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Honey Fitz

OUR HISTORY

The Honey Fitz is a prestigious, 93-foot wooden yacht that has had the honor of serving five U.S. presidents: Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and most notably, John F. Kennedy.

Constructed in 1931 by Defoe Boat & Motor Works in Bay City, Michigan, for Montgomery Ward magnate Sewell Avery, this 92-year-old ship is currently docked at the Pelican Club in Jupiter, Florida. The HONEY FITZ has undergone a thorough restoration, carefully revitalized to showcase the historic elegance and distinctive style characteristic of the Kennedy era.

In partnership with Lessing’s Hospitality Group, the Honey Fitz Crew Capt. Gregory S. Albritton and Capt. Katelyn J. Kiefer, initiated an extensive, critical restoration process in February 2020. This effort was paramount in preventing the complete deterioration of the vessel. Spanning three years, the restoration endeavor focused on preserving elements from its original 1931 construction and, more significantly, on highlighting its celebrated tenure as a presidential yacht during the Kennedy Administration.

The Honey Fitz, exclusively available for charter, offers guests the opportunity to explore its historical features and components dating back to the yacht's initial construction in 1931, its role during World War II, and its esteemed service to U.S. presidents from 1945 to 1971. This meticulous preservation and restoration work ensures that the HONEY FITZ remains a living testament to an important piece of American history, reflecting the legacy and luxury of a bygone era.

Photo of JFK on the Honey Fitz
  • 1931-1942

    Designed by Thomas D. Bowes, the vessel “Lenore” was launched in July 1931 at Defoe Boat and Motor Works, in Bay City, Michigan, commissioned by Sewell L. Avery of Montgomery Ward. The yacht was named after Avery's daughter Lenore, and primarily used on Lake Michigan. On August 15, 1942, the U.S. Government requisitioned the Lenore repurposing it for WWII, where it was assigned to the United States Coast Guard and renamed CG-92004.

  • 1942-November 1945

    The U.S. Government transferred CG-92004 to a U.S. Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland, where it was then militarized. CG-92004 was then assigned to various duties, including coastal picket patrol at Rockaway Point and Fire Island, NY. Often, the vessel would be assigned detachment duty with Comsublant headquarters in New London, Connecticut aiding officers to train against enemy submarines. With the end of WWII, CG-92004 was transferred to the U.S. Navy of Defense, stationed in Washington, D.C. and served as a tender for the USS Potomac.

  • November 1945-January 1961

    During the presidencies of Truman and Eisenhower, the vessel, renamed Lenore II and then Barbara Anne, underwent significant refurbishments and began its service as an Official U.S. Presidential Yacht. The president and first family had personal use of the yacht, hosting various events and outings. It was often used as a tender to the USS Williamsburg to carry secret service.

  • January 1961-November 1963

    Under President Kennedy, the yacht was renamed Honey Fitz. It was refurbished according to Jacqueline Kennedy's tastes, and frequently used for family trips along the east coast primarily in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, Newport, R.I. and Palm Beach, Florida. The Kennedys spent Easter and Christmas holidays aboard the yacht and President Kennedy hosted dignitaries on official outings.

  • November 1963-December 1971

    President Johnson retained the Honey Fitz, honoring President Kennedy. During the Nixon Administration, the yacht underwent refurbishment and was renamed Patricia. Soon after, Nixon decommissioned the vessel, and it was put up for sale at auction in 1970. The Patricia was then purchased by Joseph B. Keating in 1971, marking its first civilian ownership since Sewell L Avery.

  • 1971-1998

    Renamed as “The Presidents” under Keating’s ownership, the yacht was chartered for dinner parties and day cruises. In the late 1990s, the yacht was put up for sale after it fell into a state of disrepair and placed onto a barge to prevent the yacht from sinking. William Kallop, a Texas businessman, made the winning bid at a 1998 Guernsey’s Auction of Kennedy memorabilia.

  • 1998-2020

    Under William Kallop, the vessel was renamed Honey Fitz again and underwent a significant hull restoration that successfully restored the vessel back into water. The Kallop family hosted charity events and chartered the Honey Fitz along the east coast. Despite numerous attempts at topside repairs, it began to fall back into a state of disrepair and sat dormant.

  • 2020-Current

    In partnership with Lessing’s Hospitality Group, the Honey Fitz was purchased in 2020 and embarked on a three-year restoration to preserve its historical significance and restore its Kennedy-era grandeur. Currently, the Honey Fitz engages in charitable events and is available for private charter through the Pelican Club in Jupiter, Florida.