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Chasing a dream

2024 January 1

A sailor takes on a quest to restore the famous Alden Schooner When and If and sail her off into the sunset

Seth Salzmann was never a 9-to-5 guy living out an ordinary existence. His eyes were always on bigger dreams, like sailing around the world. These days, Salzmann is owner and captain of When and If, a 63-foot Alden schooner with a storied past, once owned by U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton. 

Ollie gives his dad some skippering advice.
David Liscio photo 
Patton commissioned naval architect John Alden to draw boat plans in 1938 after getting a taste of schooner sailing while on furlough in Hawaii. The black-hulled schooner was built by the shipwrights at F.F. Pendleton Boat Yard in Wiscasset, Maine, and launched in 1939.

Patton, who hailed from Hamilton, Massachusetts, briefly sailed his schooner off New England and as far south as Chesapeake Bay, until the outbreak of World War II brought him to Europe as commander of American military forces. The general, nicknamed Blood and Guts, often announced that he and his wife Bea would sail around the world “when the war is over, and if I live through it.” Unfortunately, the general was killed in Germany. 

While at the helm of When and If on a sail off the picturesque islands of Massachusetts’ North Shore, Salzmann, 39, said he has vowed to make Patton’s dream a reality. 

“The general’s dream was to sail When and If around the world, but it was unfulfilled. It’s the ship’s destiny to do that,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to make that happen. The charters we do will help pay for it.”

Since purchasing the boat in 2016, Salzmann has been raising funds by operating day charters and short trips out of Salem, Massachusetts, in summer and Key West, Florida, in winter. The schooner had never before been open to the public. 

Salzmann’s wife Jenny has been a partner in the venture and shares his enthusiasm. The couple met 10 years ago on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, where Salzmann was sailing and she was into organic farming and crafting jewelry at a Trellis Bay shop. They married seven years ago, nearly coinciding with Salzmann’s purchase of When and If from Doug Hazlitt.

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