[The Brazil Times nameplate] Fair ~ 54°F  
High: 72°F ~ Low: 53°F
Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Journey of 'Faith'

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tom and Marsha West, Poland, Ind., have spent the last four years building a boat they named "Faith." Tom said the boat should be finished sometime this summer. [Order this photo]
For the past four years, Tom and Marsha West, Poland, Ind., have been hard at work building one form of transportation that is rarely seen in small town Poland -- a 60-foot steel boat.

The boat, named "Faith," is sitting in an unused tennis court next to their home on State Road 42.

"Can you imagine working on something everyday for four years?" Tom asked when explaining where the name came from. "You have to have faith that you're going to get it done."

The captain's chair sits inside the boat named "Faith." The trim in this room still needs to be finished. [Order this photo]
To finish the boat, Tom and Marsha still need to complete the kitchen/galley, the trim and the master bedroom. However, even with all the work left, Tom said they hope to be finished this summer.

The ultimate goal for the project is "that the boat floats," Tom said with a laugh. "We're building transportation here, so we can go someplace."

When asked where they want to go, Tom replied, "everywhere."

Tom West stands at the bow of the boat. He and his wife, Marsha, have been building the boat by hand for the past four years. [Order this photo]
"Faith" is scheduled to do test runs in the Gulf of Mexico after completion.

"We want to gradually find out how strong it is without risking our lives," Tom told The Brazil Times.

The couple plans to take the boat by truck to the Ohio River. From there, "Faith" will enter Kentucky Lake and head toward the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a man-made waterway that extends from Tennessee to Alabama to link boats from the middle of the nation to the Gulf of Mexico using 10 locks that raise or lower boats a total of 341 feet.

The master bedroom has a lot of work still to be done. Other items to be finished before the boat is complete include the trim, kitchen/galley and bathroom/head. [Order this photo]
"It's a lot shorter route than trying to go the Mississippi River," Tom said. "(The boat) will be a powerboat until we get to the Gulf. Then it will become a sailboat."

Tom formed the steel housing of the boat by hand.

Creating something from the ground up is nothing new for the couple though, having 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.

The stove inside the galley/kitchen of the boat is designed to sway back and forth with the boat to keep pots from falling or food from spilling. Tom and Marsha West have done all the cabinets and woodwork. [Order this photo]
"Faith" is housed with various pumps, radios, hydraulics systems and four individual power sources for maneuverability. The boat has enough room to hold 12 people comfortably with two complete bathrooms/heads, a kitchen/galley, a lounge and a large technology/navigation center.

The inside of the boat houses more than 100 four-by-eight sheets of marine plywood, as well as at least seven kinds of wood including oak, cherry, pine, walnut, mahogany, teak and more. The cherry and walnut woods came from the West's trees and cut from a sawmill Tom built years ago.

All of the wood, which is used for the walls, trim, cabinets, etc., has to be varnished, dried and sanded about five times.

Tom West climbs the ladder to get inside the boat. Tom estimated he's climbed it 30,000 times so far. [Order this photo]
The outside of the boat has 14 coats of blue paint.

"Can you imagine sanding that thing 14 times?" Tom asked.

When asked how he'll feel once the boat is completely finished, Tom replied with one word -- "relieved."

Tom said the most difficult part of building the boat was creating the 80-foot mast, which took him most of last summer.

"When you weld aluminum, it expands, contracts and warps," Tom told The Brazil Times. "That mast is made up of 21 different pieces that have been welded together, and it's pretty straight."

Tom explained when he was younger he had many different ideas about what he wanted to do when growing up. In his 20s, one idea included traveling by boat all around the world.

"I thought it'd be neat to go from port to port and see the world that way," he said.

During a trip to Hawaii, Tom looked at many boats.

"I was just goofing off, but that's when the idea came back to me. When I came home, I started looking up plans on how to build my own boat."

Tom said he didn't realize how much time, effort or money it took for such a project.

"I thought in two years, I'd have it done," he said.

Even though it's more difficult than Tom or Marsha imagined, Tom said he is enjoying the project.

"As an old man, I've done a lot of things, and it's hard to find something new or challenging," Tom said. "With this, there are problems to solve every day. It's rather challenging."

Challenging enough to test the faith of the West's.

"Each piece is very difficult," Tom explained. "Like putting the steel on the boat -- we could get one plate a day on it. When putting the plywood inside, sometimes it takes half a day to get just one in because you have to cut the patterns, try to fit it and go up and down the ladder all day."

Tom and Marsha have also had to deal with questions, comments and media.

"We've had more people from California come to see this boat than people from right here in Poland," Tom said. "A lot of people are really nice. But a lot of people aren't."

But no matter what struggles the West's have faced, the journey to build "Faith," has also grown their own faith.

"I watch to see if something flows or if it's difficult," Tom explained. "This has been difficult, but everything has flowed for it. Everything I needed has been there. The money for this has just kind of come in as we've been doing it. I don't know what's behind all this, but I do think it was intended."

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on thebraziltimes.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Just astonished, Marsha.....just hearing about it isn't enough...so I'm glad for the pictures. You are two brilliant people...George and Bev Hewitt

-- Posted by gbhewitt51 on Sun, Apr 1, 2012, at 8:01 PM

I've driven past there many times and never fail to glance over and see the progress. Good luck.

-- Posted by My Dime on Mon, Apr 2, 2012, at 8:39 AM

It really has been great to watch the progress and Faith coming to life! Good luck in your travels, I hope it's everything you want it to be.

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Mon, Apr 2, 2012, at 10:35 AM

Tom and Marsha, you're doing a beautiful job! Did you design the boat yourself, or if not, where did you find the design for it?

-- Posted by Browntruck on Mon, Apr 2, 2012, at 5:24 PM

Beautiful boat! Amazing story! Cannot wait to see the pics of her sailing in the Gulf of Mexico! Follow up story please!

-- Posted by Moon on Tue, Apr 3, 2012, at 9:11 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: