A Sail Aboard “When and If”, the 80 foot owned by General George Patton

When the war is over, and if I live through it, Bea and I are going to sail her around the world.” Words from General George Patton, spoken in 1939, as he commissioned the beautiful 80-foot wooden schooner When and If.

Built in Wiscasset Maine in 1939, the “When and If” was nearly destroyed by a storm in 1990. The ship was re-launched in 1994 at Vineyard Haven in Martha’s Vineyard, and traveled around New England for 17 years. In 2012, the boat changed hands, and since then has been meticulously restored to her former glory.

The designer, John Alden, had made his name as a builder of elite racing schooners that retained all their beauty and style while constantly winning the premier ocean races of the time. The wooden schooner was a new idea: a yacht which would maintain all her classic beauty and hold her own in recreational racing whilst being sturdy, comfortable, safe and luxurious enough to take a family on the voyage of a lifetime.

Long after the General’s untimely death in 1945, When and If sails on. Maintained in impeccable condition, When And If remained in the Patton family until 1972 when the General’s nephew, Neal Ayer, made a gift of the vessel to the Landmark school in Prides Crossing, MA where she was the centrepiece of a sail training program for dyslexic children.

In a storm in November of 1990, When And If’s mooring line broke and she was driven onto the rocks. Although the damage was extensive, the structural integrity of the ship was unaffected. At that time, the schooner passed back into private ownership, and over the course of the next three years she was painstakingly rebuilt. In June of 1994 she was re-launched. Speaking on that occasion, renowned broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite praised both her wonderful strength as well as the great work of Shipwrights Gannon and Benjamin in Vineyard Haven, MA – the yard that brought her back to life.

Spending the next 17 years cruising the coast of the U.S. and occasionally racing in classic yacht regattas, the wooden schooner turned heads wherever she went.

Early in 2012 Doug Hazlitt, well known in yachting circles for his complete restoration of another famous Alden schooner, Malabar X, purchased the When And If with plans to return the vessel to its original and Bristol condition. 

Following an extensive 2-year restoration, the wooden schooner is back in all her glory!

Discover more about When and If.

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