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Sea Cloud

The first time I ever saw the sailing vessel Flying Cloud it was anchored in a place called Dead Horse Bay just opposite Floyd Bennett airfield in Brooklyn, New York. Her mast has been unstepped and she was painted Navy gray. For a great sailing yacht, she looked forlorn and humbled. I was very young, probably about 8 years of age and enchanted with sailing vessels from stories my mother told me about her grandfather’s exploits as a clipper ship captain. I had no idea even what kind of ship it was nor did my dad. To find out, my dad pulled his LaSalle off Flatbush Avenue to investigate. There was a small boat yard there and he asked an old fisherman about the ship. The fisherman said the vessel had once been a grand yacht and belong to some very rich person but now it belonged to the U.S. Navy and had been anchored there for a long time. The image of that grand old yacht stuck in my mind until many years later I learned what it was. During WWII many yacht owners lost their yachts, which were sold to the U.S. Navy to be used to patrol the coast. The grey rusting old vessel, he said, was used by the Navy as a weather station and designated IX-99. With the war over, the Navy had no further use for the yachts in the coastal patrol and those that were left were either sold or returned to their owners. The grey ship I saw was the SEA CLOUD. It was the only private luxury ship of its size still underway at the end of the war. Back in the hands of its owners, she set sail on July 4, 1946. Joe Davies and wife Marjorie Post along with seven friends set a course for the Florida coast. The yacht had to make do without its masts, but it was now painted brilliant white and the golden eagle once again adorned the bow. In the summer of 1947, the rigging was re-assembled. In 1949 the SEA CLOUD received a new set of sails, which, even for millionaires, was difficult to get at the end of the war. The reconstruction of the SEA CLOUD took almost four years in total and cost $7.5 million. From the top floor of a Palm Beach hotel, Joe and Marjorie waited anxiously for the return of their rebuilt ship. When at last, she sailed into the view, Joe said to his wife Marjorie, "Well, Dear - there goes your Baby." The Hussar V, (later renamed SEA CLOUD) was built in 1931 at the Krupp family shipyard in Kiel according to plans of the renowned American contractors Gibbs & Cox. She was christened HUSSAR V. She was a four-masted barque and the largest private sailing yacht of the time. The massive yacht was commissioned by one of Wall Street's wealthiest businessmen, E. F. Hutton. Hutton’s wife Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to a huge fortune and herself a successful businesswoman, designed the luxury yacht, with its then black hull, completely according to her liking. She dedicated at least two years almost exclusively to this task. For the purpose of design process, she rented a large warehouse Brooklyn, NY. In the warehouse, she drafted a full-scale diagram of the ship's interior and arranged carefully chosen antiques as they should later be displayed in her own and the six other luxury cabins. The yacht was decorated exactly has her owner planned. The HUSSAR was built to transport her owners in the luxury befitting two people of enormous wealth. They travelled in their yachts on business trips and vacations across the world. The vessel was at sea for at least nine months of the year sailing to the Galapagos Islands, to Hawaii and ports all over the Mediterranean. Here length was 360feet, beam 50 ft and she had a draft of 17ft. She carried 32,000 square feet of sail on her 29 sails. The main mast was 184 feet tall. She was powered by 2 SKI diesels. Here speed was approximately 10 knots. She carried a maximum of 64 passengers with a crew of 60. There were 32 outside cabins. There are 10 cabins original with bathtub/WC or shower/WC and 22 cabins with shower/WC. Marjorie Merriweather Post was the incredibly rich daughter of Charles William Post owner of General Foods Corporation and Postum Cereal Co. Post made millions as a cereal magnet and inventor. When she married E.F. “Ned” Hutton their combined wealth them made rich beyond most people’s fondest dreams. It was not long after their marriage they started planning for the Hussar V, later renamed Sea Cloud. In 1935 the couple splint up. Marjorie wasted no time in remarrying, in her settlement with E.F. Hutton, she got the Hussar V and promptly renamed it Sea Cloud. When she renamed the yacht she also had repainted to a gleaming white from its original black. Marjorie married Joseph Davies who was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as ambassador to Russia. The yacht took on a new role as a diplomatic vessel a kind of floating embassy, running parties and meeting onboard for heads of states and diplomats all over Europe and the Mediterranean. Film star Dina Merril, daughter of Major Merriweather Post and E.F. Hutton, spent a great deal of time growing up on the Sea Cloud. Frequent guest included James Michener, Walter Cronkite, Donald Rumsfeld, Ross Perot and Robert McNamara and many more celebrities. In the 1950s Marjorie decided to sell beloved Sea Cloud. Imagine even she found it too expensive to run. Eventually the yacht was purchased by the Dominican Republic’s ruthless dictator, Raphael Trujillo. Trujillo had been a frequent guest. His son Ramfis used it as his home away from home in US and as a floating brothel. Word has it that international Playboy Porfirio Rubirosa visited it during that time. It was used as part of the Trujillo family’s escape after Trujillo was assassinated. With Trujillo out of power it eventually wound up a rotting hull grounded on the tidal flats in Colon, Panama. In 1978 German Captain Hartmundt Paschburg convinced a group of German shipping magnets to purchase and restore the Sea Cloud as an historic vessel. In 1983 Olaf Lindblad sailed on her and became enchanted. He chartered her for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic. The Sea Cloud in now in active charter. Her homeport is Hamburg, Germany. For details contact cindy.tanenbaum@gmail.com.

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