A WORLD WAR II PT BOAT RIDES AGAIN IN NEW ORLEANS, AND SO CAN YOU.
When I first heard the National World War II Museum in New Orleans was restoring an actual World War II combat-veteran PT boat, I sprang into action—I made a phone call.
The news struck a chord with me because these wooden boats (can’t really in good conscience call them warships) were a personal waypoint as I grew up. The stories about PT boats fired my imagination and interest in history, where guys on boats were doing their part in the war effort—as opposed to Navy ships that really were as foreign and unknowable to my young mind as Roman galleys, medieval castles, or sword-swinging knights on horseback. I felt a kinship with those crews as I read about Jack Kennedy and PT 109 or watched the Duke in They Were Expendable, and, yes, even Ernest Borgnine in McHale’s Navy.
Fast forward to March on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, when it all came rushing back as I stood on the deck of PT 305 (known as U.S.S. Sudden Jerk to her crew, the reason for which would become apparent on our tour of the lake at 26 knots). She puffed smoke from her side exhausts, as the rumble of three idling Packard V-12 engines filled her newly completed boathouse at Lakeshore Landing marina. This is a restoration, not a refit. The boat is as close to original as they could get it, with just a Raymarine gS series display at the helm, a genset, and seats (concealed in deck boxes) and a rail around the deck to help keep everyone on board and safe. Because it’s not just for dignitaries: Visitors can take rides, too ($350; pt305.org). Get your own feel for history and get on board. And keep an eye out for my full report in an upcoming issue.