Sparkman & Stephens yawl meets inglorious end

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When a 70-foot wooden yawl launched in 1938 and named Petrel was recently demolished on Martha’s Vineyard, two generations of sailors and boat enthusiasts reluctantly watched. Among those was the yacht’s former owner who used to offer $3.75 rides in New York Harbor.

Legend has it that President John F. Kennedy once sailed the boat and even considered it for special use by the White House.

“So much skill and craft went to fashioning it, and then just watching it rolled on its side and broken up and hauled away in two hours’ time,” said Ross Gannon, who builds and restores wooden boats in Vineyard Haven. “It was just, sort of, a death.”

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