But there are plenty of Wesmac DIY’ers who have chosen to do even more of the construction for themselves. In Richie O’Connor’s backyard in Farmingdale, New Jersey, sits a nearly completed Wesmac 42. The aft deck isn’t in yet, and the interior needs some finish work, but all of the major components have been installed.
“I plan to do some serious fishing with her,” he says, “and one day take her down the Intracoastal with the wife.” O’Connor’s a bit different from other DIY’ers because he chose to purchase just the hull and superstructure from Wesmac and has installed everything else himself or, when absolutely necessary, with the aid of subcontractors.
“I’m a welder by trade,” he admits, “but I do a lot of fiberglass work. And I enjoy it!” One of the first things he did when he began construction was purchase a vacuum pump and build a 10'x16' “vacuum bench,” a metal frame with marine plywood on top that’s covered by a fiberglass skin, which allows him to make all of his own fiberglass panels from scratch.
Although O’Connor is doing as much as he can himself, he’s still very reliant on Wesmac for guidance. “Steve [Wessel] has been great to me. He let me go around his shop and measure whatever I needed…I have the same stainless steel rudder and skeg that [Wesmac] uses.” Prior to the hull’s delivery, O’Connor even purchased the exact cribbing materials as Wesmac employs—from stands to planks—to make sure that his hull had the structural support it needed during the build process. Even now, many months later, Wessel is still there for him. “I’ve got an open line to him…he gets right back to me,” explains O’Connor. “It’s like a lifeline!”
Perhaps his most difficult task was ensuring the alignment of the shaft and shaft tube, which were built by Rose Marine of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Shaft placement is critical as it determines the location of the single 700-hp Lugger diesel, which he purchased as a sales package along with an 8.5-kW Northern Lights genset. To install them he had to build a special gantry consisting of an I-beam and some A-frames. He even cobbled together his own greenhouse so that he could work on the boat throughout the winter months. Such is the ingenuity of Wesmac devotees.
As with Wells and many other Wesmac owners, the fact that O’Connor has friends and relations who are handy in certain areas has made things a lot easier: “I have volunteers who come and help me out. They make a big difference.” But even with all the help, he’s faced a few setbacks, the biggest one being the passing of his chief woodworker, Jimmy Farrell, a few months ago. “He had the love of building boats,” O’Connor remembers. “It’s going to be tougher doing it without him.”
But O’Connor presses on, and plans to launch the completed vessel early this winter. “I love doing this stuff. If you’re going to build a boat, you’d better damn well enjoy the journey!”
So what advice do these DIY’ers have for folks who are thinking of undertaking a project like this? “Be sure to have lots of subcontractors,” advises Wells. O’Connor adds that planning is critical. “There’s going to be enough hidden things, so if you don’t plan and think everything through, you’re going to get in trouble.” They both acknowledge that there’s a strong possi-bility you won’t save money, and in some cases, you could spend even more. DIY boatbuilding is for the love of the pro-ject. But both agree that starting with a tried-and-true hull from a helpful builder makes all the difference in the world.
Wesmac, (207) 667-4822.
This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.