The US has not had a presidential yacht since 1977, and neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton looks likely to bring one back. But for many of their predecessors, these special vessels played vital roles. The president who is most famed for his special relationship with the sea was John F. Kennedy, and his love of the 28 metre motor yacht Honey Fitz knew no bounds.
Eisenhower believed her to be “too rich for my taste” – but this did not deter JFK nor, indeed, his wife. No sooner had they acquired her than First Lady Jackie Kennedy shipped in the decorators. Bright fabrics and new carpets were fitted – even a colour TV to entertain the children. Christmases and Easters were spent on board and pictures of the family on deck adorned the Oval Office. As the glorious and lavish refits in this issue testify (as well as a comprehensive look at presidential yachts), and as Jackie Kennedy proved, a refit is not simply a decorating job, it is the creation of a home.
Everyone loves an inspirational story, an against all odds tale of courage and commitment in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. You’re lucky, then, because we’ve got two in this issue. It took three years to refit Mirage, the classic 1979 Feadship, and the job done by owner, designers and yard was so good she won a World Superyacht Award in May. But then, last July, all that hard work went up in smoke – literally.
Hats off, meanwhile, to Kanaloa. When I first heard about this superyacht’s story, my interest was immediately piqued. This yacht was refitted to a commercial standard, largely by her own crew and with a minuscule (for a refit) budget. Not bad considering that when work started, you could poke your finger through the hull plating and mow the weeds on the sundeck. Skipper Dean Homan gets a commendation, too, for diving over the side and epoxying aluminium patches to the hull to stop her sinking. Talk about inspirational.