The Caumsett Foundation

Dedicated to the conservation of

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve

  1. BulletNautical Diversions

By Dorothy Cappadona

Why was the shore of Long Island such a popular location for country estates in the “Gatsby Era”? One reason was the easily accessible nautical pleasures. Yacht clubs and racing abounded all around Long Island Sound, and they frequently challenged one another to races.

Locally, the Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club (CSHBC) was formally incorporated on April 19, 1921. Marshall Field was listed as co-owner with Mrs. Willis Wood of #13 Corisande, a Beach Club American Design Class boat. In 1964 he and his step-son Harry Phipps joined the ranks of Atlantic Class owners. They co-owned #44 Wry, Marshall Field and Walter K. Earle owned a third Atlantic #100 Pilgrim. His interest in sailing extended to a Lightning Class, #2128 that he co-owned with Mrs. John Lincoln. (Clearly, yahcting and racing were an abiding interest.) Here is a brief account of some of the events.


Built by Gar Wood, Inc. in Algonac, Michigan this (probably the first so-named) Corisande was a 50 foot cruiser powered by two liberty gas engines. Fifty feet in length with a beam of 10’3” and a 3’ draft, she was registered to Marshall Field III of New York. Gar Wood built vessels were considered to be the finest examples of the classic wooden boats from 1922 - 1947, the golden era of power boating. They represented the pinnacle of technology for their time.

A special release to the New York Times dated August 14, 1927, detailed a Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club One Design race over a six-mile course. Russell Leffingwell’s Cythia took first place. Mrs. Willis Wood “brought the Corisande through in a capable manner” to capture second place. It was also reported that Marshall Field, Jr. sailed Cats Paw, owned by George Brewster. Ladies captained and crewed in these races and juniors sailing family boats also competed.

Another second place finish was reported for the Corisande under Mrs. Wood on Sept. 29, 1929, when she was beaten by less than a minute. However, on August 25, Corisande was declared the winner after the Cynthia was disqualified in the Beach Club One Design Class 6 1/4 mile race. Col. Henry L. Stimson, the Secretary of State, enjoyed watching this, one of the closest races of the season.

Fast commuting and racing were only two of the sports enjoyed on the Corisande. Fishing was a third. On July 21, 1929, Marshall Field III arrived at Montauk from Oyster Bay, and anchored off the Montauk Yacht Club. From the Corisande, he caught a 600 lb. swordfish, a good size, but far below the record 1000 pounder. 

When Mr. & Mrs. Field returned home from Europe on the North German Lloyd liner, Bremen, on July 12, 1931, after a crossing of 4 days, 48 minutes, the Corisande was waiting for them at the Bremen’s Brooklyn pier. After being aboard the ocean liner with 837 other passengers their yacht must have seemed pretty small and empty.

The Atlantic Class

Competition between Long Island Sound yacht clubs like the Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club and Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club increased with the addition of the Atlantic class racing sloops to the clubs’ fleets. Built to a Starling Burgess’ design and constructed by a German firm, Abeking and Rasmussen, they first appeared on the Sound in 1929. With 385 square feet of sail, Atlantics were said to be “fast in light air, while the 2,200lb. lead keel and substantial overhang makes her stiff and able in heavy weather. Atlantics came equipped with a Club jib and single luff spinnaker,” according to the CSHBC history published in 1964.

In The Atlantic Class Association, 1930, brochure, author Clarence Lovejoy reported that Marshall Field of Cold Spring Harbor, was listed as the owner of Corisande II. He acquired the 65 foot Dingbar from Bernard Baruch and renamed it Corisande II. Alas, on July 26, 1930 in the three mile course of the weekly CSHBÇ race Corisande II came in eighth. On July 6, 1930, she earned a total of four points; the winner earned eleven points. With a Beach Club fleet of some 40 Atlantics in the 1960’s, racing on the Sound was a highly competitive sport. Although today the fleet is considerably diminished in size, the competition continues to be fierce and the skill of the Atlantic skippers and their crew admired by sailors of all ages.

Social Support

In addition to the conveniences and pleasure that the yacht and the Atlantics brought, Marshall Field III also lent them to the Federal government for some of its programs. After 1930, as the Great Depression deepened, it became incumbent on the socially responsible to encourage programs which helped to sustain the impoverished. One such program was “Fish Tuesday”. People had to be convinced that fish was abundant, cheap, and very nutritious. Fish was the idea substitute for the meat which so many could no longer afford. On May, 16, 1934, the Gertrude L. Thiebaud, of the Glouchester fishing fleet, left Boston. On May 20, NYC officials boarded her off Sands Point. They accompanied the fisherman and their 65,000 lb. catch to NYC, for the hungry populace.

Fall, 1941, the Coast Guard Reserve, sensing heightened tensions between the Axis Powers and the US, called for the voluntary donation of cruisers by citizens for government service. On November 30, 1941 (before Pearl Harbor) Clarence Lovejoy was again reporting. He highlighted the unexpected success of this request. Among the first donors was Marshall Field III, who gave his 65 foot Corisande II. During World War II, Field allowed the OSS to use his mansion at Caumsett, to monitor Long Island Sound for enemy submarines and other espionage systems. Accessibility to sea served many purposes.

Fifty feet in length with a beam of 10’3” and a 3’ draft, she was registered to Marshall Field III of New York. Gar Wood built vessels were considered to be the finest examples of the classic wooden boats from 1922 - 1947, the golden era of power boating.

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