SYLPH, Brooklyn, NY – 1935
The coal-fired steamer "SYLPH" from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1935. Like the "GIRALDA" and the "SACHEM", she was a converted luxury yacht. Have fuel will travel… she fished from Fire Island, NY to Barnegat, NJ.
Originally purchased by the US Navy in June 1898 from her builder, John Roach & Co., Chester, PA, she was commissioned as a presidential yacht on August 18, 1898 at the Norfolk Navy Yard. She served in this capacity for Presidents McKinley (1898-1901), Roosevelt (1901-1909), Taft (1909-1913) and Wilson (1913-1921). In 1921, the Navy re-designated her as Patrol Yacht PY-5 and she sailed on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. In 1925, she was permanently moored at the Washington Navy Yard, where she remained until her decommissioning in April 1929.
Frank B. Clair of Brooklyn, New York purchased her in November 1929 (Mr. Clair was reportedly an ex-bootlegger.) Mr. Clair and his partner Captain John Nugent converted her into a party fishing boat and operated her from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. In 1935, her boiler failed and she was re-powered with a 400 HP Worthington diesel engine. In addition, during 1935, Jeremiah 'Jerry' Driscoll purchased Mr. Clair’s share of the business.
The "SYLPH" fished from Sheepshead Bay until April 1939, when she changed her business and ran a ferry service from Sea Gate, Brooklyn to the Battery in Manhattan. Alas, in 1941, her owners defaulted on the mortgage held by the Worthington Diesel Company and they took possession of the vessel.