Description of the boat

  • Owned by the Kennedy family from 1952 to 1970.
  • Length: 52'. Beam: 12'. Draft: 3.5'.
  • Commissioned by Edsel Ford.
  • Designed by Boston naval architect Walter J. McInnis and constructed by F. D. Lawley of Quincy, Massachusetts in 1930.
  • Rum-runner hull configuration and two Sterling Dolphin six-cylinder 300hp engines allow speeds of thirty knots and more.
  • Built of double plank mahogany with wide hull and varnished superstructure.
  • Open cockpit forward measuring 9' x 10'.
  • Combination galley and crew's quarters aft of the forward cockpit.
  • Originally designed with open bridge and powered by Chrysler Royal 3 cylinder marine engine.
  • Special equipment: fathometer and ship-to-shore radio.

Background information

In 1935 Ford sold the Marlin to Schenley Distillers. When World War II erupted, the Coast Guard drafted Marlin into coastal patrol service. After a complete overhaul following her discharge at the end of the war, Marlin was purchased by the Yellow Cab Company of Cambridge, Massachusetts and was at the disposal of the late Governor Paul Dever.

In 1952, Joseph P. Kennedy purchased her. John F. Kennedy used Marlin for important meetings with his cabinet while President. It was aboard the Marlin that the president conferred with his military advisor General Maxwell Taylor, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara about Nikita Khrushchev's increase in arms spending and latest threats against West Berlin. JFK was on Marlin the August afternoon in 1961 ready to sail out with his family when the message from Moscow was brought to him that the Berlin Wall was being erected.

When Marlin was about 32 years old, she received a new mahogany bottom and twin Chrysler V-8 engines. Fresh paint revived her appearance. Over the years Marlin carried a long list of passengers that ranged from prominent figures in the government to members of the ever-expanding Kennedy clan. Marlin's life with the Kennedys came to an end in 1970 when the family donated her to a Florida university which sold her in a closed bid auction. As of 2005, the boat was in the hands of Italian fashion magnate Diego Della Valle.