they’re installing the knees, hanging and lodging. Also liked your comment about leaving ventilation spaces. This was a careful detail of her original structure, and I expect it will be attended to in her restoration.

    Tim Murray

  26. paul covganka says:

    Do you have any idea how much money has been spent so far?
    will the masts be wood as well? What about the sails? thanks.

  27. admin says:

    Hi Paul,
    Not sure about the money, I don’t ask :). I imagine that the masts will be wood, but that’s a long way down the road.

  28. Dan Crafts says:

    Wondering when recent progress will be posted. Really like the site. Looking forward to updates.

  29. admin says:

    Hi Dan, sorry, work is currently paused, I’ll start posting again when it resumes.

  30. Wendy Morse Marchand says:

    My sister and I have fond memories of visiting the ship with Mr. Murray. We recently found a photo of us on the ship from around 1964. We would love to come for a visit to see the progress if that is possible.

    Wendy M

  31. admin says:

    Hi Wendy, I haven’t been up to the boat in a while, but last I looked the building was open to visitors along the elevated catwalk.

  32. James says:

    I noticed on June 2017 you posted a reply to Dan – “work is currently paused, I’ll start posting again when it resumes.” Since there haven’t been any new posts, can we assume that work is still ‘on pause’? Is this a monetary pause, or is the boatyard busy with other work, and any thoughts on when the project might resume? You spoiled us with the complete start-to-finish program about the CANGARDA. ‘Chomping at the bit’ to see how things work out. Great project, as were all of your other Restoration programs. Also, do you have any plans to do a follow up on the New Jersey Pipe Organ? Thank you for documenting and bringing to the world projects like these and the people who make them possible. Regards James W in MD

  33. admin says:

    Hi James, yes, still on hold for now. I don’t have details on when things will get going again (I just run the blog) but I know that the folks from Rutherford’s Boat Shop are eager to get moving. I’ll ask about the pipe organ next time I talk with Jeff.

  34. Ken says:

    Hey Tom,

    I hear work on the Coronet has restarted as of last week. Tom, can you give us any details?

    As for the Boardwalk Hall organ, it’s currently 25% restored, with planned completion by 2023. See

    The reality is neither the Coronet nor the Boardwalk Hall organ will ever be completed. It is the nature of wood boats and pipe organs that they will need continual maintenance. 🙂 But hopefully we get to see them operating at near completeness again in the not too distant future!

  35. admin says:

    Hi Ken,
    Thanks for writing. I appreciate the link to the organ site as well. No word yet on project start up, but I’ll post as soon as I hear. Best, Tom

  36. Wendy Morse Marchand says:

    Is there any news regarding the start up of the restoration?

  37. admin says:

    Hi Wendy (and everyone else waiting for an update!). Just posted an update from my visit to the boat in July. Will try to get up again soon, and I expect that the planking has progressed quite a bit. Best, Tom

  38. Larry Danielson says:

    Been following the restoration for a couple of years now. Just a suggestion about having more current pictures. Why not have people working on the boat email photos to you to post . Or if there is another site that posts pictures too, I could look there. Larry

  39. i would like to bring a friend to see the the wonderful ship the scooner yatch cocinet can you tell me info about how may i see tt

  40. Independentjvm says:

    European glory, and even after

  41. Peter Slack says:

    I was wondering if I could talk to tom by way of phone….I’m doing a piece on an old Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat…and one of the Shipwrights is also working on the Coronet!

  42. admin says:

    I just posted the launch update… at last!!

  43. admin says:

    She’s at Mystic Seaport Museum now!

  44. admin says:

    I just posted the launch update… at last!!

  45. admin says:

    Hi Peter, sorry we didn’t have time to chat, but you know, there was stuff going on…

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