S/Y Manitou

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President Kennedy at the helm of Manitou on August 12, 1962
Namesake: Manitou Passage
  • James Lowe (1937–1955)
  • Coast Guard Academy (1955–1968)
  • Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship (1968–)
Builder: M. M. Davis & Sons
Launched: 1937
General characteristics
Length: 62 ft (19 m)
Beam: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Draft: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Sail plan: Marconi-rigged yawl

Manitou is a 62-foot-long (19 m) sailing vessel previously used as a presidential yacht by United States president John F. Kennedy.[2][3] Manitou was built in 1937 by shipyard Davis & Sons in Solomons Island, Maryland. It was the 99th design by naval architects Sparkman & Stephens, who built many America's Cup racing yachts.

Manitou was originally privately owned by race car driver James Lowe. She was launched in 1937 and promptly won the 1938 Chicago Mac Race in the cruising division (on corrected time), beating all previous records. She came a close second the next year and came back to win it again in 1940 and 1941. After these successes, Mr. Lowe sold her, and in 1955 she was donated to the US Coast Guard to be used as a training vessel at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.[4]

President Kennedy used Manitou while he was in office. Manitou was returned to private ownership in 1968 when she became a training vessel for the Harry Lundenburg School of Seamanship in Maryland. The boat took on the nickname: "Floating White House".[5]

In 1999 Manitou was sold to Laura Kilbourne, great granddaughter of the James R. Lowe, the original owner. Manitou was then given a comprehensive refit at Chesapeake Marine Railway in Deltaville, Virginia.

In late 2010 she was sold to four joint owners and underwent an extensive refit in early 2011. She was then shipped to the Mediterranean where she was made available for charter out of ports on the French Riviera.


  1. "Coast Guard Vessel Documentation". NOAA Fisheries, Office of Science and Technology. Retrieved 27 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Fanta, J. Julius (1968). Sailing with President Kennedy: The White House Yachtsman. Sea Lore Pub. Co. p. 98.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Meath, Jason Killian (August 2009). Hollywood on the Potomac. Arcadia Publishing. p. 2. ISBN 9780738567556. Retrieved 5 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Collette, Matt (12 October 2008). "Kennedy 'floating White House,' carefully restored, is up for sale". Boston Globe. p. B3. (Subscription required (help)).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Fanta, J. Julius (1968). Sailing with President Kennedy: The White House Yachtsman. Sea Lore Pub. Co. p. 16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links