Saga of ex-Presidential Yacht Sequoia Continues with New Owner


Rick Spillman who writes the Old Salt Blog reports that an American Historic Landmark and ex-presidential yacht Sequoia has fallen on hard times.

His blog reads:

In a recent ruling, Delaware judge Sam Glasscock describes her current condition. “The Sequoia, an elderly and vulnerable wooden yacht, is sitting on an inadequate cradle on an undersized marine railway in a moribund boatyard on the western shore of the Chesapeake, deteriorating and, lately, home to raccoons.”  The judge awarded ownership of the yacht to FE Partners, a Washington based investment firm backed by an Indian investor.  

The 104-foot yacht Sequoia was designed by John Trumpy and built by Mathis Yacht Building Company in Camden New Jersey in 1925. Between 1933 and 1977, she served as presidential yacht in seven administrations from Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter.

Since being sold by the government in 1977, Sequoia has had several owners. Her most recent owner, Washington lawyer and businessman Gary Silversmith, used the yacht as collateral in a 2013 loan agreement with FE Partners. In the agreement, FE Partners was given an option to buy the yacht in case of default.  When FE Partners attempted to exercise the option, Silversmith sued to block them.

Both sides claimed that the other had acted fraudulently and in bad-faith and suits and counter-suits have kept the yacht tied up in court for the last three years. The initial option price was set at $7.8 million dollars, but was reduced to $2.8 million due to other liabilities and deductions. The recent court ruling determined that the yacht had been allowed to deteriorate and repairs would would equal or exceed the option price so the vessel was transferred to FE Partners at an option price of zero.

FE Partners is an unusual firm. It is described on its website as “an investment firm based in Washington, D.C. that provides funding to preserve and maintain assets which are significant to the history of the United States. It is a joint-venture between Equator Group Holdings, LLC, a member of the Equator Capital Group of companies and the Timblo family, prominent members of the business community in Goa, India, who have deep ties to the United States and a keen appreciation of American history.

They go on to say that “FE Partners is committed to restoring and preserving the Sequoia so that future generations will be able to enjoy the storied past of this magnificent vessel.”

The Sequoia was often referred to the “floating White House” and was the site of many important meetings.

Rick Spilman is the author of the novels The Shantyman and Hell Around the Horn both published by Old Salt Press