Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sonny - Design 94

Sonny is a design very similar in style to a long progression of earlier designs including Dorade (design #7), Stormy Weather (design #27), Edlu I (design#35) and Avanti (design #85). She is a beautiful example of a Sparkman & Stephens design.

The boat has been restored a couple of times. The first major restoration was by Cantiere Navale Dell'Argentario of Italy in 2002. Here's a great shot of Sonny arriving at Argentario.

And the ballast keel coming off.

The boat was eventually purchased by an American yachtsman, brought to New England where she underwent another major restoration. She is now in mint condition and makes her home at the International Yacht Restoration School docks.

Here's an article from Yachting Magazine from 1935. Double click for bigger view.

And the plans.

You can see some sailing shots in a previous post by clicking here.

Principal Dimensions
LOA 53'-6"
LWL 39'-0"
Beam 12'-7"
Draft 7'-8"
Displacement 46,774 lbs


  1. There was a 53' 6" Sloop/cutter SONNY that may be the same boat. She was built in 1929 owned by the Roosevelt family in Oyster Bay until about 1955 and then was named AKKA and was moored in the entrance of Port Washington, NY just off the Owner, C.Van Dorn Smith's residence until they moved to Woods Hole In the 1970's. She only had 4-5 letter names as that was all that would fit on the transom in the 6" letters required for a documented vessel.
    She was documented at 19 Tons light/20Tons heavy, "slutter" rigged having a removable inner head stay on a Highfield lever. She also has a single single action Nevins sheet winch neseled between 2 Highfield Levers on the very crowded area aft of the wheel where one person cranked and released or set the running backstays...when raced to Bermuda in 1957 she had double runners...a lot of work to operate shorthanded.
    She was very fast when I sailed her in the mid 1960's and only a Columbia 50 could occasionally take her to windward on a beat speed and pointing wise...
    Her CCA sailing racing was 69 . She had all of her original Ratsey storm sails in 1967 and we rigged them and sailed them in the fall storms that year coming back from Block Island in a NE blow.. she was a delight to sail and usualy dry on deck , she had a distinctive rounded deck house aft of the main companionway that may not have been original but was very comfortable.

  2. More on Sonny, design #94. She was sold by Mr. Phelps to an owner (Name unknown to me) who renamed her Gladja (Joy, I think in Swedish). This owner kept her only a short time, and sold her to Albert E. Peirce. Mr. Peirce, who also owned the 172' square fortopsail schooner Cressida, sailed her again as Sonny. Mr. Pierce in turn sold her to George T. Bowdoin, a member of the Seawanaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, NY. Mr. Bodowin renamed her Astrea, after a southern star or group of stars. He cruised her on the U. S. East Coast from NY to ME as we subsequently did. My father, known by most as Jack, and more formally as Van Dorn C. Smith, purchased her from Mr. Bowdoin in 1957. At Mr.Bodowin's request a new name was in order, and my mother renamed her Akka, (the leader of the wild geese). She very happily remained in my family until 1991 or 1992 when we sold her on to a gentleman from Holland who had her transported by truck to Rockland ME. Illness prevented him from commissioning the boat, and she remained out of the water but under cover there for several years. Sold again to a German owner, She was trucked to Montreal, sent by ship to northern Italy and transported, as seen in the photo, by barge to Argentario and a new life. While on the Med. she won a locker full of silver, and has continued her winning ways since her retutn to the U.S. and Newport, RI. As said above, she is today in mint condition. Best Regards, Len Smith

    1. Is this the Lenny Smith, ex- teacher on Staten Island, resident of City Island, Carl Beam's friend? This is Ben living in Colorado, a long way from the sea.

      Interesting reading of the Akka.

    2. Len - This is Trish Karter, one of your crew in the late 70's out of City Island. I don't know what inspired me exactly to go looking for you and Akka today but I'm so delighted to find this reference. I hope you are well and would love to be back in touch. Living in Guilford, CT now and was out sailing yesterday in an unusually beautiful wind for LI Sound. Made me think of you and our many wonderful cruises. I hope this note finds its way to you and that you are thriving. My email is trish@trishkarter.com Best, T

  3. A personal memoir from Don Camp: I worked for Len Smith as live-aboard crew on AKKA for the summer of 1976, after my junior year of college -- A great summer job, and a magnificent boat! We cruised out of Port Washington the first month (Oyster Bay was my favorite spot); then anchored and cruised out of New London (lobsters at Block Island were the best!); then a few weeks moored off Jack's house at Buzzards Bay/Woods Hole (finally a bed to sleep in!), cruising to Martha's Vineyard, Nantuckett, etc (what more could you ask for?). The most memorable cruise was high-tailing it back to home port at the end of the season --- entering Long Island Sound after midnight in near-gale winds and golf-ball hail storm, running with just a storm jib the size of a placemat, and making better than 10 knots (as I recall). Len - I don't know another skipper or another boat that I would have felt as secure making that trip! Thanks for the great summer, and teaching me the bowline like none other!
    With warm regards,
    Don Camp

    1. Hi to both Ben and Don; Still living with my wife on City Island. You may E-mail me at lsmithcapital@yahoo.com Best Len