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What dreams are made of – the story behind the world’s largest sailing superyacht

When thinking of leisure holidays on a sailing yacht, we picture beautiful white sails catching the breeze, a smart wooden deck, a small galley kitchen area and a couple of cabins with small en-suite bathrooms. Those are the dreams that some of us are lucky enough to afford. Then there are the super yachts, for the super wealthy, that surpass them all…
A fairytale in the making

Think 30 sails, 32 cabins and a never ending 360 feet of pure sailing pleasure. The Sea Cloud is all this – the true Queen of the Seas with the history to match. Built in 1931, this magnificent sailing super yacht is a vision of old school charm, and boasts an incredible story to go with her appeal. She was commissioned by Wall Street stockbroker Edward F Hutton as a gift for his heiress wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post, who was first introduced to sailing on Hutton’s three-masted schooner, Hussar. Originally named Hussar II, this beautiful sea farer, built in Hamberg, boasted seven luxurious cabins and panelled saloons. After the couple divorced in 1935, Marjorie claimed the yacht as her own. She later remarried, to United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph E. Davies, and together they renamed the yacht Sea Cloud. The vessel then served as an unofficial embassy, with many VIPs being entertained on her, including the then queen of Belgium, as well as various US and Soviet officials.

Serving for a nation

In 1941 Marjorie offered the ship to the US Navy, however the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, felt that she was far too beautiful to be used in service. However in 1942 they agreed to charter her at $1 a year, and she was refurbished to include weather observation equipment, at the same time removing four masts and painting her regulation grey. In 1942 she served mostly as a weather ship, before being re-commissioned to the Navy in 1943, serving as a patrol vessel off the coast of New England. She was retired once again to serve as a weather station in 1944.

Integrating history

Sea Cloud also holds the honour of being the first racially integrated weather ship in American history. In 1944 the then serving captain, Lieutenant Skinner, introduced black sailors on board, and within a few months they had fifty black sailors, including two officers, stationed on board.

Shattered dreams

In 1947 Sea Cloud retired permanently from naval service and her rigging was reassembled, with new sails being added and a splash of white paint, with a gold eagle painted on her bow. Following her divorce from Davies, Marjorie kept her beautiful sea farer, however after realising how expensive it would be to run a 72-strong crew, she decided in the end to sell to Dominican Republic President Rafael Trujillo, who renamed her after his daughter, Angelita. He was however assassinated in 1961, and five years later the vessel was sold to Operation Sea Cruises. The dream was to make the yacht, now called Antarna, a sea school, however after a dispute she ended up docked for 8 years.

Back to the beginning

Antarna was eventually bought by a group of Hamburg associates, including one Harmut Paschberg, who once again named her Sea Cloud. Together they sailed her to Hamburg where she spent eight months being repaired, ironically in the same yard that she was built in. She underwent a complete overhaul, creating enough space for 64 passengers and a 60 strong crew. She took her first official passenger cruise in 1979, and is still in operation today.

Be apart of your own story

Sea Cloud currently sails the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, offering 5-star accommodation, world-class chefs and pure luxury. However not all of us can afford this ultimate in luxury, so why not start your own story by joining Sail & Power SA on one of our Yacht Crew Training courses, or even start off smaller by learning to sail your own, more affordable smaller vessel. At Sail & Power SA we offer skipper and crew training for both sailing yachts and power vessels, so sign up now and be a part of the dream.

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Guest Wednesday, 26 July 2017