BOSTON – President John F. Kennedy loved the sea, and perhaps nothing represented that love more than the wooden sailboat the family bought when he was just 15.
The 25-foot Victura is now on display outside the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston from May until November, where it is subjected to a constant assault from the elements.
Every year it needs 100 to 125 hours of preservation work, from general repairs to sanding, as well as paint and varnish touchups.
The foundation has previously relied on private donations, including some from members of the Kennedy family, to pay for upkeep of the sailboat, but it started the public campaign this year to raise its profile during a yearlong series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of Kennedy's birth, Executive Director Steven Rothstein said.
"The president loved the ocean and the water from his early days to his days in the Navy to his time in the presidency, and he had many fond memories of the Victura, both as a child and from when he was dating the future first lady," Rothstein said.
The boat can be seen in several famous photos of Kennedy and his family at their Cape Cod retreat.
Victura, which means "she who is about to conquer" in Latin — a subject Kennedy struggled with in school — remained his escape even during the presidential years.
He loved the sailboat so much that he would doodle pictures of it in his notebook during tense Oval Office meetings.
The now 85-year-old antique sailboat is one of about 200 Wianno Seniors built.
The fundraising campaign, which ends April 19, raised more than a quarter of its goal on the first day. Anything above the $25,000 goal will be applied to future preservation efforts.