As Sag Harbor’s classic sailing yacht, Lelanta has graced the waters of Long Island’s east end for nearly 30 years. Her story began in 1929 on the drafting tables of renowned navel architect, John G. Alden, and as one would imagine, the cast of characters over the ensuing 89 years wrote the chapters of a colorful and charming book. This history, her exquisite interior and spacious decks (80’ LOA) combine to transport guest to a bygone era.
Simpler times… aboard Lelanta, experience sailing the way it’s supposed to be.
If old vessels could talk, many would have some fascinating tales to tell. The Lelanta yacht is one of those we wish could speak about her various adventures.
1930: Lelanta is Launched
Lelanta, Alden number 448, was designed in 1929 for Ralph St. L. Peverley, an American living near Liverpool, England. Measuring 65’6’’, by 46’6’’, by 14’7’’, by 9’3’’, she was built of steel by G. de Vries Lentsch at Amsterdam, Holland. Although the schooner was built for the 1931 Fastnet Race, she was completed in time for the 1930 Fastnet. Unfortunately, the untuned vessel encountered a heavy gale and withdrew from the race, along with half of the fleet. In 1938, Peverley ordered a larger version of the vessel, Lelanta II, his third Alden schooner. Other than being a few feet longer, she was identical to the first in nearly every regard. The original was sold to an Englishman who in turn sold her soon after WWII to Gwenn-Aël Bolloré of Finistere, France.
1946-1965: A French Aristocrat
In 1946, Lelanta resurfaced as Linotte III under the ownership of Gwenn-Aël Bolloré. One of the most colorful characters of his time, Bolloré is best known as the magnate of Bolloré Cigarette papers. With his captain, Raymond Javry, the two sailed throughout Europe and the Arctic, many of their sailing trips lasting for months. He later married his sweetheart, a French actress by the name of Renee Cosima. Together, with Linotte III as their research vessel and Gwenn-Aël’s knowledge of marine life, they made videos on a variety of subjects including the elusive Coelacanth (a fish considered to be a “living fossil”). This developed into more filming aboard Linotte III and eventually produced the 1959 adventure film ‘Les Naufrageurs’, starring his wife Renee. Roselyne Javry, the daughter of Captain Javry, has recently published a fine book documenting these and many other adventures. It is aptly titled, “Deux hommes et un bateau”.
1966-1972: Caribbean Charters
In 1965, Linotte III was purchased by Jan Iserbyt who renamed her Lelanta. Iserbyt quickly fell in love with the schooner, and sailed her across the Atlantic for the first time. He admired the boats dependability and her forgiving nature. He recalls that she was easy to sail, fast enough to suit, and above all, seaworthy. Iserbyt also stated that Lelanta was a simple boat, and this was the key to her dependability. Once across the Atlantic, she was put into the charter trade making her one of the first boats to be offered for charter in the Caribbean. Many fine stories emerged her this period. In 1972, Iserbyt sold Lelanta to Johnathan McLean of Virginia. It was here that Lelanta underwent a thorough refit and was converted from gaff rigged to a staysail schooner.
Mid 70’s: The Lost Years
Lelanta disappeared into the drug trade and her travels remain a mystery. She was eventually seized off the coast of Naples Florida. The story goes that one night, an off duty sheriff was fishing off the coast when he saw what appeared to be a sailing boat moving in with out any lights. He saw flashlights moving about the deck and assuming they were in distress, he turned on his police lights as he approached to provide assistance. As he got near, he saw the occupants of the boat jump into smaller boats and disappear. Upon boarding, he found the interior of Lelanta stacked to her deck with 7 tons of Marijuana. After her seizure, Lelanta was put up for auction and sold to a woman out of Miami. After taking possession of the vessel, the Coast Guard sent her the documentation but was returned as undeliverable. Apparently, she had just been sold back into the drug trade. This time, she was a regular site between South America and Newfoundland were she was doing regular runs east of Bermuda regardless of weather or season. I guess the folks running the drug trade know a good boat when they see one.
After being seized again, in 1978, she was actioned to Charles and Nick Iliff. A father and son team that were going to rebuild her back to her original glory since the drug runners had stripped the boat of her interior. They managed to put most of the boat back together and do some cruising throughout the Chesapeake and Bermuda. In 1981, they donated the boat to the Landmark School for Dyslexic children in Beverly Massachusetts.
1981-1988: St. Barth’s Cargo Schooner
In the 80’s, Lelanta was back into private ownership, based St. Barth’s, where she returned to her contraband carrying ways. This time the cargo was champagne! Friends recall a near empty hull, a single lightbulb dangling from a wire, and the front seat of a pick up truck hanging from chains. In the early 1980’s, the French government was trying to assist the island of St. Barth’s and was introducing an economic development package that include duty free alcohol. This made the price of champagne cheap enough to sell to the other islands and make a decent profit. Her interior was removed yet again as she became a cargo vessel for the fine spirits. She traveled throughout the Caribbean chain selling spirits to the highest bidder for the next 6 years.
The turning point in Lelanta’s life was soon to come when two friends got together and began discussing boats. John Welteroth had been looking for a steel schooner to sail the Pacific with. He had been looking around for quite some time and was about to settle for less. He was told by his friend, “I know a schooner for sale”. They hopped on a plane from St Barth’s to St. Martin and while still in the air, looked at Simpson Bay lagoon and said “that’s the one right there”. In his mind, he had bought the boat before the plane touched the ground. After a cautious, but quick inspection, he bought the boat “as is-where is”. It took 8 months and a lot of work to get Lelanta in shape for the journey to her new home, Sag Harbor N.Y. For the next 12 years John guided a complete refit. “We started with an empty shell, took her completely apart and started over again” After endless hours and effort, Lelanta was to make her debut in 2001 as virtually a new 1929 Alden Schooner. She has a completely new interior, fittings, wiring, plumbing, and fixtures. There is not a part of Lelanta’s refit that was overlooked.
Today, she is very comfortable with 12 guests and 3 crew. Lelanta has been a part of the Hamptons community for decades now, and will continue to do so years to come.