Lion's Whelp : A Ship to Take a Family A-Roving
A family launches an Alden schooner, fit and finished in Maine, to take them around the globe-again. From "Yachtstyle" in our August 2008 issue
When Portland Yacht Service's crew examined the hull, they found that it was in worse shape than they'd expected. Standing rainwater had ruined wooden floor frames and disintegrated mahogany plywood. Sounding the cold-molded outer hull revealed pockets of rot. In the end, the floors, the frames, the lower parts of the ribs, and all of the strip planking for a foot and a half above the keel were removed and replaced. After the interior had been epoxy-coated and vacuum-bagged, new floor frames, mast steps, and engine mounts were constructed of stainless steel. Between the ribs, Nida-Core was used to insulate the hull and to provide rigidity.
In order to test the livability of Phin's interior design, a full-scale mock-up was constructed of cheap plywood. The builder invited experienced voyaging sailors inside the galley and cabin mock-ups to perform the actions that they'd find themselves typically doing at sea. Their feedback? Phin's instincts were right, and only a few minor changes were made before the finish work began.
Meanwhile, the cockpit was being constructed off-site by the woodworkers at French & Webb, just up the coast in Belfast. When the boat's interior and decks were in place, the entire finished cockpit was hoisted up by crane and carefully rolled into place. Every bolt hole lined up perfectly, mute testament to the phenomenal craftsmanship at the Belfast shop.
Lion's Whelp is an elegant yacht with a stunning mahogany-paneled salon, yet she's truly a voyager first and foremost. There are no centerline queen berths, so de rigueur on modern yachts; in fact, there's only one true double berth, and it converts to a single sea berth when under way. Whelp's layout is comfortable but eminently seaworthy.
Forward is a huge sail locker finished to sleeping-cabin standards and including two single berths; if the bunks are needed for visitors in port, the schooner's extensive sail inventory will be stowed on deck. Aft is a head with a separate shower and the boat's sleeping cabin, with twin berths to port and a double and single to starboard. A sliding mahogany partition divides the cabin in two for more privacy, and a large butterfly hatch provides ventilation and light, adding to the feeling of openness for the crew.
Although elegantly finished, the main saloon is designed for family cruising and is full of well-conceived details. The port seatback, for example, folds to horizontal to become an extra sea berth; folded vertical, it becomes a wide screen for the projection DVD player installed in a paneled cabinet opposite. Phin recalls a stormy passage to Bermuda recently when he was struggling with the staysail while alone on deck. He looked down through the butterfly hatch and saw the rest of the crew-his children, brothers, nieces, and nephews-snuggled up watching Finding Nemo in the cozy cabin below.