Presidential yacht Honey Fitz featured at vintage boat event
By GERRY BARKER
North Palm Beach Life/ firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday, Feb. 20, some of the world's most beautiful vintage yachts will assemble at the West Palm Beach waterfront for the second annual Palm Beach Vintage Regatta. And the second year, the "star" of the show will be the Honey Fitz, a 93-foot yacht that has served five different Presidents, including JFK, who gave her the name she has today.
But aside from tours, something extra special is planned for the Honey Fitz this year.
A "Presidential Dinner" will be held aboard the historic vessel on Friday, Feb. 19. "Reservations are limited to 38 people," said Danny Bivins, who handles operations for the event. "There will even be an appearance by John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline," Bivins said, impersonators who are bound to turn heads at the West Palm waterfront.
Guests will feel like they are back in the time of JFK's Camelot as they dine in the same seats where the First Family once sat and enjoy a five-course dinner, cocktails and Las Vegas-style games. Attire is formal, and tickets are going for $200.
Bivins also shared the menu, which includes choices like Wild Greens Salad with goat cheese, beets and roasted pumpkin vinaigrette, Dry Aged New York Strip with wild mushrooms, whipped potatoes and whole grain mustard jus and French Vanilla Gelato, to name a few.
Built originally in 1931 for the chairmen of Montgomery Ward, the Honey Fitz was first named Lenore. Its first use as a Presidential yacht was by Harry Truman, but JFK was its most ardent Presidential admirer. Kennedy renamed it Honey Fitz in honor of his maternal grandfather. He, Jackie and their family frequently cruised the Potomac in it, and spent holidays cruising the waters around Palm Beach.
The Honey Fitz will be one of more than three dozen vintage yachts at the Regatta, including the 122-foot Mariner III.
One thing missing from this year's show will the races.
The reason? Manatees, the gentle "sea cows" that roam the waters around the Palm Beaches.
"Because the manatees are an endangered species, we had to cancel the racing," Bivins explained, then noted that ironically, manatees were just recently removed from the endangered list. But not in time for this year's planning.
"Next year we'll have them," Bivins said.
Along with the yachts, there will be vintage cars to see and special exhibitors as well. Key supporters of the show include the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach, Jim Moores, who restores yachts at Moores Marine Yacht Center in Riviera Beach, and restaurant entrepreneur Rodney Mayo, owner of the Camelot Yacht Club in downtown West Palm Beach.
Both men are driven by their love of classic yachts, a century-old tradition of boat racing in Palm Beach and a special affection for the magic of JFK's Camelot era.
Show hours are 10 am - 5 pm, and more information is available here: