Former presidential yacht to be restored at Maine shipyard

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BELFAST, Maine (AP) — A private shipyard is preparing for a painstaking stem-to-stern restoration of a floating piece of presidential history.

The Sequoia is a 1925 motor yacht that served eight presidents before being sold by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

French & Webb, a custom boat building company, was tapped for the restoration by the current owner. Strict guidelines must be followed because the vessel is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s slowly happening, but the needle is moving,” Todd French told the Bangor Daily News.

For now, the 104-foot vessel remains under a white tarp. Behind the scenes, workers have created a three-dimensional model because the original design plans couldn’t be found, and assembled materials including longleaf pine from the Southeast and white oak from Denmark.

Once the physical work begins, likely in the spring, the restoration of the Sequoia should be a three-year project, he said.

Over the years, several different vessels have served as a floating White House for presidents.

The Sequoia was designed by a Norwegian-born naval architect and went through a couple of owners before going up for sale following the stock market crash of 1929.

President Herbert Hoover encouraged the Navy to buy the vessel, and began using it as a presidential yacht.

This Sequoia holds plenty of presidential history: John Kennedy celebrated his last birthday aboard the vessel; Harry Truman held atomic arms talks with the leaders of Canada and Great Britain after World War II; and Richard Nixon hosted Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

The vessel, which is owned by FE Partners LLC, a private investment firm based Washington, D.C., has been in Belfast since 2019. The pandemic delayed the start of work.

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