In April of this year we had a very special opportunity when asked by our friends Argie and Pat to join them for a day on the bay of Cannes on Pat’s classic 64-foot racing sailing boat the Manitou. Each summer Pat and his partners enter the Manitou into about 14 classic boat sailing regattas that take place in different ports around the Mediterranean. This was to be a first cruise for the upcoming season, to see just how ready the boat was. Although sailing conditions were not ideal, it was great to be out on the bay on such a beautiful boat and to get a glimpse on just how the boat can perform. After sailing for awhile we anchored in between the island of Saint Marguerite and Saint Honorat for lunch and a little wine, before heading it back to port ahead of the incoming rains.
For those not familiar with the name “Manitou”, perhaps the name John F. Kennedy is? The Manitou was President Kennedy’s sailing boat while he was president, as he preferred sailing to taking out the presidential yacht, which was a 92ft power yacht called Honey Fitz (named after his own grandfather) which more of a fighting ship ready for naval action than a pleasure yacht. Kennedy asked that they find a boat for him and they came up with the Manitou. After being outfitted specially for the president, it was delivered to him and became known as the “The Floating White House.” Although it was used as a presidential yacht, he also invited a stars and starlets aboard as guests and the bathtub in the aft cabin, sunken under the cabin sole, is said to have been host to, among others, Marilyn Monroe.
The boat went into disrepair for some time, until picked up by Pat and a few friends and completely refurbished, back in Maryland where it was built, and with further work done in Villefranche, near Nice.
There’s a great article on the Manitou in Classic Boat magazine, where it was recently featured on the cover.