He was born in Bergen County, New Jersey, and went to sea at an early age, but was then apprenticed to the shipbuilder Christian Bergh. When Bergh retired in 1833 (or 1835?), he left the business to his two sons, Westervelt, and Richard Carnley, and later Westervelt bought out the partners to become sole owner. Later he partered with a MacKay (not to be confused with Donald McKay) to form "Westervelt & MacKay", and still later with his sons Daniel and Aaron.
By 1856 he had retired.