Sailing like a Kennedy

Putting state affairs aside and relaxing on the deck (wearing chinos and deck shoes, of course) was one of JFK’s favourite pastimes while in office. In fact, soon after being elected, he commissioned his own presidential yacht: the 62-foot sailing boat ‘Manitou’...

This picture from 1962 shows the U.S. President enjoying a cruise on the ‘The Floating White House’, all the while remaining in touch with base thanks to its sophisticated communications equipment. Although the Manitou – first built as a racing yacht in 1937 and named after a section of Lake Michigan – satisfied Kennedy’s nautical passion, he preferred to sail smaller boats solo.

His love affair with the sea began with a small dinghy named ‘Victura’, a gift from his parents for his 15th birthday. That enthusiasm soon turned into an obsession, and he was regularly seen sketching the little boat on scrap paper during meetings and long-haul flights. In WW2 he was a decorated US Navy officer, famously commanding patrol boat 'PT109'.

The night before his assassination, while winding down in the Rice Hotel in Houston, JFK drew a small boat sailing on high seas. Staff found the sketch while cleaning his room the next day.

Photo: The White House Archive