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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

Hazlitt, a wealthy businessman and co-owner of his family’s vineyard and winery in upstate New York, has a passion for restoring classic vessels. But that’s getting ahead of the story. Just how Salzmann came to possess When and If is a tale of fortunate timing and persistence. 

As a teenager in Key West, he spent countless hours on the colorful Florida city’s waterfront, mostly messing around with boats and imagining the day he’d become a schooner captain. His father had moved the family, which included Salzmann and his younger brother Dylan, to Florida to operate a business selling boat charters.

During Salzmann’s senior year, his high school guidance counselors told him pursuing a career as a schooner captain was foolish and attempted to steer him down more conventional job paths.

“The school was so insistent, I wasn’t even allowed to take my senior exams unless I agreed with what they were telling me,” he said.  He ended up getting a GED certificate.

The Salzmann family gathers on the foredeck, from left, Seth, Arlo, Ollie and Jenny.
David Liscio photo 
Salzmann continued working aboard boats and learning everything he could about life at sea. He demonstrated natural ability at the helm of sailboats, particularly schooners. He crewed aboard tall ships in the Great Lakes and the Caribbean where he served as a charter captain at age 19. He toured Europe where some of the world’s finest vintage vessels are owned and sailed, wishing those built in the United States were still on home waters. It was an adventurous life that was about to get better.

Salzmann’s fate took an important turn when he met Hazlitt, who was restoring the famed ocean-racing schooner Malabar X, also designed by John Alden and built in 1930. Malabar X was badly damaged during Hurricane Bob in August 1991, her hull holed just off Greenport, Long Island, New York. Hazlitt acquired the boat in 1997 and began a massive restoration near his family’s Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards and Winery on Seneca Lake in upstate New York. 

Salzmann joined the Malabar X restoration under way at Cayuga Wooden Boat Works, an effort that would take nearly five years. He eventually became project manager and the schooner’s skipper. Hazlitt planned to run tourist cruises on the lake, but the Malabar X eventually made her way back to the sea and today sails the Mediterranean.

The Alden schooner makes her home port in Salem, Massachusetts, where the family offers day charters.
David Liscio photo


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