Kerry was ‘briefly’ on yacht in Nantucket Wednesday

As the crisis in Egypt unfolded, a far more minor intrigue arose in Nantucket: Was Secretary of State John Kerry on a yacht Wednesday or not?

Briefly, he was, it turned out.

On Wednesday, a CBS News producer snapped a picture of a yacht and reported that the secretary was on board. The White House State Department initially called that report "completely inaccurate" but did not elaborate on Kerry's whereabouts, saying only that he was working all day and phoned in to a Situation Room meeting on Egypt that afternoon.

Since the yacht photo was published, the Boston Herald has been tracking Kerry's whereabouts on the island. On Thursday, the paper photographed the former senator walking down Federal Street, followed by a pictures of him getting into a kayak that same day.

“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day, including participating in the president’s meeting with his National Security Council and calls with Norwegian Foreign Minister Eade, Qatari Foreign Minister al-Attiyah, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, Egyptian Constitution Party President ElBaradei and five calls to Ambassador Patterson on that day alone.”

An aide said Kerry was not on the boat during the Situation Room meeting or while working with foreign leaders and the U.S. ambassador to Egypt.

On the 4th, Kerry had phone conversations with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr, Egyptian Constitution Party President ElBaradei, Norwegian Foreign Minister Eade, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Qatari Foreign Minister al-Attiyah, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, and Emirati Foreign Minister bin Zayed.

Kerry just returned from a two-week, 22,500-mile trip to Asia and the Middle East, his fifth to the region since taking his post in February. His main focus was on restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, as well as the civil war in Syria.

But the State Department's initial denial only made it seem like Kerry was trying to hide something.

"He doesn't have to sneak around, he deserves [a] working vacation, but his people are cagey about saying it," Al-Monitor reporter Laura Rozen tweeted.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Josh Hicks · July 5, 2013