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year was 1937 and James R Lowe commissioned Olin Stephens to design a
performance cruising yacht that would win the Chicago Mac race.
designed MANITOU, a 62 ft. cutter rigged yawl with a 50 ft. waterline, and
relied on Davis Brothers of Maryland for construction. The finished
vessel was christened Manitou and went on to win the race outright.
After three successful years of campaigning the boat Mr. Lowe sold
her and she later turned up as a Coast Guard training vessel.
John F. Kennedy was elected President, the Presidential yacht was a
92' powerboat. Although he changed her name to "HONEY FITZ" in honor
of his grandfather, the President was a sailor at heart and sent
naval aide, John Tazwell, in search of a suitable sailboat for
Presidential use. With her good looks and pedigree, MANITOU was
quickly selected. She was brought to Chesapeake Bay and fitted with
all the proper radios and communication equipment so the President
would never be out of touch with his office or even the Kremlin
while on board. Jack Kennedy used her often there and in New
England. He never raced her, but once off Newport during the summer
of 1962 he attempted to engage his friend Emil "Bus" Mosbacher and
his 12 Meter Weatherly in a friendly sparring match. However, the
Secret Service following along in a patrol boat intercepted the
future successful America's Cup
before she got close enough, much to the chagrin of the President.
In 1968, MANITOU was sold at auction to the Harry Lundeburg School
of Seamanship which is run by the Seafarer's International Union and
its then strong leader, Paul Hall. Aristotle Onassis, who was about
to marry Jackie Kennedy in October 1968, sought to buy MANITOU at
any price. Long a proponent of the common man, Mr. Hall refused all
offers, saying he wanted to keep her to teach less privileged young
people about boats.
In 1999, MANITOU was purchased by Laura Kilbourne, the granddaughter
of James Lowe, and the MANITOU came back into the family. MANITOU
was taken to Chesapeake Marine Railway in Deltaville, Virginia not
far from where she was built and has undergone a major refit that
will prolong her sailing career for many years to come. Great pain
was taken to keep her as original with butternut paneling and use of
all the old hardware that was still with the boat. A few modern
conveniences have been installed such as refrigeration and a
microwave. Her deck and much of her planking have been replaced. Her
spars have been refurbished.
MANTOU is currently at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons Island.
Due to the wonderful birth of triplets in 2001 there obviously has
been a necessary change in Laura Kilbournes' plans and they now have
decided to put MANITOU up for sale.
Now Manitou is ready for a new owner. Will you be the one?