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Frank’s life­time con­nec­tions with yachts

Frank’s life­time con­nec­tion with yachts.

Frank Sina­tra had a life­time asso­ci­a­tion with yachts, and this arti­cle cov­ers six of the more mem­o­rable occasions:

a) Work­ing in Shipyard — 1932

b) Yacht­ing cap image — late 1930’s and 1940’s

c) Sav­ing drown­ing boy from yacht — 1945

d) Guest on Christina O — late 1950’s

e) SINA­TRA THE VOICE link — 1960’s and 1970’s

f) Mia Far­row yacht trip — 1965

Work­ing in Shipyard

In early 1932 at the age of 17, Frank Sina­tra worked at the Tiet­jan and Lang ship­yard, located in Hobo­ken (the birth­place of Frank Sina­tra) on the New Jer­sey side of the Hud­son River.

One of Frank’s uncles got him the job at the ship­yard, which involved catch­ing white-​hot riv­ets hang­ing over a four-​story shaft. One day, he swayed a lit­tle too far out and a rivet came down, barely miss­ing his shoul­der, and crash­ing at the bot­tom of the shaft. “It scared me so much I couldn’t han­dle it. I had acro­pho­bia and didn’t know it. And I was hang­ing on to that rope and that burn­ing hot rivet went by me like a bul­let, singe­ing my shoul­der. I got a dif­fer­ent job”.

This expe­ri­ence clearly ensured that Frank’s involve­ment in boats in later life would much more be on enjoy­ing boats for leisure rather than build­ing them!

Yacht­ing cap image

For most of the 1930’s and 1940’s, Frank aspired so much to the lifestyle of the yacht­ing world, that he took to the image of  wear­ing a white yacht­ing cap whilst smok­ing a pipe. It became his trade­mark style until adopt­ing the more famous fedora hat around 1953.

This yacht­ing look was not pop­u­lar around his home town which was very work­ing class! Indeed, his pre­ten­sions didn’t sit well with a lot of peo­ple. A com­mon taunt was “Who the hell did he think he was, strut­ting around Hobo­ken in fancy duds and a ­yacht­ing cap?” 

Sav­ing drown­ing boy from yacht.

In 1945, Frank showed another side of his char­ac­ter when he saved the life of a 3 year old boy. The New York Times arti­cle on this inci­dent was enti­tled SINA­TRA AVERTS DROWN­ING (Dives From Dock and Saves Uncon­scious Boy in Water), and ran as fol­lows.

“Frank Sina­tra, crooner, mod­estly ducked out of sight today before pho­tog­ra­phers could arrive after he had res­cued a 3-​year-​old young­ster from drown­ing at San Pedro, Los Ange­les. Aboard the yacht Chief­tain, while it was moored at the Cal­i­for­nia Yacht Anchor­age for refu­el­ing, Mr. Sina­tra was talk­ing to the owner of the Anchor­age when Duke Jones, 3, fell thir­teen feet from a rail­ing onto the dock and then rolled into the water unconscious.

Before any­one else could move, Mr. Sina­tra rushed across the dock, dived into the water, and lifted the boy out. The boy is the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Jones of Los Ange­les, who also have a yacht at the Anchor­age. The Chief­tain, owned by Axel Stor­dahl the orches­tra leader, pre­vi­ously had com­peted in a sail­ing race in Los Ange­les Har­bor with Mr. Sina­tra serv­ing as a crew­man”. Axel Stor­dahl is shown with Frank in left hand picture.

Rather bizarrely, Frank was him­self saved from drown­ing in Hawaii in 1964 by the actor Brad Dex­ter who was one of “The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven” went swim­ming from his yacht towards a beach when he was swept out to sea by the out­go­ing tide and nearly drowned. Dex­ter who was his guest, swam out from the yacht and res­cued Frank, for which Dex­ter was later awarded a Red Cross medal for his brav­ery. Brad Dex­ter is shown in right hand picture.

Guest on Christina O

In the late 1950’s, he stayed on the most famous yacht of all time, CHRISTINA O owned by Greek ship owner Aris­to­tle Onas­sis. The 325 ft (99.06 m) lux­u­ri­ous yacht was renamed Christina O after Aris­to­tle Onassis’s daugh­ter. The music lounge is still ded­i­cated to Frank Sina­tra, and con­tains a Stein­way piano once played by him.

Apart from Onassis’s mis­tress Maria Callas and his wife Jackie Onas­sis, other celebri­ties such as Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe have sailed on CHRISTINA O. She was one of the most famous soci­ety venues of the mid 20th cen­tury, and John F Kennedy first met Win­ston Churchill on board in 1957.

A story goes that Frank Sina­tra, among oth­ers, attempted to buy CHRISTINA O, but Aris­to­tle Onas­sis would not sell. It is clear that by the late 1950’s he had finally achieved his teenage dream of liv­ing the yacht­ing good life!


In addi­tion to vis­it­ing friends on their boats, Frank Sina­tra also owned and char­tered boats for his own use dur­ing his life­time. In par­tic­u­lar, Frank Sina­tra spent time on boats with friends, in par­tic­u­lar with the Rat Pack, dur­ing the early 1950’s to the mid 1960’s. Dur­ing the 1960’s and 1970’s, he used the yacht SINA­TRA THE VOICE (then called NEIDI III) on a pri­vate basis.


Mia Far­row yacht trip. 


One well known occa­sion of Frank Sina­tra char­ter­ing a boat, was when Frank took girl­friend Mia Far­row and some of his other friends on a month long yacht cruise vaca­tion in New Eng­land waters dur­ing August 1965. The media found out about the trip, and went into a frenzy amid rumours that Sina­tra was about to wed Far­row. The episode was news­wor­thy at the time since both singer Sina­tra and TV actress Mia Far­row were both famous in their own right, and due to the age dif­fer­ence between the cou­ple. He was 30 years older than her, since Frank Sina­tra was 49, and Mia Far­row was 19. They were duly mar­ried in July 1966.

The infa­mous boat trip cov­ered New­port RI, Edgar­town in Martha’s Vine­yard Mass. and Hyan­nis Port Mass., and was cov­ered by the press as if was the Super Bowl. Indeed Frank com­plained that it was impos­si­ble even to hear the per­son next to you because of the per­sis­tent sound of helicopters.


These six instances of Frank Sinatra’s involve­ment with yachts show his long time fas­ci­na­tion with yacht­ing, and in par­tic­u­lar the life style asso­ci­ated with.

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