The Wheeler Yacht Company was originally founded in 1910 by Wes Wheeler’s great-grandfather, Howard Wheeler. After many decades of success, the company closed down in 1965, but following an interesting series of events, the great-grandson has now revived the prestigious name of this classic company and is creating a new range of yachts that are inspired by the original Wheeler Playmate line.
Wheeler yachts were always known for their impressive quality, and within a few short years of operation the company had already garnered an enviable reputation in the United States. By the 1930’s, the company was selling its boats to discerning clientele who wanted nothing but the highest quality.
Of all of the yachts created by this company, the most famous is “Pilar”. Pilar is a Wheeler Playmate boat (the Playmate design was created by Howard’s son and by Wes’ grandfather), which was built for the famous author and journalist Ernest Hemingway. Ernest Hemingway was a keen sailor and fisherman and he spent much of his time on the sea. Pilar was his prized possession, and now the boat is one of the most important relics of his life. It can now be found at the Finca Vigia Hemingway Museum in Cuba – which is a site of much significance as it was both the author’s home and a base for hunting German U-Boats in WWII.
With a movie being made as a dedication to Hemingway’s life on the water, a replica of the original Pilar was needed. Wes Wheeler provided input for the design and finish of the boat, and was so inspired when he saw the completed replica in the water that he made the decision to design a new boat based on Pilar and the Wheeler Playmate design. As a tribute to the original boat, this new design will take the same name and will also include the unique additions and customisations that Hemingway made to his Playmate.
Wes Wheeler has stated that while the new boat will incorporate modern engineering and equipment, and will be more powerful, it will have the same style and essence as the original Pilar. He mentioned that the dimensions and the design of the boat do not need to change because his grandfather had things right with the original. The plan is to now introduce a commercial line of Pilar boats.
First to build a sedan cruiser and give it that name.
First to build a flying bridge with dual controls
First to install a dinette that converted to beds.
First to use a reduction gear engine.
First boat with a diesel engine in a boat show.
Queen of the NY Boat Show for 15 years in a row.
First to sponsor an in-the-water boat show at City Island, NY, in 1937