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The Sequoia (Photo by Ron Cogswell via Flickr)

Making more memories on presidential yacht U.S.S. Sequoia.

By Connie Lawn

The Sequoia (Photo by Ron Cogswell via Flickr)

The Sequoia (Photo by Ron Cogswell via Flickr)

A visit to the former presidential yacht U.S.S. Sequoia is always a memorable and historic experience. I have had the honor of visiting Sequoia several times — as an invited guest and a party host. The 89-year-old yacht is still docked at the Gangplank Marina, off of 6th and Maine streets in southwest Washington across from Arena Stage. You have to walk through a sometimes loud Mexican restaurant to get to it. It has no connection to the restaurant Sequoia in Georgetown.

You can book Sequoia for private parties and events, but no one knows the future as the storied vessel has been mired in a legal battle over ownership.

Recently, current owner Gary Silversmith invited about 40 of his close friends for an elegant dockside party on Sequoia. We did not cruise, as we had all done several times. Instead we talked, ate gourmet catered food, and watched the sunset over the magnificent waterfront.

The U.S.S. Sequoia was the yacht for presidents from Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter. President John F. Kennedy had his last birthday dinner there. He is said to have enjoyed the company of several ladies on the small, presidential double bed. My husband and I — and countless others — took our photo on that bed, sitting on either side of the Presidential Seal. Richard Nixon is reported to have gotten drunk and played patriotic music for hours on the piano, before he conceded he had to resign the Presidency. According to Sequoia history, “WWII strategy was planned at the dining room table. FDR and Churchill planned D-Day. During a poker game, Harry Truman dented the large table in frustration. During the Carter Administration, the table was used for raucous parties hosted by Hamilton Jordan. At other times, Gorbachev talked about the end of the Cold War.” That seems ironic now.

Silversmith has spent over $5 million in upgrades and sometimes offers free events to Wounded Warriors on the boat. Visitors are free to scamper all over and take pictures. Just don’t break off anything!

Gary Silversmith

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