Building 'Faith'

Friday, September 10, 2010
Poland residents Tom and Marsha West stand in front of "Faith," their handcrafted sailboat yacht. The couple plan to "see the world" when it is completed sometime next year. Ivy Jacobs Photo.

* Poland couple nearing completion of hand-crafted boat

POLAND -- The large, sleek, grey sailboat yacht sitting in Tom and Marsha West's yard is no laughing matter anymore.

"A lot of people made jokes about it at first," Tom recently told The Brazil Times. "Now, more and more people stop to ask questions about it."

What started as an idea more than two years ago is coming close to completion, witha 60-foot steel boat located in an unused tennis court next to his Poland home on State Road 42.

While most boats like the one Tom is building are constructed out of fiberglass, he formed the steel housing by hand because of durability and safety concerns.

"It's safer and something I can work with if it needs to be fixed," Tom said. "There are a lot of safety features built into the boat, including some in case of pirates."

The boat is also housed with various pumps, radios, hydraulics systems and four individual power sources for maneuverability.

"The goal out on the open sea is to use the sail and the wind," Tom said.

Tom explained other amenities include enough room inside for 12 people to sleep comfortably, two complete bathrooms, a spacious kitchen, a lounge and a large technology/navigation center.

"We could have up to 100 people on the boat if we wanted to," Marsha said. "But I can't imagine that we would want that many."

If weather and time permits, Tom said the yacht would soon be painted blue with white trim and its 80-foot mast and other rigging would be attached sometime next spring.

"It's named 'Faith,'" because with enough faith we'll get it done," he said with a chuckle.

When Marsha's husband told her he was going to build a yacht in the front yard, she was admittedly quick to reply.

"I told him I wasn't going to help, but now, I do," Marsha said while laughing. "I enjoy watching construction, seeing things -- whether a quilt or a building -- being built (or created) from inception to the finished project. Working on the boat is like putting a puzzle together."

The retired couple has shared the elbow grease to complete the project.

"We've had some help from family and friends," Tom said. "But I'd say (we've) done about 99 percent of the work."

Creating something from the ground up is nothing new for the couple, or Tom in particular, who have built their own home, garage, a barn, several pieces of farm equipment and even a telescope, including grinding the lenses, by hand over the years.

A real "renaissance man," Tom -- who has multiple degrees, including one in astrophysics -- has spent a lifetime acquiring knowledge and the tools to implement his creative abilities.

"I have all kinds of tools, welders, a woodworking shop, a saw mill and 40-50 acres of trees to use for lumber. It's just time to put them all to use," Tom said, adding that the couple also enjoys many artistic endeavors too. "Marsha quilts and does many other artistic things too. I have painted, done sculpture and even tried my hand at poetry a few times. Building this boat is really an art project for us."

In preparation for the dream trip of a lifetime, Tom and Marsha have been attending boat shows around the United States and reading as many books as possible about sailing.

"The dream really isn't about the boat, it's about seeing the world," Tom said. "If you don't have a dream, life gets pretty dull."

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  • QUOTE FROM UNDER PHOTO: "Poland residents Tom Poland and Marsha West stand in front of "Faith," their handcrafted sailboat yacht".

    So is his name Tom Poland or Tom West? Come on Ivy, do a little proof reading. You're supposed to be a pro. newspaper reporter. How long will it take the Times to correct the mistake??

    -- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Fri, Sep 10, 2010, at 11:02 PM
  • Hope they get enough support to get it hauled to the Gulf or Lake Michigan. The Travel Channel would be the perfect one.

    -- Posted by smallguysmalltown on Fri, Sep 10, 2010, at 11:29 PM
  • This is an awsome undertaking. I have driven past this project many times since it began. It has been pretty cool to watch this go from a frame that made me ponder the common sense of the owner to a nearly completed yacht. To Mr. & Mrs. West, please keep us informed of your travels once you are at sea.

    -- Posted by jddriver4960 on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 9:23 AM
  • Awesome!!!!!!!! What a great story and Cool Boat... way to go!!!!

    -- Posted by computerdx on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 10:22 AM
  • Awesome, Coach, looking GREAT. Just texted Heather, told her to check it out ,, we remember when you first started.Heather just laughed.. You two are so cool not to mentioned how great a tennis coach you were, We love you guys to death.Heather and Zack moving back here. how cool is that .. want to come out take a tour, its so cool.. our hats go off to the both of you .. just want to let you know we are so proud of you two, and we are proud you are a big part of our family.been through alot huh well coach,, sure youll be hearing from little miss Heather and Zack ,, We love you man,,,

    -- Posted by on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 11:20 AM
  • What an awesome story! These two really have a handle on life. It should be more about living dreams and making wishes come true, than struggle and hardship.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and I wish you all the best on your adventures!

    -- Posted by Oldtown on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 11:49 AM
  • tulie so you are inviting me to bed? Sorry, I like women.

    -- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 2:21 PM
  • How big is this boat? Isnt getting it to water gonna be an adventure in itself or have you started gathering the animals 2 by 2 and know something the rest of us dont?

    -- Posted by lifehasitsmoments on Sun, Sep 12, 2010, at 2:05 PM
  • This is one of the most remarkable stories I have ever read in the Times. I had to check the date to make sure I wasn't reading an April Fools edition. To acquire the knowledge and skill in one lifetime to construct something like this is a monumental achievement.

    -- Posted by ebrann on Sun, Sep 12, 2010, at 4:23 PM
  • I heard somewhere today that his original plan was wait until the Wabash River was high enough and then set it in there and sail out. Correct me if I'm wrong (and probably am) but isnt the Wabash full of locks that might make that impossible. Just curious what the dementions of this boat/ark are. Could it be trailered out?

    -- Posted by lifehasitsmoments on Mon, Sep 13, 2010, at 10:13 PM
  • Tom ,

    This is amazing! I thought about you from time to time and wondered what you were doing after you left Tri-West! I admit I never dreamed you would be building such a sailing vessel, but I want to know more after reading this article. I am still at TW starting year 30! I would love to hear from you....I am on facebook. I tried to find you there but couldn't get through all the Tom West names and Poland IN brought up zero. Eileen Slavens Lurker -art teacher

    -- Posted by eileenlurker on Tue, Sep 21, 2010, at 5:06 PM
  • Our family spent spring break visiting parts of "International Indiana" - - when we came through Poland, we were thrilled to see "Faith" from the road. We had come across this article while researching, and it was lovely to see the boat shiny and painted! It didn't look quite as large from the street, so I'm glad we saw the photo with this article. :)

    -- Posted by anknight on Tue, Apr 3, 2012, at 2:29 PM
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