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An iconic piece of our nation's history has sailed its way into Savannah. The famous presidential yacht, Honey Fitz, is docked right along River Street. The yacht has had the honor of serving five presidents from Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.
As you walk through the floating museum it's as if you're walking back in time with rare glimpses of presidents enjoying their time off.
"The way it's set up and everything with all the pictures and the memorabilia it actually sends chills down my spine every time I walk through," said Captain Mark Glasser.
The Captain of the Honey Fitz, Mark Glasser, said it's an honor to serve the yacht he grew up watching on TV.
"It represented a time when people really looked up to America. I think the world has changed since this yacht was around," said Glasser.
Even with a few changes over the years the boat still retains its old charm.
"This is the part of the boat that used to be open, but Nixon didn't really want it open, and [by closing it] could get more space," said Glasser.
One of the most historic pieces of furniture on the yacht is a desk which comes from the White House during Kennedy's administration.
The yacht today isn't just for looks it's on a goodwill tour offering up its crew and services for free to charities.
"Here in Savannah we're happy to have the Ronald McDonald House and we are going to take some veterans out on an appreciation cruise," said Event Coordinator, Francis Pavlov.
As the yacht sails to 13 cities the captain said it never gets old seeing people appreciate history.
"It still really pulls the American heartstring I think because it was such a great time for this country," said Glasser.
The Honey Fitz will be docked in Savannah until Wednesday.
The waterborne vacation home to five presidents and the scene of meetings with foreign leaders is making a state visit to The Jacksonville Landing this weekend.Now owned by a Texas oilman, the Honey Fitz was a private yacht from 1931 to 1945, then the presidents’ through 1970, known as the “Yacht of Camelot” during President John F. Kennedy’s tenure.
Date: May 11, 2013
Cost: $250 per couple
Want to ride on a piece of history?
The former yacht of several presidents – but most notably that of John F. Kennedy who sailed aboard her and named her the “Honey Fitz” – is coming to town the week of May 9-14. The beautifully restored 93’ craft will be docked at The Jacksonville Landing. The Jacksonville visit is part of a 13-stop 2013 tour of the East Coast with the final stop being in Nantucket, MA in mid August..
Home base for the “Fitz” is in West Palm Beach. See the Fitz – for historical background, more photos, the story of its restoration, and the tour itinerary.
The yacht, which can comfortably accommodate 50 passengers, will set sail for a 2.5 hour river cruise on Saturday, May 11. Boarding will begin at 4:00 PM and end at 4:30.
The museum will be open from 1 to 5 PM on May 11 and a special welcome area for those taking the cruise will be set up inside. Here, “cruisers” can partake of snacks and soft drinks and learn more about the Honey Fitz’s history and restoration. Those who take the cruise will be enrolled as Jacksonville Maritime Museum Society members and, as such, are granted free admission to the museum. Current members of the JMMS are entitled to a 10% discount toward the cruise cost.
All proceeds taken in on the 11th will be donated by the boat’s owner to the JMHC which will provide tickets for passage!! Cost of the cruise – which serves as a major fundraiser for the JMHC – is $250 per couple (or an individual with a guest). The JMMS and one other local non profit, the Susan Komen Race for the Cure, are the beneficiaries of the boat owner’s largesse.
JMHC is working with the Fitz crew to provide heavy hors d’ ouevres, soft drinks, and wine during the cruise.
Call the Center today at 355-1101 or email it at email@example.com to reserve your name on the passenger list!
The former presidential yacht 'Honey Fitz' was docked at the Maritime Center Thursday May 23, 2013 in anticipation of fundraising cruises on Saturday for Heroes Haven, a North Charleston organization devoted to helping homeless veterans and for pierside tours Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a cruise that afternoon for the Carolina Children's Charity. Built in 1931, the wooden vessel was used by Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon but still carries the name President Kennedy gave it to honor his grandfather. A Texas oilman bought and restored the 93-foot motor yacht and the Charleston visit is part of an East Coast tour helping charitable organizations. More photos available at postandcourier.com (Wade Spees/postandcourier.com)
Today TV Video 'Inside JFK’s yacht, restored to its former glory' - May 2, 2013
Charte World Article 'Restored 1931 Defoe Yacht HONEY FITZ preparing for charity tour' - April 12, 2013
The restored 1931 Defoe yacht Honey Fitz is planning a charity tour in 13 cities along the Eastern Seaboard. The luxury motor yacht Honey Fitz, together with her crew, dockage, as well as fuel, will be donated to various charitable organizations.
Restored 1931 Defoe wooden yacht Honey Fitz
Honey Fitz 2013 Good Will Tour
Palm Beach FL.
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New York NY.
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About HONEY FITZ
Originally constructed by the Defoe Ship Building Company in Bay City Michigan in 1931, the 93-foot wooden yacht Honey Fitz was used by a number of presidents, and John F. Kennedy named her the Honey Fitz to honor his grandfather. This magnificent Presidential Yacht has been meticulously restored to her original state. She has returned to her former glory and is certified by The United States Coast Guard for up to 70 guests.
An iconic piece of United States history, the classically designed motor yacht Honey Fitz offers a one of a kind yachting experience to corporate and private clientele. The ex-Presidential Yacht Honey Fitz is available for an elegant cocktail party reception, casual brunch, lunch or upscale dinner reception.
The beautiful 93-foot Honey Fitz yacht embodies the vintage elegance and luxury of Americas golden age, The Gatsby Era.
Below is a choice of the outstanding charter yachts built by Defoe.
Yachting Magazine Article 'Honey Fitz Planning Charity Tour:
Former presidential yacht to visit 13 cities to help veterans, children and others.' - April 3, 2013
The 93-foot Honey Fitz is one of the most storied yachts in American history, having served as the presidential yacht for Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Now, the restored 1931 Defoe is preparing to engage in service of a different kind — bringing attention to charitable efforts in 13 cities along the Eastern Seaboard.
Honey Fitz has an itinerary this summer that will include Palm Beach and Jacksonville, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Beaufort, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Annapolis, Maryland; New York City; Greenwich, Connecticut; Newport, Rhode Island; and Boston, Hyannis and Nantucket, Massachusetts.
In each of those cities, the owner of Honey Fitz has agreed to donate use of the yacht, crew, dockage, and fuel to various charities to raise donations and awareness for their causes.
“Our emphasis is on, but not limited to, veterans’ and children’s charities,” says Francis Pavlov, who handles charter sales for the Honey Fitz. “All they have to pay for is their own catering and their event expenses, whatever they want them to be.”
The first partnerships announced are in Charleston, with Heroes Haven and the Carolina Children’s Charity. Heroes Have helps homeless veterans with housing and job training, while the Children’s Charity assists youngsters who suffer from birth defects or childhood diseases.
Other partnerships now being finalized, Pavolv says, include:
• An event in Palm Beach with the Ernie Els Foundation to build a school for autistic children;
• Multiple events with Autism Speaks in Palm Beach, Manhattan, and Nantucket;
• A fund-raiser to help the Palm Beach Maritime Museum create handicapped accessibility to the JFK fallout shelter on Peanut Island;
• An event with the Ronald McDonald House in Savannah;
• A breast-cancer event with Susan G. Komen for the Cure;
• General fund-raising for the Jacksonville Maritime Museum in Florida, the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Newport;
• An event for the North Carolina Boys and Girls Club in Beaufort;
• Several fund-raisers with the American Cancer Society in various cities;
• Fund-raisers for the American Red Cross in Hurricane Sandy-ravaged parts of New York City and Greenwich;
• A fund-raiser for the JFK Foundation in Boston;
• Events with the Special Olympics in Boston and Hyannis;
• A fund-raiser for Autism Speaks in Nantucket;
• A specific fund-raiser with Holidays for Heroes in Nantucket to assist a wounded veteran who needs help sending his children to college.
Post and CourierArticle 'Former presidential yacht used by JFK will be in Charleston to help raise money for homeless veterans' By David Slade
John F. Kennedy's former presidential yacht, now owned by a Texas oilman, will be used to raise funds for an effort to house homeless veterans in North Charleston, when the boat is in Charleston on Memorial Day weekend.
The connection made between the famous yacht based in Florida and a little-known North Charleston organization is one of those events that illustrates how the Internet can quickly distribute information far and wide. A Post and Courier article about the group, Heroes Haven made its way to people in the Presidential Yacht Honey Fitz organization, which was looking for charities to partner with during an East Coast tour.
William Kallop, the founder of an oil-drilling company and a yacht aficionado, bought JFK's former presidential yacht, the Honey Fitz, at auction in 1998 for just under $6 million and recently finished having it restored.
The wooden yacht, built in 1931, was used by a number of presidents, and Kennedy named it the Honey Fitz to honor his grandfather.
The Palm Beach Post reported that the Honey Fitz will be used to raise money for charities in 14 cities during its tour up the coast. The boat also is offered for private charters that can cost $5,000 for four hours, the Florida newspaper reported.
In Charleston, the Honey Fitz is expected over Memorial Day weekend, with fund raising excursions planned for Heroes Haven and another local nonprofit, Carolina Children's Charity, which awards financial grants to Lowcountry children with birth defects or childhood diseases.
North Charleston City Councilman Ed Astle, a Navy veteran who is chairman of the Heroes Haven board, said he was contacted by Francis Pavlov, the Honey Fitz's director of charter sales, who had read a commentary article by Astle's fellow council member Ron Brinson, a member of the Heroes Haven advisory board.
“He offered us the yacht for fundraising and our only cost is the catering,” Astle said.
That's a big deal for Heroes Haven, because the group only has about $2,000 in the bank and has not yet received nonprofit certification from the Internal Revenue Service — meaning that donors can't take a tax deduction for their contributions.
Astle said they'll be able to offer charter cruise rides to about 120 people, half on the morning of May 25 for $100 a head, and half in the evening for $500 each. And that could give the group a real financial boost.
Heroes Haven's goal is to create a community of homes for formerly homeless veterans, modeled after a project completed in Pittsfield, Mass., by a group called Soldier On. It's a project that could cost $6 million or more, Astle estimates.
Unlike transitional housing, where homeless people can live temporarily, the Soldier On project put veterans in housing where they have an ownership stake and part of their rent goes toward buying the homes.
“We're going to be a community, a neighborhood, of people who have shared experiences,” Astle said. “We want (formerly homeless veterans) together, for that mutual support.”
North Charleston has pledged a $5,000 sponsorship toward the yacht fundraiser. Astle and Councilman Bob King are members of the Heroes Haven board, and Charleston School Board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn-Coats is the unpaid executive director of the group.
“It's a great opportunity to move forward with a project Ed has been involved in to provide housing, for ownership, for homeless veterans,” said Mayor Keith Summey, who proposed the $5,000 city contribution.
Pavlov declined to be interviewed but provided a photograph of the Honey Fitz and this statement: “The Presidential Yacht Honey Fitz organization are proud to support the Heroes Haven charity and their dedicated efforts in helping homeless American veterans and their families in Charleston. Please support our Veterans.”
Palm Beach Post Article 'The Honey Fitz is back in business' By Carlos Frias
The way she bobs low and sleek between towering two- and three-deck fiberglass yachts at her West Palm Beach marina home, her wooden transom lettered in gold, the Honey Fitz almost looks quaint.
That is, until you see the presidential seal gracing her smokestack.
The presidential yacht John F. Kennedy made famous, a symbol of Camelot that cruised the Intracoastal Waterway near the family’s winter retreat in Palm Beach County, has returned to the seas.
After a two-year renovation here, the Honey Fitz, which started life as a luxury liner and went on to serve five sitting U.S. Presidents, is resurrected as a charter vessel that will spend the next year raising money for charities along the east coast, from West Palm Beach to Nantucket, Mass.
The 93-foot wooden ship, built in 1931 for Montgomery Ward tycoon Sewell Avery, lived through many iterations, from luxury cruiser to commandeered World War II mine sweeper. But it was restored to its most famous era, when it was the pleasure vessel for President Kennedy and his family.
Its current owner, Texas oil executive William Kallop, bought the Honey Fitz at Sotheby’s famed Camelot auction in 1998 for $5.9 million. His grandfather Anthony McKinley Kallop was a classmate of Kennedy’s during the future president’s brief stint at Princeton as a freshman.
Like all things attached to Kennedy, the ship — which the president named after his paternal grandfather, Boston Mayor John Francis Fitzgerald, whom everyone just called Honey Fitz — is a magnet for historians and fans of the era.
“One of (Kallop’s) main objectives is preserving history and this is a national treasure,” said crew member Francis Pavlov, the Honey Fitz’s director of charter sales as well as its executive chef. “Part of this goodwill tour is so that everyone can see it and everyone can enjoy it.”
The Honey Fitz will set sail for its 14-city charity tour up the coast, stopping for stretches of five days to two weeks, to serve as a fundraising tool for charities from wounded veterans in Charleston, S.C., to autism research. The other times, it’s available for charter for $5,000 for four hours.
When she arrived in West Palm Beach for restoration, the Honey Fitz was a far cry from Camelot. Piecemeal restorations had left the wooden vessel with a hull that was twisted 15 degrees off center and was starting to show the strain of a wooden ship that has sailed the Atlantic for more than 70 years.
The renovation started at Moores Marina, which specializes in vintage American powerboats, to straighten her hull and painstakingly re-plank her wooden sides by hand.
From there, she was handed off to her current crew, with Capt. Mark Glasser, First Mate Paul Ocepek and their staff finishing the restoration. The big question was whether to leave the aft section open to the elements, as the Kennedys had used her. Instead, they chose to leave the area enclosed, the way President Nixon had ordered done, to make for a more comfortable charter vessel and to protect the many pieces of presidential memorabilia from the elements.
Inside is the glistening mahogany bar the presidents used and pictures of the Kennedys aboard their beloved ship. In one corner, lovingly restored over 15 hours by Glasser himself, is the small curved desk Kennedy used aboard.
Nearby, there’s a framed copy of Princeton’s “Freshman Herald” yearbook, which shows Kennedy and Kallop’s grandfather as part of its class of 1939. But an illness would force Kennedy to withdraw by midyear.
On another wall are pictures of Eisenhower and his family, who had named this ship the Barbara Anne, and the framed Burgee flag Eisenhower flew on her bow.
“President Kennedy used the boat more than any of the other presidents,” Ocepek said.
The romantic spirit of the yacht remains. She was a dedicated party ship, a day-tripper — since there is only one stateroom onboard. It has a huge galley easily 150 square feet to cook for the 70-people who could enjoy the views from deck, a wide expanse that makes up two thirds of the ship’s topside.
“It’s a regular dance hall up here,” Glasser says from the royal blue-carpeted deck overlooking the Rybovich marina, where she’s docked.
Everywhere she goes, she draws a crowd with her glistening white hull and sporty red stripe just above the blue bottom.
A month after receiving her U.S. Coast Guard certificate of inspection in October, meaning she could carry paying passengers, the Honey Fitz was named the Spectator’s Choice at the exclusive annual Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, where some of the rarest automobiles, airplanes and boats are displayed.
More than 540 visitors viewed the Honey Fitz that day.
“There was a line down the dock the entire day,” Ocepek said. “She gets a lot of attention.”
This crew figures that’s just the beginning for this historic ship’s return to public life.