The country and the yachting community bid farewell to one of America’s most iconic citizens on Friday, July 19, with the passing of news anchor Walter Cronkite. Cronkite reported on countless major events during his time as a CBS news anchor, such as the bombing in World War II, the Nuremberg trials, the carnage of the Vietnam War, the assassination of JFK, the moon landing, the Watergate scandal, and the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Throughout his professional career his kind demeanor and journalistic integrity led to his unofficial title of “the most trusted man in America.” However, it was during his time off the air that Cronkite took to the sea to pursue one of his favorite passions: sailing. An avid, lifelong sailor, Cronkite would sail in the waters around his house in Martha’s Vineyard during the summer months, and the Caribbean in the winter. Over the course of his life he owned several boats, including a Westsail 42, and Camper & Nicholsons 60, a Sunward 48, and a Hinckley 64 ketch, all named Wyntje, after the first woman to marry a Cronkite in the new world.
In 2006, Cronkite was honored with the SeaKeeper’s Society SeaKeeper Award for his contributions to protecting and improving marine environments. In his 1996 autobiography, A Reporter’s Life, he wrote: “Sailing for me has satisfied many urges. For one thing, it feeds the Walter Mitty in me, that inner heroism with which James Thurber endowed his unforgettable character. I never sail from harbor without either having a load of tea for Southampton or orders from the admiral to purse that villain Long John Silver and his rapacious crew. I love the challenge of the open sea, the business of confronting Mother Nature and learning to live compatibly with her, avoiding if possible her excesses but always being prepared to weather them.” Walter Cronkite will always be remembered as the man who brought the news to the American people, the man for whom the term “news anchor” was coined, a passionate yachtsman, and a true champion of the sea. And that’s the way it is.