- Elegante's 50th Celebration -

The Motor Yacht Elegante (then called Aphrodite) was built for John Hay “jock” Whitney by Whiticar Boat Works in 1964. We celebrated her 50th Birthday Celebration here at Whiticar Boat Works in Stuart Florida on March 15, 2014 with over 140 people attending. The owners Bill & Pat Anton co-sponsored the event with Whiticar Boat Works. At noon the owners invited guests on board for beverages and lunch. The official event was set to start at 2:00. There were several speakers planned for the event and the sum of their stories makes up a good history of the boat and boat yard. The story starts during the Stuart Pioneer days in 1917 when Curt Whiticar first came to town through building the boat and the various owners over the past 50 years. The story is presented in chronological order.

 

The History of the Whiticar Family and Whiticar Boat Works by John Whiticar

 

G. Curtis Whiticar (CURT), founder of Whiticar Boat Works first came to the Stuart area in 1917 with his Mom, Curt, and two brothers. Addison Whiticar, Curt's Dad, would hand line commercial fish during the winter months and make a decent living due to the abundance of fish at that time. Summers were spent fishing in Fortesque, New Jersey. Due to competition from commercial net fishing in the late twenties Addison started to use his boat more and more for sport fishing.

 

Curt built his first boat when he was 14 and by the age of 23 had designed and built a 33 ft. single screw boat called the Shearwater. This fishing boat, based on local inlet hardships and hard core fishing needs is the backbone to the design of the modern Whiticar sport fisherman of today. Addison or more fondly called Capt. Add had Curt build him a boat shortly afterward in 1938. The Gannet, a twin screw 38 footer was Capt. Add's pride and joy and was part of the original Whiticar Fleet that ran out of the docks which are now just east of boat yard. It was shortly after this time that the Whiticars would stay in Florida year round. Due to ever increasing demand for these boats, Curt erected a large building on the land next to his home and Whiticar Boat Works evolved in 1947. The first boat to be built in this building was the original Hobo built for his brother Jack. She was powered by a pair of 225 horsepower Chrysler engines and proved to be fast and exceptionally seaworthy. Curt married Elsa Dragseth, John Dragseth’s sister in 1939. They had three children. Laura Kay, Joanne, and John.

 

Several years after the start of Whiticar Boat Works Curt hired his brother in law John Dragseth to help him run the company. John Dragseth and Curt Whiticar built up the company from a one building single railway system to eventually having many buildings and two railways. The successful company expanded due to quality repairs and its famous line of custom sportfishing boats.

 

John & Dora Jane “Dode” Dragseth had two children, Jim and Alice. As Curt and John Dragseth retire, Jim Dragseth and John Whiticar (cousins) continue to upgrade and modernize the facility. The antiquated railway systems are now gone and replaced with a modern 75 ton Travel Lift.

 

Meeting the ever demanding needs of the marine community Whiticar Boat Works has expanded into four divisions:

  • Whiticar Boat Yard, a modern full service marine facility is at the original location in Stuart Florida. 

  • Shearwater Marine & Industrial is our mobile marine and industrial division located on Commerce Avenue. Shearwater specializes in Mobile Service as well as parts for Industrial and Marine Engines and Generators.

  • Whiticar Marine North is our full service marine facility in Harbortown in Ft. Pierce. 

  • Whiticar Yacht Sales is our premier yacht brokerage division and runs out of the Stuart and Ft. Pierce.

 

Several years before 1964 Whiticar Boat Works contracted with John Hay Whitney to build our one and only motor yacht. The 61' Aphrodite was completed in 1964 and is now 50 years old. Curt Whiticar’s brother Jack was captain of this boat for many years for the then famous entrepreneur.

 

Construction of the Aprhodite by Curt Whiticar (103 years old on Feb 13, 2014)

 

Capt. Add, Curt Whiticar’s father, was asked to go up to Fishers Island, New York in the summer of 1935 and run a boat for Irving Bonbright. At that time the sportfishing business in the summer in Stuart was slow so Capt. Add asked Curt to come up and run his boat, the “Three Brothers” out of Fishers Island. Curt ran the boat for one summer and later ran his own boat the “Shearwater” out of the same location for several summers. It was during this time that Jack Whiticar got his job working for the harbor master, most likely through the influence of Mr. Bonbright.

 

The harbor was full of many boats, mostly sail boats. There were small sailboats called Bulls Eyes which are a Herreshoff design that were used by younger people and there were H23’s that were sailed by young adults. Many of the property owners had larger sail boats and some power boats of various styles in the harbor as well. One of Jacks jobs was to ferry people to and from their boats at anchorage. Through this interaction with the members of the Yacht Club, Jack got to meet a lot of powerful and influential people. One of those people was John Hay “Jock” Whitney. (Bill Anton will talk more about Whitney later on)

 

Somewhere prior to or around 1960 Jack Whiticar was having a conversation with Jock where Whitney was telling Jack that he was thinking about getting rid of his three engine 70ft. commuter boat and buying a Trumpy. Jock had not been using the commuter and the powerful boat was not practical for socializing and expensive to operate. Jack mentioned to Jock that his brother Curt was a fine boat builder and asked if he would give him a chance at the project. Curt drew up plans based on the Trumpy design and presented them to Whitney who liked them very much. Shortly after this construction was started on the Aphrodite and she was completed in 1964.

 

Jack Whiticar became captain of the Aphrodite and spent many summers around Fishers boating with Jock Whitney and his family.

 

1964 – 1980 Aphrodite and Jock Whitney by Bill Anton

 

A friend once said that for Mr. Whitney ''money has three purposes: to be invested wisely, to do good with and to live well off.''

 

Through his Whitney Communications Corporation, he had significant interests, at one time or another, in Parade, a Sunday newspaper supplement; Interior Design, a trade magazine; Art in America magazine; the International Herald Tribune Company; 25 small newspapers, five television stations and six radio stations. He was also Ambassador to Britain from 1957 to 1961.

 

His nickname “Jock” dates from childhood. During the 1970s, Jock Whitney was listed as one of the ten wealthiest men in the world. Estimates early in 1982 put his fortune through inheritance and his own efforts at more than $200 million. Jock was an early investor in Aviation Corporation of America, which evolved into Pan American World Airways. He founded J. H. Whitney & Company in 1946 as a venture capital company, and its first major investment of $1.25 million in the Spencer Chemical Company doubled in a year.

 

Also in 1946, Mr. Whitney started the John Hay Whitney Foundation, and he long contributed about  one million dollars a year to it. The foundation emphasizes help for ''those groups that experience racial, gender or economic discrimination'' to seek educational, social and economic changes in their communities.

 

Mr. Whitney was a solidly built man who stood 6 feet 1 inch. He was an amiable companion and his friendships included horse trainers and jockeys, professional men and men of public affairs, artists and fellow millionaires.

 

Whitney was a frequent bridge and golfing partner of General Eisenhower, and a substantial contributor to the general's Presidential campaigns. He spent about $100,000 a year of his own money to maintain the social side of his diplomatic life.

 

He could also bunk at Greentree Stables, near Lexington, Ky., a 1,000-acre horse farm whose ownership he shared with his sister, the late Joan Whitney Payson, who was once the principal owner of the New York Mets baseball team.

 

Mr. Whitney's art display in his home on 63d Street town house was among the finest in private hands. There were more than 55 items including two Rembrandts, two Michelangelos, three Picassos and a number of works by Vuillard, Monet, Cezanne, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Pissarro and Braque. In addition, there was a sizable collection of Matisses, Mr. Whitney's favorite modern artist, whose pictures traveled with him from house to house.

 

In 1933 Whitney invested in Technicolor and later put up half the money to option Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind for the Selznick film version, in which he also invested.

 

Pat Anton said that he and Mr. Whitney had a lot in common and in particular their fondness for fine Champagne.

 

Born on August 17, 1904, John Hay Whitney passed away on February 8, 1982 at the age of 77.

 

1980 – 1992 Bandarlog and Louise S. O’Connor by Pat Anton

 

In the early 1980's Louise O'Connor from Houston Texas began her search for a small Yacht. She found Aphrodite in a boat yard south of Palm Beach in need of major renovation. Nonetheless Louise found herself immediately smitten with this troubled teen. She lovingly undertook the major project of transforming the original plain 1960's interior to this unique and beautiful pocket yacht that radiates class wherever she travels.

 

To achieve this she brought in craftsmen to design and install the majority of the interior teak and mahogany that you see today, as well as replacing and refurbishing much of the boats systems and engines. She rechristened the Whiticar one of a kind classic beauty, the BANDARLOG after the mischievous monkeys in Rudyard Kipling's "the Jungle Book". Louise could not be here with us today but she did want me share her recollections of how The Bandarlog would turn heads in every port. The main salon was transformed into a formal dining area with sparkling crystal, silver and china. The foredeck served as the full moon watching station. The aft deck was the main living area, the place to enjoy the view at all the gorgeous ports. Her main port of call was Chub Cay, the nexus of the big game fishing world.

 

So of course, like those mischievous monkeys in The Jungle Book, the Bandarlog did not want to miss out on the fun and games. As we stand here today I can't help but smile imagining the sight of the Louise's self proclaimed "hilarious" fishing trips off the stern of this yacht.

 

Louise sends her best wishes to the "love of her life" for "at least 50 more years of happiness"

 

Additional Notes about Louise O’Connor…

 

From the “About” web page. Wexford Publishing on Louise S. O’Connor. Louise S. O’Connor was born in Victoria, Texas, a fifth-generation member of the O’Connor family, that has been ranching the Texas Coastal Bend since 1834.

 

She began photographing on her family’s ranches in the early 1970’s while studying photography and attending colleges and universities in the state. A graduate of Nazareth Academy in Victoria, the author attended Loretto Heights College in Denver, Victoria College, and University of Texas at Austin. She majored in History, English, and American Studies.

 

In 1996, the author was awarded an Honorary Masters of Art from Bath University College in Bath, England, for her work in the preservation of Texas history. Her portraits of the people of the Texas Coastal Bend have been exhibited all over the United States since 1988.

 

Louise S. O’Connor lives on her family ranches and continues to deepen her historic research using oral interviews and photographs. She continues the study of the history of the Texas Coastal Bend and is planning more volumes of “Tales from the San’Tone River Bottom” . She is also preparing a study of the Irish settlement of the Coastal Bend as well as several other volumes addressing this unique culture.

 

An email from Louise O’Connor…

 

The time between Jock Whitney’s ownership and Louise O’Connor’s discovery was not kind to the Aphrodite. The following are excerpts from two of Louise’s emails to Pat.

 

"She was a mess when I found her and I always felt she sent for me to save her."

 

"The combined efforts of almost every boatyard in Florida in putting their greatest craftsmen and designers got her looking like she does today. Thanks for keeping her going!" Louise O'Connor

 

1995 - Wilbert Hamstra - Hamstra Charters by Pat Anton

 

Wilbert and Peg Hamstra from Indiana and Naples Florida acquired the Bandarlog in the early 90's. They rechristened her Elegante and commenced on a voyage that lasted 16 years. According to Wilbert, the Elegante put in an average of 6000 miles per year ranging from the North Channel in Ontario Canada, Nova Scotia to Naples, Florida and the Bahamas.

 

Her 3 years in the Pacific Northwest and summering in Alaska were what Wilbert calls the most wonderful experience he has ever had.

 

She has also completed the Great Loop 6 times. For those of you not from the Midwest the Great loop is the route up the east coast through the Hudson River to the Erie Canal to the Great Lakes system. Then down Lake Michigan through Chicago through the river system back to the gulf.

 

Those years are immortalized in a most unlikely place. Walk into almost any Walgreens in Chicago and on the postcard rack you will most likely find an image of the Elegante docked in front of the navy pier.

 

Thoughts on the Elegante by Bill & Pat Anton

 

In 2010 Bill and Pat were fortunate enough to become the caretakers of the Elegante. For the past 2 winters Captain Jack and Renee undertook a complete upgrade from stem to stern including  functional, mechanical, navigational and technological upgrades. In addition there were the obligatory Anton quality of life upgrades including: a custom swim ladder, wine storage, commercial ice makers and refrigeration, toys, paddle boards, floating islands, and of course for those of you who know them, a special champagne chilling & storage system. Last,  but not least, given their love of music & dancing, a proper audio system was installed, complete with an authentic disco ball.

 

All of Jack and Renee's hard work was appropriately recognized & rewarded in December 2013 at the Ocean Reef Club's Annual Vintage Week when Elegante won "Best of Show" honors.

 

Like the prior owners, they have fallen under the spell of this "one of a kind" Whiticar masterpiece. Given this being the 50th anniversary of Elegante's launch, it was only appropriate that she have a proper 50th Birthday celebration.

 

About The Anton

 

For more than 30 years Bill and Pat Anton have been innovators and leaders in the foodservice industry. From his highly acclaimed restaurants in Washington, DC to the fastest growing airport foodservice company in North America, they have been a visionaries whose company has set the standards that others now follow.

 

Bill and Pat Anton redefined airport foodservice when he and his wife Patricia founded Anton Airfood, Inc. (AAI) in 1989. From the first lone restaurant at Washington National Airport they took on the "big boys," bidding and winning contract after contract against the two well established mega airport food service companies. Their innovative ideas such as fine dining and local restaurant brand favorites soon turned AAI into the second largest airport restaurant company in North America.

 

In 2005, Bill and Pat Anton created the Anton Family Foundation (501 c 3), a philanthropic venture whose mission is to "preserve heritage, culture and quality of life in small communities for future generations." Gift allocation is focused on cultural and historical preservation, land and water conservation, fine and performing arts and education. 

 

By: John Whiticar

© 2014 MOTOR YACHT ELEGANTE