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Making Waves: The Old Boat And The Sea Hemingway’s Pilar To Star In Film

Photo Credit Gary Beckett

Recently, we had the privilege of seatrialing writer Ernest Hemingway’s 38-foot Wheeler Playmate fishing boat Pilar with Jim Moores, founder and president of wooden boat restoration firm Moores Marine. Well, it felt like it, anyway. In reality, we were aboard Elhanor, a 34-foot Playmate built by Wheeler Shipbuilding in Brooklyn, NY, the same year Pilar was built—1933. Moore’s Marine Yacht Center in Beaufort, NC, recently completed a six-month restoration of Elhanor that included replacing about 30 planks in her hull, re-wiring, re-plumbing and re-powering her, refreshing her interior and transforming her for an upcoming movie into Pilar, which Hemingway modified extensively for sportfishing.

“He had work done to it every year,” said Nate Smith, Moores Marine Yacht Center service manager, who oversaw the Elhanor project. The original Pilar, which is high and dry on Hemingway’s former farm in Cuba, featured one of the first sportfishing towers, a fighting chair and a transom roller for pulling marlin to the boat. There were no plans available to work from, Smith said. Instead, they took photos of both boats and had an artist superimpose Pilar’s silhouette onto Elhanor to form a template.

Driving from the new Pilar’s upper helm, we marveled at its gears, throttle and steering system, which Moores Marine also re-created from old pictures: Long pipes extend down from the tower to mechanically maneuver the systems at the lower helm below.

Moores Marine undertook this project for the producers of the upcoming film Hemingway & Fuentes: actor Andy Garcia and Edward Walson of Sunrider Productions. The film, which is about the friendship between the macho writer and his longtime Cuban sportfishing captain, Gregorio Fuentes, is scheduled to begin production in the Dominican Republic in January. Anthony Hopkins will play Hemingway, Garcia will portray Fuentes, and Elhanor will take the part of Pilar.

– Louisa Beckett

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2 Responses

  1. I’m very familiar with “Elhanor”! It was purchased from someone who’s been a good friend of mine for many years, it had been in his family for decades. He ran it extensively during the summers up here on Lake Ontario and it wasn’t easy for him to part with it. Been on it many times, nice to know it’s going to be preserved.

  2. Okay, this sounds like a dream. A movie with a great director and cast – then an awesome old boat! I have looked at images of Pilar many times on the web and was always saddened to see her up on the hard forever. This will give us all a chance to imagine her on the water once again. Looking forward to the release in 2015.

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