SYLPH, Brooklyn, NY – 1939
The "SYLPH" from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY circa 1939. 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, the Navy permanently moored her 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. This picture was taken soon after her party boat fishing career ended; she began operating as a ferry and sight seeing vessel in April of 1939.