In the 1980's, I came across an interesting old derelict sailboat in a Jacksonville boatyard on the Trout River in the north side of Jacksonville.
A worker said the yacht had once belonged to Hitler.
I researched the matter, and found that during World War Two, Hitler had an 85 foot sailing yacht built for himself named "Ostwind".
His plan was to sail into England after Germany had won the war and accept Winston Churchill's surrender aboard the yacht.
Hitler's plan didn't work out, and the fate of the "Ostwind" kind of got obscured by postwar history. She reportedly sank in the Miami River and was later towed to Jacksonville.
I was not 100% sure the boat in my photograph is "Ostwind", but I ran across other stories that said in 1989 the yacht was transported from Jacksonville to Miami and sunk in the ocean off Miami Beach.
It had been purchased by a Jewish group headed by former Miami Beach commissioner Abe Resnick, a Lithuanian-American.
They turned the yacht into an offshore reef for fish habitat, and dedicated it to the memory of the voyage of the SS St Louis - "Voyage of the Damned."
A reef is named after the Ostwind.
I am not a historian, so this boat may or may not be "Ostwind", but I'm pretty sure it must be. Too many coincidences for it not to be.
Here is the story about the sinking and final watery grave of Hitler's yacht.
Hitler’s Yacht Sunk Off Miami Beach - Again
June 29, 1989
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ The remnants of Adolf Hitler’s yacht, sent to a watery grave recently by a group of Holocaust survivors, were refloated and sunk again Thursday in a deeper resting place off Miami Beach.
Air bags were used to raise the skeleton-like remains of the Ostwind from atop a shallow reef, where it was mistakenly dumped June 4 during ceremonies observing the 50th anniversary of the ″Voyage of the Damned.″
″We’ve said all along that ship has bad vibes,″ said Linda Arter, a marina worker at A-1 Marine and Commercial Wrecking in Jacksonville. ″It just doesn’t seem to want to go away quietly.″
The yacht, intended as an artificial reef, threatened marine life on the coral reef and was a hazard to ships.
An apparent navigational error caused the yacht to be dumped into 25 feet of water as 27 survivors from the SS St. Louis’ 1939 voyage watched.
The ceremony commemorated the United States’ refusal that year to accept the ship carrying 937 Jewish refugees, many of whom perished later in Nazi concentration camps.
A tugboat spent more than three hours Thursday pulling the 85-foot yacht underwater to a 250-foot-deep spot two miles offshore, where the steel cable was cut with a blow torch and the ship sunk to the rocky bottom.
The event was supervised by state environmental officials.
″This is an opportunity to retell the story of the Voyage of the Damned,″ said Rabbi Barry Konovitch of the Cuban-Hebrew Congregation in Miami Beach. ″A bit of good may have come from this event.″
The Fountainebleau Hilton hotel on Miami Beach put up $10,000 to move the Ostwind into deeper water.
The Army Corps of Engineers ordered the yacht moved or government crews would dismantle the remains and bill Miami Beach officials.
Prior to the sinking a Senate proclamation acknowledging the Voyage of Damned was read by State Sen. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, a Republican candidate to succeed the late congressman Claude Pepper.
The Ostwind was commissioned in 1938 by Hitler as an Olympic racing vessel, but it was never entered in competition and was used instead by Nazi officials.
Hitler apparently only used the vessel once or twice.
The United States took possession of the Ostwind as a war prize and it was used as a training craft at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., until it was sold as surplus in the late 1950s.
The yacht was then held by various owners in Florida and sold in the mid-1970s to a Nazi memorabilia collector from Massachusetts.
The collector brought the Ostwind to A-1 Marine and Commercial Wrecking for repairs. But the collector never completed work on the vessel and failed to pay for the dock space.
Marina owner J.J. Nelson took possession of the yacht in 1981. The boat was repeatedly vandalized and Nelson rejected an offer by a Nazi group in Chicago to buy the vessel for a shrine.
Last year, Nelson contacted Miami Beach officials about using the remains as a reef. It was transported last month from Jacksonville aboard a large barge.
Aug 02, 2019
by: Craig B.
As a ten year old, I lived walking distance from the yacht which was moored in a cove just north of N.W. 27th Ave. and N. River Drive in Miami. You could plainly see the name of the ship, as I recall it was painted white. We would climb aboard and jump into the river.
Jun 22, 2019
Around 1995. Hitler's boat was secured at the end of the dock at the home of Mr. William Robinson who lived in Mandarin and had recently bought the property. We all saw it there. Bill Robinson, of course, no longer wanted it and had it removed. He currently lives in Jacksonville at Epping Forest. He would be able to fill in the details of the boat's last days.
Mar 04, 2019
Ostwind, Just Island,Miami. FL 1957
by: Marlene Hilton
I lived on a sailboat docked at Just Island up the Miami river from 1953 through 1957.
At sometime in 1956 or 1957 the Ostwind also docked at the island. It had been purchased by a newly retired naval commander. John Lyman had just brought it down from the Chesapeake Bay area.
The yacht was in good condition but was strictly a sailing vessel. It had no motor, and had to be towed.John had plans for a charter business but as usual life turned out differently. John bought a home just a bit further up river and docked the Ostwind there.
I lost track of the Lymans and the Ostwind by the mid sixties.The yacht was very nice but not luxurious. It was quite chopped up into staterooms with sparse galley and lounge areas.
Feb 09, 2019
I did some bottom work on her in the 70’s she was secured up in water on the St. John’s river.
Pretty bad shape though you could walk the decks, go below and visualize what remained intact of the staterooms.
Dec 02, 2018
I worked down the street from this boat...
In the very early 80's I worked as a boiler operator for a paper mill which was part of a well know sheet rock manufacturer on the waterfront on Jacksonville.
While working a night shift I read in a Rollingstone magazine article about "Hitler's yacht". It mentioned the location and I realized it was a couple of addresses down from my location
After work I walked to where it was. It seemed so surreal to see this vessel in person.
I later heard that it had been moved to South Florida and sunk.
Aug 05, 2018
The boat or the people ?
by: Timothy Dobbins
Thank you for your response.
The night I was invited to sail on her was dark, little moon and many mosquitoes.Since all of the people were new to me, I heard very little about the details of the boat and the tour was quick.
I felt a little strange sailing downriver toward Mandarin, where she was berthed, on a boat owned and perhaps sailed by one of the most evil men In history. And in some sense, it was even somewhat difficult to enjoy the serendipitous moment of being invited to join my new friends given the association of the boat with the Fuhrer himself.
In this case, the people dominated the night and the memories that followed, not the means of transport. However the boat -the Ostwind- ,has found her place as a ghost ship in the recesses of my mind where memories lurk of an evening sail down the Saint John’s River, with three new friends and a fourth numinous spirit who haunts me and the world to this day.
Aug 04, 2018
I Was Invited for a Nice Cruise
by: Timothy Dobbins
In the Summer of 1978, I was invited to board the Ostwind and help guide her under power for a cruise one evening with the owner and his wife and a beautiful young woman named Brenda.
I had met the three of them that summer and we attended a Lou Rawls concert. That evening I began a relationship with Brenda, and I invited her down to Gainesville a few weeks later to hear me speak at the graduation of the senior class of Gainesville high school 1978.
So many stories about the Ostwind, and it’s owner and his spouse were friends with Brenda. There’s more to the story but more important to me, I would love to be in touch with Brenda Counsel, and Jody,the owner’s wife if they are still around.
Tim Dobbins email@example.com
Aug 05, 2017
by: Tom White
In the 80s when I was restoring a wooden Snipe the owner of the salvage yard allowed me to remove boards from the hull. They were two inch mahogany of which I still have half a dozen. I also was able to get several bronze four inch screws. I also took some pictures of the boat that is like the first picture in this story. If you have questions my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Mar 31, 2017
Re: the Ostwind
by: Liz Gavilan
According to my deceased husband Bob L. Gavilan, owner of The Old Book Shop on Beach Blvd in St. Nicholas, one of his customers, Horace Glass and his wife Jody, owned the Ostwind and was in the process of repairing it. Commemorative bars from the lead ballast were fashioned and sold to raise money for this project. I do believe it was a storm that came through that partially sank the boat and the Glass couple abandoned the project.
It is my understanding they relocated to the north but I do not know where. I do remember seeing one of the commemorative bars and some associated paperwork, like maybe a flyer, in my husband's book shop. I am thinking this was sometime during the 80's. I seem to remember that the ship was anchored in the Mandarin area.
email@example.com if anyone would like to contact me. Thanks, Liz
Jan 06, 2017
by: Ed Drury
I have a Certificate of Authenticity (dated 1972) issued by the Ostwind Museum of a piece of the mainsail from the Ostwind along with a reproduced picture of the yacht sailing off the coast of Florida. Caption under picture says the yacht was owned by retired Navy Commander John Lyman.
Nov 12, 2016
by: Hans Braun
I am a German. I was born in 1945 my father was a Kreigsmarine officer and He told me Hitler had only luxury vessel, a yacht named Grille.
After the war, the US Government decided to scrap Hitler’s luxury vessel, then one of the biggest private yachts in the world. The Americans didn’t want it to end up as some kind of memorial to the hateful regime.
Thanks for telling us about "Grille". I looked it up on Wikipedia and it was a huge vessel and like you say, it was scrapped. The yacht described in our article was one of two identical sailboats. This one was named "Ostwind" and the other named "Norwind". The citizens of Miami Beach had enough belief that Ostwind was truly Hitler's yacht that the purchased it and paid to have it towed from Jacksonville to Miami Beach. It was intentionally destroyed and sunk in the ocean off Miami Beach. You can read the New York Times article by scrolling down to our comment on July 29, 2014.
Sep 03, 2016
The boat was in the St. Johns River my friend and I actually went up to it many times. It was beached in the shallows in Mandarin.
Aug 17, 2016
I saw the Ostwind too near Mandarin, Fl. on east side of St John's river.
by: Bruce Taylor
Yes I too recall the Ostwind moored for extreme renovations next to a very big old Chris named Camelot.
The gent that met us just said we couldn't go aboard because of the deck being so wrecked. The man wanted to sell off Camelot & move on. His dream was to get backers for building some sort of attraction out of it.
Last note: I recall the transom lettering quite good as it was professionally done with a bit of flair.
If you know or remember a Bruce Taylor, owner of a boatyard in Orange Park, I was with Dr. David Scales in a small boat we came in from my business. I guess we were invited as prospects for Ostwind.
Aug 14, 2016
by: J. Byrd
Was docked near Jackie's Seafood kitchen years ago. Rumor was Jackie's brother owned it but may have been just docked there. Was just east of Trout River bridge. I boarded it covertly one evening and secured a rusted deck bolt for a souvenir. I still have the bolt.
Oct 05, 2014
Jacksonville, Late 1960's
The Ostwind has created many tales, and apparently two were built, identical. The Jacksonville ship I was told about, was in Mandarin at one point, or very close proximity.
A friend of my Father's had bought it for the lead ballast. We went one morning, early during shrimp season, probably late August back around the late 60's and shrimped from the decaying deck area as it was tied up to the owner's dock in the river.
It was dark and I don't remember much other than my Father and his friend talking about the boat, name and why he had it.... so the tales continue.
Aug 02, 2014
I goofed.. The yacht was named "GRILLE"..and was kept in BAVARIA.. After the war ..she was at the Great Kills Boat Marina on Staten Island , N.Y.
Then....she was next heard of in Kalifornia...
Been a long time...seem to get things backwards....:-)
Aug 02, 2014
Yup...BAVARIA was Hitlers Yacht....
Last I heard - she was in Kalifornia.
Was the Yacht that you see all the pictures of..with Ava and the gang aboard...
Aug 02, 2014
I remember the Ostwind during the 1980s being up on braces about 200 feet off the eastern shore of the St. JohnsRiver somewhere near Mandarin Point, just south of the Buckman Bridge.
New York Times Article About Ostwind
BOAT HITLER BUILT IS SUNK IN CEREMONY
By JEFFREY SCHMALZ, Special to The New York Times
Published: June 5, 1989
Never mind that the rumors are exaggerated and that the Ostwind was not really Hitler's personal yacht. He ordered her built and was aboard her a few times. And that was enough for the 100 Holocaust survivors.
As an airplane flew overhead pulling the sign ''Never Again,'' the 85-foot sailboat Ostwind - or, more accurately, what little was left of her - was sunk just off Miami Beach today as the survivors looked on from a nearby boat and applauded and cried.
Jun 12, 2014
HITLER YACHT ???
COL HAROLD THOMAS LENTZ, at the end of WW2, was made a military Governor of some sort in Bavaria. His office was Hitler's yacht. But, was it the yacht that was rusty and sunk in Florida?
I seem to remember it in California? Was there a yacht named Bavaria that belonged to Hitler? Anyone know for sure?
I have many SS items and an arm band from the Yacht Col Lentz used as his Office. He also dismantled a bar in the town there that Hitler hung out in, and it is now in a home in Maine. There were also a bunch of SS marked with SS ruins.
Mail me if you know about another yacht..or cabin cruiser? firstname.lastname@example.org I'm in Washington State now; back home in CO by June 19..
Jan 20, 2014
by: sail buff
After the war, the yacht went to England as a prize of war. It was donated to Canada and turned into a training ship. The navy renamed it the Tim. It was put for sale by the Canadian government. It changed hands 2 or 3 times because of the expensive repairs to put it in shape. The boat was renamed Helgoland.
Apr 18, 2013
Seen it .....
I have recently seen the ship in a very good condition on a wharf in Gaete(Italy). It is beautiful despite its former owner. And yes it looks like the ship on your picture.
Mar 16, 2013
Hitler's Yacht rebuilt in Jacksonville
About 25 or more years ago, A person was rebuilding one of Hitler's personal Yacht. A storm of hurricane hit Jacksonville and destroy the Yacht. This person did not want to rebuild it again and was towed to a junk yard at North main street. I would like to contact this person. please contact me at email@example.com
Oct 16, 2012
Ron, thanks for your observations about the Ostwind as she was towed past the Spanish River Bridge. I have cruised up and down the waterway for years, and you bridgetenders do a good job and make the trip a lot more fun. I'll bet you could write a book about the things you've seen.
Oct 07, 2012
Bridge Tender's Memory of Hitler's Yacht
by: Ron in Cocoa, Florida
Hi, I was a bridge tender in 1989 working on the 40th Street bridge A.K.A. Spanish River bridge
that goes over the Intracoastal waterway in Boca Raton, Florida.
I was working the graveyard shift when a tugboat with a barge was heading South. When I opened the bridge there was a very old looking hull of a sailboat on top.
If I correctly remember there was a swastika painted on the rear or front deck of the boat. (It was faded but still recognizable). I had very strong spotlights so I was able to get a good look.
Sep 23, 2012
by: M Kratzer
I have video from 8mm film of the Easwtind (Ostwind) while owned by Commander Lyman in the 50's my father (ex navy) was crew on the yacht during sailing excursions on the Chesapeake (Maryland).
The film was made (I was told) to promote leasing of the ship for private trips or parties. If interested in the video please email me
Jul 26, 2012
That Probably is Ostwind
I remember the Ostwind and that photo looks a lot like her. She was supposed to be the prototype for the Volkboats. My father had one of those but it sank in the Intracoastal waterway in Ft. Lauderdale.
I was under the impression that it languished for years in limbo due to an ideological battle which ended with a certain politically correct group towed it out into the Trout River and scuttled it.
I remember that you could still see the hulk at low tide from the old location of Jackies Seafood Kitchen. That would definitely tie into the picture - if someone managed to rescue it.
I always thought it was such a shame to do that to such a beautiful boat - especially since the limo of the same owner sold for millions recently. Who was it that said "those who deny history are destined to relive it"?