Ship Construction


The ship ELEANOR, one of two ships completed in 2012 by SEAPORT VESSELS for the Boston Tea Party Museum in Boston to represent one of three ships involved in the destruction of the East India tea by the
patriots on the night of December 16, 1773.


MR. POINDEXTER was the designer and contractor to simultaneously build two vessels for the BOSTON TEA PARTY MUSEUM to represent the tea ships BEAVER and ELEANOR, both completed in 2012. Both vessels were retired working hulls that Seaport Vessels dismantled nearly to their keels and reshaped and rebuilt as detailed period merchant ships of the late 18th century complete with period rigging, figureheads and deck features. Mr. Poindexter personally fitted out the fo’c’les, captains’ cabins and holds, appropriately “set decorated” with period bedding, furniture and artifacts to represent the living conditions of the captains and crews.

For more detail please see:


Boston Tea Party vessel, the brig BEAVER,
second of two ships built by SEAPORT VESSELS for the museum.


The hull of the BEAVER replica is over 100 years old. Originally built in Denmark as a Baltic cargo schooner in 1908 to be used for freighting and fishing the vessel was purchased in 1973 to be the centerpiece of the first event of the US Bicentennial, she was re-rigged as a brig and sailed to the U.S. to represent the Beaver in the first event of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration.


Having never been rebuilt, in 2004 the vessel was badly in need of a major overhaul. Mr. Poindexter took the opportunity to radically alter the look of the BEAVER to more closely resemble cargo vessels of the 1770’s. Hauled on the nation’s oldest marine railway in Gloucester, Massachusetts, this vessel has undergone extensive re-timbering and re-planking of the topsides and bow, replacement of the stem, deck, bulwarks, bowsprit, masts, yards and rigging. The bow was changed to include a full-headed rig with head rails and carved billethead.

Brig BEAVER on the ways at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center.

BEAVER’s bottom was refastened and the topsides and bulwarks were rebuilt as well

 as the decks, masts and rigging. The color scheme was changed from black to yellow ochre

 with a black whale, as was the custom of vessels of her time.


The hull of the new ELEANOR replica, was re-framed and re-planked with native white oak.

Trees selected by Mr. Poindexter were harvested and sawn under his supervision.

Planking was fastened with wooden pegs called trunnels.



Designed and built by SEAPORT VESSELS, The ELEANOR replica was constructed from a retired fishing dragger. Torn down nearly to the keel the vessel was re-framed, lengthened and widened. While no plans existed of the original Tea Party ships these representations were designed by Mr. Poindexter from his research of typical cargo and whaleships of the late 18th century.




The Ship ELEANOR is a re-creation of a second Tea Party ship. The original Eleanor, owned by a leading Boston merchant and commanded by a Tory sympathizer arrived in Boston on December 2, 1773.


No lines drawings existed of the original ELEANOR. Mr. Poindexter learned from the shipping papers that she was ship rigged and a “constant trader” therefore the design of the ELEANOR replica is based on colonial merchant vessels of the period.


The hull of the ELEANOR replica, was originally a 90-foot fishing vessel built in Thomaston, Maine in 1936 and fished out of Gloucester until she was retired in 2000 and donated to the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center. She was later sold to The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum and was hauled out to be rebuilt as the tea ship Eleanor. The original hull was stripped down to a few frames and planks in the aft quarter and down to the floor timbers and keelson in the bow. The vessel is now about 85% new construction. Some very substantial changes were made to transform this 20th century fishing vessel into an 18th century trading vessel. Reconstruction work included new sides, deck, stern and quarter galleries, bow and all rigging. (Even the shape of the hull was changed.)


The deck timbering with beams, carlins, and lodging knees is authentic to the period.

The original hull was stripped down to a few frames and planks in the aft quarter

and down to the floor timbers and keelson in the bow.



Ships knees were installed on every deck beam to stiffen the vessel as was done in the day.



Main hold looking forward shows the ceiling (inside planking) and large hanging

knees. Ballast was granite paving stones and gravel.

Bow section of the ELEANOR includes ornate head rails and a finely carved figurehead.

Fore deck of the Beaver features an anchor windlass and belfry.

ELEANOR’s quarter deck features the ship’s wheel, mizzenmast and pinrails.

More than 3 miles of cordage went into rigging each of the two ships. All period rope work, blocks, deadeyes and ironwork were manufactured by SEAPORT VESSELS.


Based on extensive research, SEAPORT VESSELS provides construction drawings and specifications

 as needed for all projects. Mr. Poindexter has more than 45 years experience in drafting and design.


Fo’c’le of the BEAVER with its rough bunks, where the ship’s crew lived, would be similar to the holds where the Irish emigrants lived in steerage of the famine ships.

The captain’s cabin of the ship ELEANOR was designed and set decorated with furniture and artifacts purchased by Mr. Poindexter. A letter found among the research described the captain’s quarters as opulent whereas the crew’s quarters were squalid.


Captain’s cabin of the BEAVER. Being a whale oil transport ship owned by a Quaker family of Nantucket Island, the space and furnishings are modest reflecting the Quaker society. 

Captain’s cabin of the BEAVER. A period writing desk and all furnishings and artifacts were researched and purchased by Mr. Poindexter.


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