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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Nothing like a dream boat

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tom West (right) hoists a MIG welder while his brother, Frank, steadies the machine. West is building a 55-foot sailing yacht which, when completed, will be ocean-bound. Melinda Quasius Photo.
With all of the recent wet weather and flooding, it would not be surprising if Tom West were building an ark on his property.

But West's boat is not going to hold two of every animal. Instead, when completed, it will be his home for weeks at a time on the open sea.

"A long time ago, I had an idea to go from port to port and visit the world," West said.

West, a retired teacher and Northview High School's girls tennis coach, has been traveling to tropical locations for vacation for several years now. While in Hawaii, he noticed other vacationers' boats and figured if he owned his own vessel, he would be able to stay as long as he would like.

On an unused tennis court next to his home in Poland, West has been using construction guidelines from Bruce Roberts, an English ship builder, to begin work on his sailboat yacht.

Research and design began more than a year ago, and construction started in the past few months.

The yacht will be 55-feet long when finished, and its mast will be 80-feet tall.

Inside, there will be three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a lounge and a cockpit.

Although most boats are being constructed out of fiberglass, West is building his out of steel for durability.

Currently, the shell of the boat is constructed. The sheets of steel to cover the skeleton are close to being ready to go up. He estimates the boat will be finished by April 2009.

West has taken some flack for his hard work.

"We're getting a lot of jokes about it," he said. "Some people think I'm nuts."

Even his wife, Marsha, was skeptical at first, but West is optimistic she will join in his enthusiasm. She is reading the book "Sailing for Cowards" to prepare herself.

West holds a degree in astrophysics, and a master's degree in physics, and is no stranger to construction.

He built the home he and Marsha live in, as well as a telescope and farming implements.

"It's a life story more than anything," he said about his work.

West said onlookers asked about safety concerns in the open waters, but his knowledge of the ocean goes beyond disaster movies.

He assures that not only is the ocean much calmer than most expect, but a boat like his is laden with safety features.

Inside the yacht, there are pumps, radios, hydraulics systems, engines, generators and various other safety precautions to keep the boat running and on course.

West is even including an automated steering system, which checks wind, location and waves to guide the boat safely over the water.

The unnamed boat will be almost entirely constructed in Poland and, when it is time to add the mast and sails, it will travel down to the Gulf Coast to have the rigging completed.

West intends to try the boat out in the Caribbean before navigating it in the Pacific Ocean. Eventually, he and Marsha may take the boat around the world.

It may have been some time ago when Tom West first dreamed of sailing from port to port, but with every afternoon spent working on his boat, he gets closer to fulfilling the dream.

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I know Tom. He is a great person full of a vast amount of knowledge. I've known him ever since I was a young boy and he has been my mentor for quite some time. He will complete this and he will be sailing, i'm sure of it!

-- Posted by OntheRight08 on Thu, Feb 28, 2008, at 11:29 PM

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