July 3, 2013

Luxury Yacht Christina Belonged to Aristotle Onassis

christina-o-yacht-Churchill Sailed on the Christina eight timesLondon, 3 July:  Accustomed to cruising the Mediterranean with the rich and famous friends of its owner, most notably Winston Churchill, the Christina is currently moored at Chatham docks, where it is being offered for twenty-one million pounds.  In a sense the ship has returned to its roots, for it was originally a Canadian frigate commissioned as HMCS Stormont and took part in the D-Day landings.  Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis purchased the vessel after the war and refitted it as a pleasure cruiser, which he named for his daughter. After Churchill first dined aboard the yacht as a guest of Onassis in 1956, he wrote to Clementine: “It is the most beautiful structure I have seen afloat.” Between 1958 and 1963 Churchill made eight lengthy cruises on the Christina.

Churchill-OnasisOnassis & Churchill in the emptied pool of the ChristinaOn the first voyage, according to Churchill’s nurse Roy Howells, “the more energetic guests would swim but Onassis was usually to be found sitting on the deck cross-legged near Sir Winston’s chair, listening to his views.”  While onboard the Christina, Churchill visited many locations associated with his long career including Agadir and Athens, and it was on the Christina that Churchill made his final visit to the United States in 1961. Onassis and his celebrated guest had crossed the Atlantic from Gibraltar and had cruised the West Indies before proceeding to New York City and making fast in the Hudson River across from the West 79th Street Boat Basin.

Onassis willed the boat to its namesake, his daughter Christina, who in turn donated it to the Greek government.  Rechristined Argo, the ship fell into disrepair until it was purchased in 1998 by yet another Greek shipping magnate, John Paul Papanicolaou, who restored it to its former glory and, in homage to its heritage, changed the vessel’s name to Christina O.  Currently the luxury yacht belongs to an Irish consortium.

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