There are so many wonderful yarns about Charlie Barr, the legendary skipper who captured three America’s Cup victories. This one just turned up in a book I was reading that’s published by The History Press (my employer) over the weekend.
Morton F. Plant was a Branford, Connecticut native. A businessman, philanthropist, baseball team owner and the largest donor to the nascent Connecticut College for Women, Plant built his dream house in Groton, Connecticut. (It’s the particularly large one at the mouth of the Thames River, now University of Connecticut Avery Point’s campus.) Plant loved boats and racing yachts in particular. In 1903 he ordered four (4!) boats to be built by Nat Herreshoff.
One of his early Herreshoffs, Ingomar, a 127-foot schooner, was campaigned in Europe. Her success in the early 1900s was considered second only to America’s. During Kiel Race Week in 1904, Ingomar, with owner Plant aboard, was racing against Meteor, the German imperial yacht, with the Kaiser on board. As Ingomar was trying to overtake Meteor to starboard, Meteor failed to grant right-of-way. Plant instructed helmsman Barr to stay the course.
“By God Charlie, you’re the boy. I’ll give way to no man,” Plant declared. With just a few feet to spare, Meteor finally gave way. And the Kaiser later sent an apology to Plant.
I had never heard of Morton F. Plant, but after reading Morton F. Plant and the Connecticut Shoreline: Philanthropy in the Gilded Age by Gail B. McDonald, and learning all he did for people on the Connecticut Shoreline, I will look at many local landmarks differently. And I have another good Charlie Barr story for the stockpile.