As one of his first official acts, incoming president Kennedy selected Manitou, the 62-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl designed in 1936 to replace the 92-foot powerboat that was then the Presidential yacht. She had been donated in 1955 to the Coast Guard Academy. She was brought to the Chesapeake Bay and equipped with communication equipment so the President would never be out of touch with his office (or the Kremlin) while on board.
Kennedy sailed Manitou often on the Bay and in New England. Kennedy was so fond of the boat that he deemed her the ‘floating Whitehouse.’ She was named after Manitou Passage in Lake Michigan. ‘Manitou’ means ‘Spirit of the Water.’