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The origin of the term "cigarette boat"

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The origin of the term "cigarette boat"

Old 11-19-2018, 02:27 PM
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Old 11-21-2018, 04:30 PM
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Default The legend of the rum-runner named Cigarette.

Originally Posted by topprop
I always thought it was from Gar Wood's boat called the Cigarette that Don watched from a lifeguard stand he sat in as a kid on Long Island?

https://www.woodenboat.com/register-...oats/cigarette
There's more than a little truth to your observation I believe. The legendary rum-runner by the name of Cigarette, operated by Vanny Higgins during the prohibition, is supposedly the boat Don named his boat company after. Brooklyn gangster Vanny Higgins' Cigarette was a larger commuter that was able to do about 50 mph and carry 600 cases of rum. But who built it in the 1920's? Gar Wood's best customer was no doubt Mr. Louis Gordon Hamersley of New York, a tobacco merchant tycoon and real estate developer from one of New York's oldest families. His first Gar Wood 'express cruiser'' was a 55' named Cigarette in 1920. In 1923 he stepped up to 70' also named Cigarette, which he ran for two years and then his wife asked him to sell it back to Gar Wood. Mr. Wood named her Gar Sr., kept her as his personal boat for many years, and that's the boat you are referring to. In 1925 Mr. Hamersley got a Gar Wood 33' that he raced as Cigarette Jr. He then also ordered a 50' Gar Wood commuter named Cigarette.

His most famous race boat was built in an aluminum alloy in 1926. It was a remarkable 35' boat and designed by Fredrick Lord and built by the automotive company Brewster & Co. of Long Island City. With her he won the President's Trophy in 1926 and she would be Hamersley's last race boat and named Cigarette IV. After the 1926 season Mr. Hamersley stopped racing runabouts and concentrated on sailing regattas. In 1936 Cigarette IV sold to Lake Tahoe and continued racing again. She's now restored since 2005, owned by The State of California and runs Lake Tahoe occasionally. Mr. Hamersley died only 49 years old in 1942 after a brief illness. Read about him and Cigarette IV in this link: Mr. Hamersley and his boats named Cigarette.

The rum-runner owned by gangster Vanny Higgins might have been Mr. Hammersley's 1920 55' commuter race boat, which had done 50 mph plus, but it may have been any other large high-speed commuter named with a nod of reverence to Hamersley's famous race boats, but I like to think it was the 1920 Gar Wood 55' since Higgins operated her in the 1920's and lost her around 1930 when she got seized by the authorities and then used by the Coast Guard. Higgins got whacked in 1932 and Don Aronow was born in 1927. In the oldest interview article I've found with Aronow on this matter, his response was that he had read about the legendary rum-runner Cigarette. Here's the one I'm wildly guessing she is in this link, (legends are best when not historical facts): 1920 55' commuter 'Cigarette' by Gar Wood.
P.S. Below are photos of Hamersley's 1923 70' commuter Cigarette by Gar Wood, later named Gar Sr. under Mr. Gar Wood's ownership from 1925, and of Hamersley's alu racer Cigarette IV in 1926 and 2005 as Mercury. The video is of Mercury on Lake Tahoe a few years after the resto. Footage best towards the end of the video. D.S.





Last edited by larslindroth; 11-22-2018 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 11-26-2018, 04:02 PM
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The Original Cigarette was purchased in New England in the 90's or so, cut in half and shipped to a shed at Hoffman's in Brielle NJ where it was restored by a man that lived on the Metedeconk River. It was docked at his house until his death and as far as I know is still owned by his son in law. Would often see it run up and down the Metedeconk River and was open for inspection at the Bay Head Antique Boat Show each year.
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Old 11-26-2018, 05:02 PM
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Default Cigarette was a popular name for a yacht.

Originally Posted by rcig
The Original Cigarette was purchased in New England in the 90's or so, cut in half and shipped to a shed at Hoffman's in Brielle NJ where it was restored by a man that lived on the Metedeconk River. It was docked at his house until his death and as far as I know is still owned by his son in law. Would often see it run up and down the Metedeconk River and was open for inspection at the Bay Head Antique Boat Show each year.
The 75' commuter yacht you are referring to was built at the Nevins yard in City Island NY and designed by John H. Wells in 1928. Wouldn't call her the original. One of the first yachts that went by the name of Cigarette was built for William H. Ames in 1905 by George Lawley of Boston. 126' length and 14' 6" beam. Top speed 22 knots. See photo below.

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Old 11-26-2018, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by larslindroth
The video is of Mercury on Lake Tahoe a few years after the resto. Footage best towards the end of the video. D.S.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14J8HElKYto




My buddy owns the boat the video you posted of Mercury, was shot from.
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Old 11-26-2018, 09:19 PM
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doesn't look like that one
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Old 11-27-2018, 03:40 PM
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Default Yachts named Cigarette.

Originally Posted by rcig
doesn't look like that one
No that's the 126' constructed in 1905 as mentioned. This is the John H. Wells designed 75' from 1928 you are referring to.

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Old 12-03-2018, 06:20 PM
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Thanks for all the information, what an amazing thread.
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:03 PM
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Here's a picture from the book "The King Of Thunderboat Row" Where Don is pointing to the boat "Cigarette" a rum runner he remembers from his childhood
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Old 12-04-2018, 01:00 AM
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Default Images from "The King of Thunderboat Row".

Thank You for posting it! Suspected that's where I saw the image of Don with the painting, but couldn't recall for sure or verify here in California. Haven't opened my copy of the fantastic book for about 10 years. It's in my family's cabin home in the Archipelago of Stockholm. The photos in the book of the Donzi 16's at Abercrombie & Fitch, 5th Avenue in 1965 were also another reminder of what a great marketing guy Aronow was.
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