JFK & Jackie on a Sailfish

a cool photo of JFK and Jackie with a Sailfish sailboat.

2015/02/img_5220-0.jpg

the Sailfish was the predecessor to the Sunfish. it was the first boat created by Alex Bryan and Cortlandt Heyniger – the founders of Alcort. the Sailfish is a board boat with a lateen rig, very similar to a Sunfish – but it was made out of wood and had a flat hull that you had to sit on top of while sailing.

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29 Responses to “JFK & Jackie on a Sailfish”


  1. 1 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Very cool pic. You don’t need a big yacht to have fun on the water – even if you can afford one. I wonder what year this was? He looks very young and she doesn’t appear to be wearing a wedding ring.

  2. 2 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I think I have the answer to my own question. That pic and another one of them sailing the boat (presumably the same boat on the same day as they are wearing the same clothes) is at http://seersuckeredsailor.blogspot.com/2012/05/portrait-of-quintessential-prep-jfk.html

    The caption on the picture of them sailing says it was June 1953. They were married in September 1953. There are lots of other cool JFK sailing pictures on that blog post.

  3. 5 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Thanks. And the JFK library link says it was their “engagement weekend.” I wonder if they were ever happier than they were that day?

  4. 7 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 10:01 am

    It doesn’t seem to be known exactly when or where JFK proposed to Jackie. There are all sorts of conflicting reports on the Interwebs. Some say he proposed in May, some say June 24, others say the engagement was announced on June 24. It sounds as if they were in Washington on June 24 (he was already a US Senator) and then went up to Cape Cod for the weekend. I bet she was flashing the engagement ring that weekend, but seems to have taken it off to go sailing!

  5. 12 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 10:13 am

    The photo reminds me a bit of some of the photos I have posted on my blog of Paul McCartney wooing various ladies on a Sunfish. Apparently he took Heather Mills for a sail on a Sunfish on their first date. But he didn’t learn his lesson and some years later was pulling the same move with Nancy Shevell.
    http://propercourse.blogspot.com/2008/04/dear-sunfish-class.html

  6. 14 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 10:21 am

    LOL. I suspect that in 1953 there were no paparazzi anywhere near the Kennedy compound in Hyannis. Did they even have paparazzi then?

    Which poses another puzzle. Who took the photo? Did the Kennedys have an official photographer to take posed photos that could be used to burnish the image of their favorite son? Or is this just some family photo taken by one of the family?

    • 15 my2fish February 13, 2015 at 10:32 am

      I’ll admit I’m not up to speed on the frequency of or existence paparazzi in the 1950’s. some of the photos almost seem too posed to be just a random family member taking them, so there could have been an official photographer.

  7. 16 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Check this out. They certainly posed for a gaggle of press photographers (and at least one moving pictures cameraman) on June 27 at Hyannisport. But Jackie is also snapping away with a camera too. The JFK Library say the photographer of the Sailfish photo is “unknown” so I guess we will never know.

  8. 19 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I hadn’t realized until I started digging around a bit, how much public interest in JFK and Jackie there was so early in his political career, and how much they obviously used the media to enhance their image. It’s almost as if JFK was running for president from his first year in the senate.

    There was a picture of the two of them sailing together (not on a Sailfish) on the cover of Time magazine in July 1953, presumably with a feature inside about the engagement of the dashing young senator and his beautiful fiancee.

    Check out this auction of “courtship sailing photographs” believe to be taken by Hy Peskin.

    http://historical.ha.com/itm/miscellaneous/ephemera/john-f-kennedy-and-jacqueline-kennedy-courtship-sailing-photographs-1953/a/6106-38009.s#Photo

  9. 21 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Hmm. I just noticed. It looks like they are wearing exactly the same clothes on that Time magazine cover and in your Sailfish photo – even to the extent that JFK’s shirt sleeves are rolled up exactly the same way. Surely, circumstantial evidence that they were taken the same day. Perhaps by the same photographer?

    My theory is that someone did a photo shoot for time (perhaps Hy Peskin as mention on the auction site) and the Sailfish photos were rejected by Time (or perhaps even the Kennedys) as not projecting quite the right degree of glamor and wealth and power.

    On this link you can see some of the photos used inside the Time issue too.

    http://store.jfklibrary.org/original-life-magazine-senator-kennedy-goes-a-courting/padcabkdcmlfebji/product

  10. 23 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 11:24 am

    And here’s another mystery. Is that wooden Sailfish one of the earlier ones built at home from plans, one of the slightly later ones built from an Alcort kit, or one of the even later ones assembled by Alcort.

    Somehow I can’t quite envisage John and Robert and Teddy building a Sailfish from plans in Papa Joe’s garage. But, if they did, there would surely be photos somewhere!

    I am sure the renowned Sailfish expert, Baydog, will be able to figure this out.

    Well that’s 2 hours of my life I am never going to get back. Why do you keep posting such interesting blog posts. I think I will go and work out on my hiking bench now.

    • 24 baydog February 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      Expert? Hardly. I know three things about the Sailfish: It has a flat, sanded deck, it was my first solo sail, and I cried for a good part of the time I was on it.

  11. 25 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Correction. It was LIFE magazine. Not TIME.

  12. 29 Tillerman February 13, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    And here’s another interesting article about Kennedy from that year. Is this the secret reason he got engaged?

    http://saturdayeveningpost.com/wp-content/flbk/The_Senates_Gay_Young_Bachelor/#/1/


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