Historical story

The Sea Cloud:luxury yacht with an eventful history

The "Sea Cloud" was a luxurious private yacht and warship. It accommodated millionaires, diplomats and soldiers. Today's cruise ship was launched at the Germania shipyard in Kiel on April 25, 1931.

by Janine Kuehl

The world has never seen anything like it:In 1931, a sailing ship entered the world's oceans that put all other private yachts in the shade with its luxurious furnishings. The rich American Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband Edward Francis Hutton commissioned the ship from the Germania shipyard in Kiel based on the plans of the US design office Gibbs &Cox from New York. They decide to have the ship built in Germany because it is cheaper here. Launching took place on April 25, 1931:the four-masted barque was initially christened "Hussar V" because Hutton traditionally calls his boats Hussar.

Pure luxury of gold and marble below deck

The black hull and the flat, sweeping rear are striking from the outside. Powerful engines make the ship independent of the wind. True luxury is found below deck:Marjorie Merriweather Post has marble bathtubs, gold fittings and precious wood furniture and wall coverings installed. The "Hussar" made its maiden voyage from Kiel to New York. From here, the couple goes on cruises to the Mediterranean, the Galapagos Islands or Hawaii. There are always prominent guests - movie stars, business people, nobles - on board.

The "Hussar" becomes the "Sea Cloud"

The invoice from the Germania shipyard in Kiel for the construction of the "Hussar", today "Sea Cloud", amounted to 948,000 US dollars.

After the owners divorced in 1935, a new era began for the ship. Hutton overrides the "Hussar" to his wife Marjorie. The new sole owner renames the barque "Sea Cloud" and has the hull painted white. The guests on board the yacht soon came from a different background:Marjorie Post remarried in 1935. Her new husband Joseph E. Davies takes over as US Ambassador to Moscow. The new home port of the "Sea Cloud" is now St. Petersburg, then Leningrad. Instead of film stars, diplomats now stay on the luxury ship - supposedly a good and bug-proof place for secret meetings. When Davies was transferred to Belgium in the late 1930s, Marjorie moved the "Sea Cloud" to Antwerp.

Second World War - Use by the Coast Guard

During the Second World War, the imposing four-masted barque became a gray US Coast Guard reconnaissance ship.

During World War II, the US Navy also requisitioned numerous private yachts. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt initially rejected the offer to use the "Sea Cloud", he returned to it in 1942. The four-masted barque goes to the Coast Guard for a symbolic charter price of one US dollar per year. What seems like a patriotic act on the part of the owners is more likely to have financial reasons, because the maintenance of the "Sea Cloud" is becoming more and more expensive. The brightly lit windjammer becomes the "USCGC Sea Cloud". For this mission, the rigging including masts, bowsprit and figurehead must be removed. Now with a gray hull and only one main lower mast remaining, the barque is in service with the Coast Guard. From April 1943 she supported the fight against underwater forces in the Atlantic with 72 soldiers on board - now as "USS Sea Cloud".

Dictator Trujillo buys the "Sea Cloud"

At the end of 1944 the couple received the "Sea Cloud" back - together with 175,000 US dollars for the reconstruction. The Davies' have their ship restored to her original condition over the coming years and undertake numerous cruises. But the exploding costs forced them to offer the "Sea Cloud" for sale from 1952. In 1955 - the same year as the Davies' divorce - a buyer was finally found:Rafael Trujillo is the head of government of the Dominican Republic and was a regular guest on the "Sea Cloud". On the "Angelita", as he now calls the ship, he conducts many of his government business. His son regularly uses the "Angelita" as a party boat.

Over the decades, film stars, diplomats and soldiers have met on the inviting stern of the "Sea Cloud".

In 1961 Trujillo was shot dead by political opponents. Trujillo's family tried to flee to Cannes on the "Angelita" with his body. But the new Dominican government can stop the company - the "Angelita" returns to the Caribbean. As "Patria" she now belongs to the Dominican state, which decommissions her.

Obscure ownership under the name "Antarna"

After five years under the tropical sun, US businessman Clifford Barbour acquires the dilapidated windjammer for his company "Operation Sea Cruise" to offer charter trips on it. He registers the sailing yacht in Panama and has it completely overhauled in Naples in 1967/68. From there it goes to Barbour's headquarters in Miami. Here the "Angelita", which is now operating under the name "Antarna", is arrested by the US authorities because of unpaid bills. Then the only 26-year-old Stephanie Gallagher enters the scene. She wants to use the "Antarna" for higher education of students. After paying all outstanding bills, she leaves with the ship. A cinematic chase follows. Clifford Barbour's managing director John Blue, still in possession of the ship's papers, pursues the "Antarna". Finally, in Colón, Panama, he is able to stop them with the help of the local authorities.

Captain Hartmut Paschburg saves the "Sea Cloud"

The four-masted barque "Sea Cloud" has belonged to several owners since 1931 and has had different names. She survived the war and adventurous episodes well.

A period of decline begins again in Panama. After eight years nobody took care of the four-master, the German captain Hartmut Paschburg accidentally discovered the ship. Together with Hamburg merchants, he forms a syndicate to acquire the "Antarna", which quickly regains its old name "Sea Cloud". In 1978, after temporary repairs, Paschburg sailed the barque with a crew of 40 to Hamburg, where it was greeted with cheers by thousands of people.

At the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche shipyard in Kiel, she is being repaired on the site of the former Germania shipyard, where she was built in 1931. The "Sea Cloud" gets 22 additional cabins - because in the future the four-master will sail as a cruise ship. Since the end of 1979, the "Sea Cloud" has been sailing the seven seas again. Today she is the epitome of luxury cruises under sail.

"Sea Cloud Spirit":Sister ship calls at Hamburg

The "Sea Cloud" is no longer just carrying well-heeled passengers. The sister ship "Sea Cloud 2" has been in use since 2001, and in 2021 the "Sea Cloud Spirit" will complete the small fleet of tall ships operated by the Hamburg shipping company "Sea Cloud Cruises". At 138 meters in length, the newest ship is the largest in the group to date. On June 16, 2022, the "Sea Cloud Spirit" will call into the port of Hamburg with guests for the first time.

Technical data of the "Sea Cloud"

Year of construction :1931
Ship Type : Four-masted barque
Overall length : 109.50 meters
width :14.94 meters
Maximum mast height :56 meters
Draft :5.13 meters
Sail area: 3,000 square meters
Maximum speed under sail :14 knots
flag :Malta
Home Port :Valletta
Owner :Sea Cloud Cruises