On the Potomac
Last week I had the opportunity to sail on San Francisco Bay on the Potomac. The USS Potomac, built as the Coast Guard cutter Electra in 1934, two years later was commissioned as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidential yacht. Roosevelt used it to sail up and down the Potomac until his death in 1945, when the ship was decommissioned. Subsequently, the Potomac had a checkered career. She was used as a ferry boat in the Caribbean, was briefly owned by Elvis Presley, was later used for drug smuggling and seized by the Customs Service, and finally ingloriously sank while at anchor at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. She is now owned by the Port of Oakland. The fully restored interior is much as FDR and his many guests, who included George VI and the future Queen Elizabeth, would have known it. The wheelchair-bound President had a rope-powered elevator installed that allowed him to pull himself up to the upper deck, and emerge through a door in the fake second funnel. What is touching is the unpretentiousness of it all; wicker chairs, a modest bunk in FDR’s cabin, and a broad settee in the stern where he could sprawl at presidential ease.