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
From the saloon, you step up to the galley, nav station, small dinette, head, and a large quarter berth at the base of the companionway. This area is clearly designed for passagemaking, with strong, intuitively placed handholds and everything the on watch needs within arm's reach. Lion's Whelp has a true sea galley, enclosing the cook on three sides, with such thoughtful bluewater details as deep fiddles, a dedicated dish-draining area, and secure pantry storage. The freezer and refrigerator hold more than enough food for several months of cruising off the grid.
The boat's myriad systems are meticulously installed and hidden behind elegant cabinetry. As Joanna says, "Phin put 10 pounds in a five-pound sack."
There was considerable fanfare with three generations of the Sprague family on hand for the launch of Lion's Whelp on July 18, 2003. Phin Sprague Sr., a.k.a. Grampa Sprague, gave the toast: "We hope that this newest Lion's Whelp will safely carry her crew to their desired destinations, as did all of those boats bearing that name, starting with our ancestral ship, which brought our family to America in 1629, and followed by many namesakes. She will be carrying treasured friends and those whom we hold most dear, our family, some seasoned sailors, and many youthful sailors."
Since her launch, Lion's Whelp has carried friends and family many miles, mostly from Maine to Bermuda to Antigua and back; she participates in classic-yacht regattas both north and south. She was conceived as the vessel to carry various assemblages of Sprague family members on an ongoing circumnavigation, and the new generation of crew is learning the ropes during spring breaks and summer vacations.
At last year's Eggemoggin Reach Classic Yacht Regatta, I was fortunate to sail with several members of the family: Phin and his son, Eric, manned the helm and navigated; Abbot and his daughter, Coco, managed the foredeck crew. As Lion's Whelp ghosted majestically out of the mist into the sunshine on the homeward leg, Abbot strolled aft singing a rollicking sea chantey. Phin and Eric joined in heartily, and the three of them, dripping with fog and grinning ear to ear, sang out: A capital ship for an ocean trip / Was the Walloping Window Blind! / No gale that blew dismayed her crew / Or troubled the captain's mind. / So blow, ye winds, heigh-ho! / A-roving I will go!
This must be, I thought to myself, just what 13-year-old Phin had been dreaming of those many years ago.
Stacey Collins lives in South Portland, Maine. Her previous Yacht Style feature for Cruising World won a first-place award from Boating Writers International in 2007.