What a treat that the MV Olympus sailed into the Rosario Marina on Orcas Island!
The yacht was launched on May 14, 1929 at the New York Yacht, Launch and Engine Company yard in Morris Heights, New York. George Callendine Heck, who commissioned the yacht to be the largest ever built by the yard, was a partner in a Wall Street investment firm. During the glamorous 1920's, Mr. Heck used the yacht to commute from his two estates on Long Island to Wall Street, requiring her low profile design in order to avoid having the bridges opened during his commute to work. At the time of her launching, her original name was"Junaluska" in honor of the lake in North Carolina contained within the vast land holdings where Heck spent his childhood summers.
The yacht was purchased by George Converse (Converse Shoes) and his beautiful wife, silent film star Mary Stuart. Both experienced and able yachters, they bring the yacht on her own hull from the east coast, through the Panama Canal to her new home in Southern California. The yacht stayed busy in the Southern California social scene, as George Converse serves as Commodore of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club in 1940. She also picks up several movie roles including use as a prop in the Shirley Temple movie "Captain January" and the Claudette Colbert/Rudy Vallee movie "The Palm Beach Story." She travels back and forth between Long Beach, Los Angeles and Catalina Island. The busy social scene of the late 1930's and early 1940's is abruptly interrupted by World War II and the yacht is conscripted into service as a Navy Patrol vessel.
The staterooms on the yacht feature a wonderful vintage swimsuit collection!
Following the War, the yacht is declared "surplus property" by the U.S. Government, and Washington Governor Monrad Wallgren finds out from his good friend, President Harry Truman, that the yacht is going to be auctioned. The State of Washington is the sole bidder for the boat, acquiring the ship for only $15,000 and putting her on the books of the State of Washington as a "fisheries patrol vessel." The yacht is renamed "Olympus" after Mount Olympus, the highest peak in the Olympic National Forest. President Truman and Governor Wallgren had worked hard on the legislation to form the Olympic National Forest and we are told that the re-naming of the yacht was in honor of one of Wallgren's proudest achievements. The yacht is completely refitted after her war service, at a cost of over $104,000 of Department of Fisheries funds. President Truman is aboard many times for informal and formal trips, fishing from Olympus' tender. The yacht transports President Truman from Bremerton to Seattle where he starts his "Whistle Stop" Train Campaign tour. The President signs the Olympus log "Harry Truman, Independence, MO, Temporary Address 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
Captain Rick Etsell came up to the Moran Mansion at Rosario to show us this log entry of the christening of Olympus at Rosario:
Mon Sept. 10, 1945 - Rosario
10:54 Lady Violet Boede formally christened this vessel by name “Olympus.” Gov. Mon C. Wallgren & Mrs. Mon C. Wallgren attending. Guests were Mr. Boede, Mrs. Newman, Mr. and Mrs. Niemeyer, Mr. Splitrock (press).
11:02 Dept’d Rosario
M.V. Olympus is used frequently by her owner to support charitable and environmental causes, and is "open for boarding" at various classic boat shows in the Pacific Northwest during the year, for all to admire. We thank Captain Richard "Rick" Etsell for the wonderful tour of the Olympus!
Visit the Yacht Olympus Web Site
Go to Rosario Resort Web Site