It’s not everyday when you get an invite to sail on General Patton’s private yacht When and If, so when that invite comes you say yes immediately, throw on comfy clothes, drive three hours to Northern Ohio at Put-in-Bay, and climb aboard! The When and If tall ship has received a gorgeous overhaul and will be soon ready to sail around the world- and our sail on Lake Erie was only a taste of the excitement to come!
The History Behind When and If
General George S. Patton had big dreams to sail around the world with his wife, Bea. In 1938, he commissioned F.F Pendleton of Wiscasset, Maine to build him a yacht to do just that- when and if he returned from war. Designer John Alden, famous for his elite racing yachts, had a new concept in the When and If‘s design: build a schooner that was both speedy and luxurious.
The When and If remained in the Patton family until 1972 when the General’s nephew gifted the boat to a Landmark school. A storm in 1990 caused immense damage to the vessel, so the boat when back into private ownership and was meticulously rebuilt.
Fast forward to present day where, after a two year additional renovation, the When and If is planning on working its way around the world- and we were lucky enough to sail on one of its North American stops- Put-in-Bay. Part of the Lake Erie Shores and Islands, Put-in-Bay is easily accessible by the Miller Ferry Line and the 20-minute ferry ride to the island was only a taste of the lake’s beauty.
Truth? Mr. Locke and I have not spent a ton of time on the water (but we have sailed a few times), so you can understand our curiosity when it came to sailing on General Patton’s personal yacht. We were delighted that the schooner had made its way to Put-in-Bay over Fourth of July weekend and the weather was so perfect.
The When and If offered 90-minute excursions out into Lake Erie and during our time I couldn’t help but look at the gorgeous ship. Tall sails, beautiful wood details, and the coolest deck I’ve had the pleasure of sailing on!
When the tall sails are up, the natural response to the ship is to kind of bounce through the water, which I didn’t expect especially on a lake. After acclimating to the movement, the ride was amazing. We weaved our way around Lake Erie and, using only wind power, had a beautiful sail and beautiful views of Put-in-Bay to boot.
In a Nutshell
The When and If is sailing all around the Great Lakes through September and will be hosting guests for traditional and special cruises. We had such an incredible time on the tall ship that I’d have no problem recommending it to water lovers, families, and folks that are simply curious about the ship. If you tend to get sea sick, please be advised that the schooner does bounce on the waves and leans from side to side so you may want to enjoy it from the dock if you turn green in choppy waters.
We received complimentary tickets to sail on When and If for the purpose of this article, but all opinions are my own!