Heart’s Desire was designed by John Alden and built by T.H. Soul in South Freeport, Maine, 1925. She was originally built for Sandy Neilson of Marblehead but was run by a coalition of 6 (or so) out of the Camden Cruising club in Camden, ME. She lived there for an unknown period of time.
Since then the boat has been used for chartering and is known to have lived in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and St. Thomas. That we know of she has mainly traveled along the Eastern United States.
A point of confusion concerns her sister ship Venus, originally built as Piccaroon (Alden hull design #253B). This nearly identical boat was also built by T.H. Soule in Freeport, ME and launched in the same year, 1925. Upon searching the web for Venus, many photos claiming to be her are actually Heart’s Desire, distinguished by the heart in the topsail (in photos post 1980).
Additionally in the late 1960’s (?) Heart’s Desire was renamed Athena. It is unknown when these changes occurred except that documents from the American Schooner Association indicate this name in 1972 & 1973.
Originally built of long leaf pine over oak frames with a single large cabin, she was rebuilt in 1980 by Paul Rollins. She was then planked in oroko and the cabin was split into two. From 2010 to 2014 she has been again extensively refit by Matt Hobart, at Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway, Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Please see posts and the recent work page for more information about the refit.
Previous owners (Name – Dates – Port of Call if known):
A.S. Neilson & Syndicate – 1925 to ?
Pease Boatworks -?- Chatham, MA (Now Firstlight Boatworks)
Peter Stanford 1964 – 1973 – New York, NY (Boat was named “Athena” at this point)
(Unclear ownership: Howard Whitney ?? Arthur Allgrove ? (North Wilmington, MA)
Dave Stickney and Pam Burke – ?1979-1989? Newburyport, MA (Beaufort, NC to Florida)
Pease Boatworks – ? – Chatham, MA
? Frank & Tris Kane – ? to 2003 – Nantucket, MA or York, ME
Glen Schroeder – 2003-2010 – Barneget Light, NJ
Matthew Hobart – 2010-present – Vineyard Haven, MA
Do you know more about the history of Heart’s Desire? Do you have any interesting stories to share about the boat? Please leave a comment with any information you’d like to share or corrections you have.
I have reason to believe that the Heart’s Desire was owned for a long stretch by the Homans family, from Boston. They had a home on Seven Gates Farm on Martha’s Vineyard, overlooking the Vineyard Sound. To this day, a large wooden model of the boat resides in that Vineyard home, with other photos of different family members sailing on her.
Thanks Jeff, we hadn’t heard much about her on the Vineyard other than transiting through here from time to time! Would be fun to see the model sometime if you know who has it let Matt know!
I used to crew on Hearts Desire for charters based out of Annapolis Maryland in the mid 90’s. Such a fantastic yacht.
We sailed with the Stickneys on Heart’s Desire. Had an uneventful grounding in the Merrimack River basin, but otherwise, all was good, happy, and a very distinguished vessel!
The boat has brought many a lot of joy, including us! Hopefully she can continue her legacy for a long time to come and into her hundredth birthday in 2025!
In the summers of 1966, 1967 and 1968 I sailed aboard the Hearts Desire most days with Howard Whitney in Ocean City Md. During the rest of the year Howard kept the Hearts Desire in Morehead City, North Carolina. In Ocean City, the Hearts Desire provided three, two hour trips per day for up to six tourists.
Family friends of my grandmother – Ted and Dorothy Reynolds (Stamford CT) owned Hearts Desire in the 50’s and I think 60’s as well. They also had a summer home in North Haven, ME. Sorry I don’t have specific dates but this at least adds another piece of the pie for past owners.