PT-305, in bad repair and far from seaworthy, resided at Back Bay Boat Yard in Galveston, Texas, when she was acquired by The National WWII Museum. Tom Czekanski, the Museum's senior curator and restoration manager, led the trip to Galveston Island to retrieve her in April 2007. But despite PT boats' wartime reputation for being swift and agile, her trip home to New Orleans was anything but: The entourage was not considered safe on the interstate; instead, it followed a circuitous route along small state highways. Czekanski accompanied the boat every mile, in the driver's seat of the rear "wide load" truck—a vantage point from which, during the first 100 miles of the trip, he watched with trepidation as every bump shook loose parts of PT-305's ramshackle deck.
The decade that followed brought hundreds of volunteers, millions of dollars in monetary and in-kind donations, and dramatic changes to PT-305: the addition of hull length that had been lost during PT-305's postwar years (13+ feet), engine and electrical work (12,000+ feet of cabling and wiring), caulking (3 miles worth), woodwork (13,000+ board foot), painting (300 gallons), and over 105,000 volunteer hours from restoration volunteers, including WWII veterans, father-and-son teams, naval engineers, electrical engineers, retired Coast Guard captains, motor machinists, parts scroungers, historians, students, servicemembers, and many others.
Thanks to an overwhelmingly generous effort from supporters, the Museum was able to raise the funds necessary—via a successful Kickstarter campaign—to make PT-305’s future possible. We started with a goal of $50,000 for the campaign to #Launch305, and, in a month’s time, we saw $205,506 in donations.