As Tammy Kennon (USA Today) put it, “some yachts have stage presence. When they enter a harbor, every head turns. Trumpy motor yachts have that hard-to-define appeal. Like a Frank Lloyd Wright house or a Rolls Royce, they are a product of their time yet possess a timeless appeal.”
We are so appreciative of Bernadette, owned by John Kent Cooke and Rita Bernadette Cooke, to participate as leader of the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club Regatta and Shipyard Cup Classics Challenge Boat Parade on Sunday, July 24 at 10 a.m. in the inner harbor of Boothbay Harbor.
This classic 70-foot motor yacht was built by John Trumpy in 1958 to be used as his own personal yacht and was named Aurora, (as were all his boats) and restored to its original condition by John Kent Cooke, former president of the NFL Washington Redskins. We agree with John who says “ All Trumpys are beautifully designed – not an ugly one in existence – but this one, with its clipper bow and fantail stern and the sweep of the sheer, is truly unique.”
Renamed Bernadette for his wife Rita’s middle name, John Kent Cooke embarked upon a major restoration and replacement of all systems and had further work done at Maine’s Brooklin Boat Yard in the summer of 2011. Bernadette’s topside planking was splined. Her topsides and superstructure repainted. All hull port lights were removed, rechromed and reinstalled. Finally, her cabin top stack was removed, rebuilt, repainted,and reinstalled. She received the Ocean Reef Club Vintage Classic Award for Best Restoration, and featured in “The Art of Trumpy Yacht Building” in 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland.
Although more than 400 Trumpys were built from the 1920s to 1970s, each Trumpy is unique. All yachts have a signature look and always the essential Trumpy embellishment: carved wood scrollwork on the bow that, on close inspection, incorporates a capital T.
The Trumpy shipbuilding legacy began five generations ago in the coastal city of Bergen, Norway, where Casper Trumpy owned a shipyard nestled at the foot of The Seven Mountains. Casper’s son John grew up working in the family shipyard, and returned to do so again after earning a naval architecture degree in Berlin, Germany. When Casper Trumpy passed away, John sold the business to the Bergen Gas Company, and with little left in Bergen, moved to America. Building skills and relationships, Trumpys began to be successfully designed and built for cruising the east coast of North America, the Bahamas, and Virgin Islands. In its day, Trumpys were the model of luxury, owned by the era’s famous sailors: Chrysler, Hughes, Guggenheim, DuPont, Whitney, and is currently prized by today’s collectors of wooden motor yachts.
The 104-foot Trumpy, Sequoia II, built in 1925 for Richard Cadwalader Jr., became the U.S. Presidential Yacht in 1933, entertaining Presidents from Roosevelt to Carter. Richard Nixon hosted Leonid Brezhnev on Sequoia, and Queen Elizabeth went aboard her in 1968 to visit President Lyndon Johnson.
In America, first generation John Trumpy was finding time to build government contract boats prior to the war, having designed several models, including a speedy Coast Guard boat used during Prohibition. During the war, government contracts increased and the workforce expanded rapidly from about 60 workers to more than 500. By the end of the war, Trumpy’s entire production was given over to building military craft. But when the war ended, Trumpy turned his attention back to the design and production of private yachts.
Bernadette was built 64 years ago in the Trumpy yard in Annapolis, Maryland. She is 70 feet long, 16 feet wide, and draws 4 ½ feet. She has a double planked mahogany hull, Virginia black walnut paneled salon, and features two cabins, main deck level galley, and a mahogany wheelhouse. Bernadette is all original but with modern systems and conveniences; new engines and generators, plumbing and wiring, 5 zone air conditioning, modern navigational aids, and original Trumpy designed furniture and maritime antiques.
John and Rita Cooke are summer residents in Southport. Bernadette’s summer home is in Boothbay Harbor, but cruises the Maine coast throughout the summer.
Home is in Virginia where they operate the prestigious Boxwood Estate Winery in Middleburg, Virginia. John was president of the NFL Washington Redskins for 18 years, president of Cooke Communications with newspapers in Florida and North Carolina, and a founding director/president of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the largest private, independent, educational scholarship provider in the United States.