Sonny III, the latest launch by Brooklin Boat Yard, under way on Eggemoggin Reach during sea trials last month. BILLY BLACK PHOTO

Tremendous splash, anniversary bash highlights at Brooklin Boat Yard



BROOKLIN — A few days ago, Steve White’s friends threw a surprise party to celebrate his 40-year association with Brooklin Boat Yard. The business was founded by boatbuilder and yacht designer Joel White in 1960 and has expanded hugely since his death in 1997 with his son at the helm.

Evidence of that expansion, and another cause for celebration at the boatyard, was the launching late last month of the custom 91-foot cruising yacht Sonny III.

Designed by naval architect Bruce Johnson and the Brooklin Boat Yard design office, Sonny III replaces Sonny II, a 70-foot yacht also built for the same owner by Brooklin Boat Yard. That boat was a virtual replica of the original Sonny, another BBY creation, that the owner donated to Maine Maritime Academy and almost instantly regretted disposing of.

Sonny III’s owner, Albert Phelps, is a retired real estate developer who has based his boats in Jamestown, R.I., on Narragansett Bay. At 94, his mobility is more limited than it was when the original Sonny was launched 18 years ago, so he asked for a boat that would be more accessible and the designers and BBY delivered.

Among the accommodations for the owner’s mobility concerns, Sonny III includes powered chair lifts at each companionway, a power reclining chair in the master cabin, a side-boarding ladder and a transom-boarding platform.

“We’re proud to provide Sonny’s owner with a yacht that performs to his high expectations and accommodates his unique needs,” BBY President Steve White said in a statement. “He’s been a great collaborator on every boat we’ve built for him. This was a true challenge that required a lot of teamwork — a highly customized, 91-foot yacht built in only a year and a half.”

Sonny III has classic styling, including a completely flush deck with separate cockpits for passengers amidships and sail handling aft, a sharply raked bow and a reverse transom. The deck is teak, edged with a varnished teak toe rail. Low, varnished-teak cockpit coamings and canvas dodgers protect both companionway openings.

“I consider Sonny III a great accomplishment,” designer Bruce Johnson said. “I would expect a design process of six months for a yacht of this size and complexity before the yard could even begin to cut wood.”

Sonny III is big, but not super heavy. Length overall is 91 feet 4 inches with a waterline length of 74 feet 5 inches. The maximum beam is 19 feet even and the boat draws 10 feet. Displacement is 140,000 pounds, including 42,770 pounds of ballast. Her working sail area is 3,500 square feet.

Because the owner imposed an “aggressive build schedule” Johnson said, construction began just six weeks after the design project began.

“This project could not have been possible without Brooklin Boat Yard’s in-house designers who were invaluable, producing exceptional construction drawings,” Johnson said.

Sonny III sports a double headsail rig operated by Harken hydraulic furlers. The non-overlapping headsail configuration with chainplates placed well outboard greatly reduces dynamic loads and allows for a smaller, carbon fiber mast built by Offshore Spars, as well as smaller winches and hardware. The North 3Di mainsail is rigged with a hydraulic in-boom furling system.

Below, the layout includes a crew cabin with private head and stall shower forward, two guest staterooms forward of the mast, one with an ensuite head and stall shower and the other with a separate day head that also has a shower. The main salon has an elliptical dining area, a pair of reclining chairs and a navigation station.

Access to the full beam-width master stateroom is from either the portside passageway or through the galley to starboard. The master stateroom features an ensuite head with stall shower.

The entire interior is finished in Herreshoff style, with white and cream paintwork accented by American cherry joinery, leather upholstery and a teak and maple cabin sole.

Sonny III’s cold-molded, laminated-wood hull was built using epoxy resin and vacuum bagging. The hull and deck have carbon reinforcements in specific high-load areas. The ballast keel is a steel foil with integral tanks and a lead bulb. The rudder is a carbon spade design.

Because of the tight build schedule and other construction commitments, Brooklin Boat Yard subcontracted the hull and deck construction to Rockport Marine in Rockport. BBY has had similar arrangements in the past.

“This project wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration and support of many partners,” White said. “We achieved our high standard of craftsmanship within a consolidated time frame through teamwork and a shared vision.”

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]