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1929 Herreshoff Fishers Island 31

Portsmouth, Rhode Island


There comes a time, for many people, perhaps even an epiphany, when they realize that the time has come to have something the really want, the way they want it, and for reasons of pure joy, pleasure, and appreciation of the fine ( and important) things in life.  

KESTREL, one of the famed Herreshoff Fishers Island 31's, most certainly represented one of those times for her current owner.  Once his father's boat, he brought her back into the family, and then lavished her with a total rebuild, without compromise, including updates to her interior and systems to make the boat more appealing to regular family use with children (and with a high regard and commitment to authenticity).  He also had a new rig built and put her into racing condition so that KESTREL could participate in the classic boat regattas, fully able to "strut her stuff" on the race course with ease and efficiency.

KESTREL is ready for the next owner to have a no-compromise boat ownership experience. She is currently in the water in Rhode Island and will be spending time in Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and the Elizabethans this summer.  She is totally ready and willing to go beyond those waters if you so desire.

Kestrel might be your perfect idea of a classic, historical day sailer.  She might be your racing steed ready to take on the elegant completion at the highest level.  She could be raced to Bermuda.  She could be the ultimate family cruiser enveloping her owners in style and grace.  Maybe you would like to take her to the judged boat shows for the maritime concours e'elegance.  Maybe you have dreamed of joining the classic vessel community on the Mediterranean - she is perfectly suited (and ready) for that calling.  Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta?  Check.  And....

KESTREL's story is intriguing, and compelling.  If you think you might be interested in jumping onto  the on-going history of this wonderful yacht, I encourage you to read through the details to acquire a sense of her past, and her present, and perhaps your future with this extraordinary vessel.

Listed for sale at a very reasonable asking price, KESTREL represents and excellent, and unique opportunity to obtain a top notch boat in top notch condition with top notch pedigree from original build to current day.  She needs nothing - and is an incredible value.  A once in a lifetime chance, perhaps, to own exactly the boat you want, to perfectly suit your aesthetic and functional needs, without the need to undergo a project, at a price that reflects the reality of the market.

Intrigued?  Interested?  Please give John Farmelo at Stonington Yacht Sales a call to discuss KESTREL further and to arrange an inspection.  If at all curious to learn more, I encourage your inquiry.

Basic Boat Info

Price: $295,000
Boat Name: KESTREL
Make: Herreshoff
Model: Fishers Island 31
Year: 1929
Condition: Used
Category: Sail
Construction: Wood
Keel Type: Full Keel


Length: 43 ft
Length Overall: 43'3 ft
Waterline Length: 31'6 ft
Beam: 10'8 ft
Max Draft: 6 ft
Min Draft: 6 ft
Displacement: 18,000 lb

Engines / Speed

Engines: 1
  • Make: Westerbeke
  • Model: 5MVXL01
  • Drive Type: Direct
  • Fuel: Diesel
  • Engine Power: 41hp
  • Type: Inboard
  • Propeller Type: 3 Blade, Bronze, Feathering
  • Engine Hours: 725


Water Tanks: 3
Water Tank Capacity: 200 gal


Heads Count: 1
Drive Type: Direct
Boat Class: Antique and Classics


John Farmelo
Stonington Yacht Sales


Stonington Yacht Sales
194 Water Street
Stonington, Connecticut, US, 06378
The Company offers the details of this vessel in good faith but cannot guarantee or warrant the accuracy of this information nor warrant the condition of the vessel. A buyer should instruct his agents, or his surveyors, to investigate such details as the buyer desires validated. This vessel is offered subject to prior sale, price change, or withdrawal without notice.



KESTREL (Herreshoff Hull # 1061) is a fully restored Herreshoff Fishers Island 31 (so noted as her waterline length is 31 feet).  While she was built in 1927, she was not delivered to her first owner until 1929, and there fore is considered, in the Herrshoff Manufacturing Company order book, to be a 1929 boat.  Her overall length is 43 feet 3 inches, her beam is 10 feet 8 inches, and she draws approximately 6 feet.

The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company built only 14 of the FI 31's, however they are widely recognized as one of the greatest ever all-round yacht designs, and important to Herreshoff history.  A sister ship. TORCH, is the featured exhibit in the Herreshoff Marine Museum.  FI 31's have been the subject of many writings, including featured articles in WoodenBoat, and are widely recognized as one of themes functional and beautiful of all Herreshoff designs.  

Kestrel is highly original.  She retains her original main cabin layout and an extraordinary amount of original detail, including all od the main cabin paneling d cabinetry, leaded glass doors, etc.  In the cockpit, she has the original Herreshoff binnacle and original compass.  On deck, she still has her two original skylights, all of her original hatches and opening cabin ports.

While all of this original detail has been preserved, KESTREL has been improved in many ways from her original construction, tweaks intended to maintain her historic integrity, but to provide even greater modern functionality while retaining the overall feel and experience of such a fine and important vessel. Her contemporary systems include a newer auxiliary diesel engine, a full climate control system, B&G instrumentation, new tanks,  a full lithium ion 12v battery system, etc.

KESTREL has had the benefit of two very significant restorations.  The first took place in the mid 1990's, let by the late Frank McCaffrey of Narragansett Shipwrights.  This was done under while KESTREL was owned by the current owner's father, who bought the boat from theTarbell family in 1993. The restoration involved replacing many frames, much of the deck, many planks, etc., as well as updating onboard systems for cruising.

The second major resoration took place in 2014 by the current owner, with all work overseen by Ted Chalk and including Mile McCaffery's team from narragansett Shipwrights.  Among other things, the boat received all new wooden spars, all new (but traditional) standing and running rigging, and much more.

Origins of the Fishers Island 31 Design

The Fishers Island 31 design is based directly in Captain Nat Herreshoff's famous boat, ALERION, now on display at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Ct.  The Alerion design is still built to this day.  The same half model was used for the Newport 29's and influenced other outstanding Herreshoff hollow -bow designs such as the Buzzards Bay 25.  Lines for the FI 31's were laid out by nat's son Sidney Herreshoff and resulted in an exceptional ly dry, comfortable boat with reasonable cruising accommodations.  Knowledgable commentator from Waldo Howland (whose first major brokerage project for Concordia consisted of the purchase and refitting of six FI 31's) to Maynard Bray have consistently praised the Fisher Island 31's as exceptional boats.  

KESTREL's sister ship, PATAPSCO II, completed a circumnavigation.  KESTREL her shelf, during her long and caring ownership by theTarbell family, completed most of the major northeast ocean races including Halifax and Bermuda.  KESTREL's sisters CIRRUS, re-rigged as a yawl by Joel White and Brooklin Boatyard for her then owner Alan Bemis, is featured in Benjamin Mendlowitz's acclaimed coffee table book, "Wooden Boats".

The Fishers Island 31 footer class dates back to 1926 (when Barklie Henry contracted the first one), but earlier designs are the basis for the class.  There has often been discussion as to whom the credit should be given for the design.  In a taped interview with Maynard Bray and Barry Thomas on October 15, 1975, Sidney Herrshoff spoke of the origins of the class the  discussing alterations to the Alerion III model (designed by Capt. Nat Herreshoff).  Sidney Herreshoff explained that the lines of the Fishers Island 31 's were derived from the the Newport 29 class, a keel version of SADIE, which was a 1914 improvement of the ALERION III.  

When asked whether the same model was used for the Fisher's Island 31's, Mr. Herreshoff responded, 'Yes, but the ends were doctored some in the overhangs both forward and aft.' He also added that the lead was further down, making the 31 a little deeper. To Thomas' remark that the Fisher's Island 31 profile was 'changed quite a bit. She's quite a bit longer on deck,' Mr. Herreshoff replied, 'The Fisher's Island 31 Footers were designed when my father was away. I was the one who laid down the boat.' The credit for the design must therefore be shared by the father and son team of Nat and Sid Herreshoff, with the lion's share of the credit going to the son." (Text in this paragraph accompanies display of Torch ex. Savage #1153, a Fishers Isalnd 31 Class yacht currently on Display at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, RI)

In her original marketing materials, Herreshoff described the Fishers Island 31 design thusly:

These boats are the result of years of careful study to develop a model which is exceptionally sturdy and seaworthy and dry in rough going, without sacrificing the element of speed which is so much to be desired in a sail boat. The forward section is sharp enough to prevent pounding under any condition, and is sufficiently flaring to prevent the boat from throwing water even when being driven hard to windward in rough weather. They are large enough to give head room and elbow room and plenty of storage space for cruising equipment and accommodation, and yet are rigged with a conservative sail plan so that one man can get the boat under way and put it up under any weather conditions without it being a hardship.

While every care and precaution has been taken to make these boats as able, seaworthy and pleasant handling as is possible under bad weather conditions, equal provision has been made to prevent loss of speed under sail. Their performances in the New York Yacht Club runs and in the 1929 Gibson Island race have clearly demonstrated theirability. 

History of Rig Changes on KESTREL

The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company files (now maintained by MIT Hart Nautcal Museum) contain a number of different rig designs for the FI 31. In the listing photos you can see one of the smaller sail plans found in the files.

At the time of the 1990 restoration, KESTREL was re-­‐rigged to a fractional sloop rig designed by Halsey Herreshoff, and based closely on one of the later HMC sail plans for the class.  This rig gives the boat slightly more sail than the earlier sail plans, which were deliberately slightly undersized. With this rig, she was setup for easy short handed sailing with a self-­‐tacking jib (as were the original FI 31s). Hall Spars built the new rig, and all spars, of carbon fiber. It was one of the early forays into use of carbon fiber technology.

During the 2014 restoration, the decision was made to return to a wood spar of Sitka spruce, of similar construction to this originally fabricated by Herrshoff.  The team of Mt Hope boatworks (HJim Titus) and East Passage Boatwrights (Seth Hagan & Carter Richardson) collaborated on the spar construction, with naval architecture by Matt Smith. KESTRELS current sail plan, and a drawing of her spar section (with a comparison the other carbon rig) appear in the photos section of this listing.  This new mast was designed to be light and strong, with eight staves of Sitka, and is only 34 lbs heavier than the carbon rig!  All new, traditional standing rigging was provided by Hall Spars.



The hull is framed in white oak.  The lead ballast in her full keel weighs approximately 4.5 tons.  She is single planked with yellow pine below the turn of the bilge, and double planked above that, with cedar or cypress inside and a douglas fir outer skin.  The shear strake is teak.  All fasteners are bronze screws. Her stem, keel and sternpost are all white oak. The deck is Indian teak, over varnished ash deck beams. The cockpit sole is teak.  The cabin house is teak, as are the hatches. The cabin house deck is canvas over pine.  Interior joinery is painted white with varnished mahogany trim.


Original salon layout and detailing is highly functional and absolutely lovely.  The engine room full height access is retained.  A review of detailed photos will tell the story best, but do note that the forward portion of the boat was highly improved (in this author's opinion) to include a more functional and enhanced galley, and a proper fee berth.

The entry doors to the head and to the galley/forpeak remain opposing on the forward bulkhead.  The settees are large and comfortable, and tiebacks swing up to create pilot berths.  Period lighting, Herreshoff latches, original leaded glass - new upholstery, and exceptional finishing make the interior an absolute joy,

The galley provides the convenience of a Force 10 3 burner propane stove with oven and broiler, a fridge/freezer with counter tops above, Stainbless steel sink with hot and cold fresh water faucet and separate sprayer.  The storage is extensive.  This is a very workable galley.


  • Jib (on jib boom), self tending, with battens, by North
  • Genoa, by North
  • Mainsail with 2 reef points, by North
  • Harken 46 Bronze, Self Tailing, 2 speed primary winches on Bronze pedestals
  • Harken 44 Bronze, Self Tailing, 2 speed, winch on Cabin top for Main sheet.
  • Harken 32 Bronze, Self Tailing, 2 speed winch on starboards cockpit coaming for self tending jib sheet
  • Harken 40 Bronze, Self Tailing, 2 speed, winch on Mast for Main Halyard.
  • Harken 40 Bronze, Self Tailing, 2 Speede, winch on mast for headsail halyards.
  • Mainsail traveller aft of cockpit with traveller controls led under deck and exiting at the forward end of the cockpit
  • Antal Mainsail track and slide system.
  • Running backstays
  • All blocks custom built for the boat, with KESTREL 1929 castings, and hand stitched leather block covers
  • Spars are Sitka Spruce, high-tech construction, 8 stave mast, internal running rigging on mast and booms



  • Two Litium Ion 4D house batteries  - Mastervolt 550 Ultra, 400 ah each, new 2020
  • One Mastervolt Group 31 AGM engine battery
  • Mastervolt control panel located in mechanical locker above engine room
  • Mastervolt 130 amp engine driven alternator
  • Mastervolt Charger/Inverter
  • Shore power with cord and 110v outlets.
  • 12 v outlets
  • Cruise Air Air conditioning (can run overnight powered by Lithium Ion House Batteries, free of shore power connection).


  • B&G Chartplotter on swing mount at companionway
  • Negus Compass in binnacle (both original)
  • ICOM IC-M506 VHF in electronics cabinet at forward end of starboard settee
  • ICOM Commandmic at companionway
  • Two B&G multi function instruments at forward end of cockpit.
  • One B&G multi function instrument in electronics cabinet
  • Fusion MS-IP700i stereo in electronics cabinet, interior speakers, and cockpit speakers which retract with the aft lazarette hatch.


  • 3 Bladed Bronze feathering Max Prop
  • Danforth anchor, chain and rode
  • Binnacle cover
  • Tiller cover
  • Hatch covers
  • Main Sail Cover
  • Jib Cover
  • Dodger
  • Flag Staff and Ensign
  • two propane tanks in dedicated locker.


The Company offers the details of this vessel in good faith but cannot guarantee or warrant the accuracy of this information nor warrant the condition of the vessel. A buyer should instruct his agents, or his surveyors, to investigate such details as the buyer desires validated. This vessel is offered subject to prior sale, price change, or withdrawal without notice.
Additional Contact Information

Stonington Yacht Sales represents high quality, distinctive vessels, and buyers and sellers who appreciate finely tuned services to meet their unique needs. Please call John Farmelo to learn more about this vessel and our comprehensive, and somewhat exclusive, brokerage services.

John C. Farmelo

Stonington Yacht Sales, LLC

at Dodson Boatyard, Stonington CT.




Disclaimer This calculator is intended solely for general informational purposes, and to provide a rough estimate based on the information you provide. You should not base your decision on this estimate alone.