(PRWEB) January 18, 2005
The legendary Howard Hughes had many personasÂ record-setting aviator, motion picture producer, billionaire tycoonÂ yachting enthusiast? ThatÂs right, according to John Bermingham, New York antiques dealer and current owner of ÂEleanorÂ, a 1939 Trumpy motoryacht which belonged to Hughes in the 1950Âs and kept at his ready in Miami, Florida for entertaining friends and clients.
The yacht was known as ÂVitaÂ when Hughes owned her and has had several name changes since, but besides the name, little else about "Eleanor" is different from the day she was launched in Camden, New Jersey over 64 years ago. The 71Â yacht is one of only 15 or so Trumpy motor yachts in existence from before World War II, and certainly one of the most faithfully maintained and restored, according to Bermingham. ÂThe staterooms have even retained their original twin-bunk arrangement and original mahogany furniture so often removed in remodeling projects. ItÂs a throwback to more modest timesÂ before mega-yachts and fiberglassÂ. The interior of the ÂsaloonÂ or deck-house is paneled in richly varnished mahogany, mounted with German-silver fittings shaped like seashells which pivot to allow a brass crank to roll each window up and down.
The feel of the boat is decidedly Â40ÂsÂ with slip-covered club chairs and custom built furniture all in a slightly ÂdecoÂ style. The yacht originally had a crew of three and there are "call-buttons" everywhere, mounted into walls and furniture to ensure that first class service was always within Hughes' reach.
A boat like this is not left to any boatyard to restore, which is why Bermingham has made the trip to Riviera Beach for ÂEleanorÂsÂ annual haul and refit. ÂThere is only one firm I would trust with a project like this", says Bermingham, Âand that is Moores Marine in Riviera Beach. ÂThey are the Trumpy specialists.Â Plans for "Eleanor" include the usual maintenance on the wood hull as well as special attention to the brightwork throughout the boat. ÂWith the success of the movie ÂThe AviatorÂ, I want her to look her best this yearÂ," says Bermingham. ÂI expect she will get more than the usual amount of attention, especially if she goes to the Palm Beach Boat Show in MarchÂ.
Owners of boats such as this know the importance of regular maintenance, since the smallest problem can quickly grow to monumental proportions if left unchecked. ÂEvery year one or two of these Âold ladiesÂ gets chopped up in a yard due to neglectÂ says Bermingham. ÂItÂs very sad and completely preventable.Â ÂWeÂve benefited by the maintenance done by previous owners and expect to pass 'Eleanor' along to the next owner in better shape than we found her with the help of Jim Moores. ItÂs like a sacred responsibility.Â
Little is known about the years which Hughes owned this antique gem. According to the book ÂTrumpyÂ by Robert Tolf, Hughes saw a listing for the vessel in a trade publication and purchased her immediately. The extent of his personal usage is not completely known due to the mysterious nature of the man, but at least one instance of Hughes traveling on board can be confirmed by Trumpy historian Jerry Foster who was in Ft. Lauderdale when Hughes took possession of the yacht.
Foster has kept track of every known Trumpy yacht for the last thirty or more years and has a special affinity for the boat builder John Trumpy, whose name was synonymous with the finest craftsmanship available in its day. The presidential yacht ÂSequoiaÂ was built by Trumpy, as were yachts owned by other celebrities such as Josephine Baker and John Wayne.
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