Sometimes, while I take a break walking around the shipyard, I find some beautiful boats but that one I have met these days is a real lady and, if it could speak, it would tell one of the most famous stories of the last century. With an elegant dark green painted wooden hull, a narrow high poop, a schooner rig, this boat draws attention immediately and it let understand what it hires. May Internet be blessed or damned for revealing all the details only by typing its name: Royono. One of the boats once belonged to the President JFK, a man who loved sailing and sea in general, maybe not his favourite boat but, according to gossip, the one he used with Marilyn Monroe.
The first JFK’s sailing boat was Flash II, a 22-foot Star (1910), a small fast boat, generally used in Olympic races. It is said that with Flash II the president learned to sail and he even won some regattas in North-Eastern American coasts. When the boat auctioned, it was bought by Gregory Olaf Anderson, who wanted to restore and sell it at a very high price. But he was arrested for drug trafficking and Flash was abandoned in a warehouse before being discovered by the current owner: an ex-supporter of Kennedy who look after it waiting for an offer.
But the boat of JFK’s life was his second one, Victura, a 25-foot sloop received at his 15th birthday. With Victura, the president sailed all his life and the family photos taken on it are impressed in our memory, as a part of that “successful” image which has always characterized the Kennedy Family. Those who knew him say that JFK was very happy on his Victura.
Then, it was the time of the “official” boats and it seems that the purchase of Manitou, a 62-foot yawl designed by Olin Stephens, was one of the first documents signed by JFK as the President of the USA. Manitou hosted the Kennedy family, many Hollywood stars, heads of state and it is still used today by a French society for charter trips and regattas. The other official boats were motorboats: Marlin, now owned by Diego della Valle, a fast shuttle which allowed to the president to move from his family house to Port Hyannis and New York. The official archives report that JFK was on his Marlin in two important moments of the Cold War: when the Secretary of Defense Robert McNavarra reported the increasing threats of the Russian armament and when, in August 1961, Moscow informed Washington about the construction of the Berlin Wall.
Later, another boat, used by many presidents, from Truman to Eisenhower, from Johnson to Nixon: Honey Fitz was equipped to communicate with the White House and even with Moscow and it is strange to think that, once dismantled and sold, it became a floating restaurant in Florida… But to tell the truth,even if it is sad to tell it, it is said that the last JFK’s boat was that one he drew on a letterhead in the hotel of Dallas where he stayed the night before being killed. It was a small tapered sloop, with all the sails to the wind.