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Beebe Collection at Mystic Seaport

The Capt. Robert P. Beebe Collection consists of plans and manuscript material from the personal collection of Robert Beebe. The vessel plans were a 1999 donation presented to Mystic Seaport by his widow, Linford Donovan Beebe. His daughter, Lucy Beebe Tobias, consequently donated her father’s manuscripts and photographic collection.

Steve Doherty, publisher of Voyaging Under Power in 1974, and a Beebe friend and crew, believed that the plans had enduring value and should be preserved. It was through his efforts that the plans arrived for preservation at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut.

Martin Tobias, the grandson of Captain Beebe, established The Martin and Alex Tobias Family Foundation, and generously awarded the Ships Plans Division $50,000, providing an internship to catalog the extensive collection.

Born in 1909, Beebe graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis with a degree in aeronautical engineering. He served in the U.S. Navy as a navy pilot, flight training officer, and navigation officer on board the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga during World War II. An amateur naval architect who designed, built and wrote, throughout his naval career, he dedicated himself to the profession full time upon his retirement from the Navy in 1961.

Beebe's earlier drawings were for traditional craft, particularly sharpies, canoes and kayaks. He became a pioneer in the design of power boats capable of cruising long distances on open and coastal waters; many of his design concepts are still in use by naval architects today. Beebe published extensively in Rudder, Yachting, and other maritime publications while still in active naval service. He later wrote Voyaging Under Power, published in 1974.

Beebe's earliest design work was destroyed during a Japanese attack against the USS Saratoga in 1944. The surviving plans collection includes 103 separate designs ranging in date from Design #9 dated 1946, to Design #158 believed to have been drawn circa 1987. The entire collection includes plans for 103 individual vessels designed by Beebe, as well as correspondence, clippings, plans he collected of other designers, slides and photographs.

Capt. Beebe—Bob to his friends—died in 1988. Through the efforts of his family and friends, his legacy in the field of marine design and development will now be preserved and remain available for research. The Capt. Robert P. Beebe Collection is housed in the Ships Plans Division of the G. W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport. For information, contact Ships Plans at 860-572-5360 or direct your e-mail inquiry to <shipsplans@mysticseaport.org>.

RELATED:

Beebe's famed Passagemaker Rescued

Before he died in 1988, Robert Beebe designed more than 150 vessels, none more famed than his 67th design which he built for himself and named Passagemaker.

A lasting legacy

Beebe laid down the principles for proper passagemakers that are still followed today

Passagemaker Tea

Let's toast Robert Beebe and the original Passagemaker!

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Beebe Collection at Mystic Seaport

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