There are project boats, and then there’s the 61-year odyssey of the 24-foot wooden backyard boat that appropriately will be named Enigma.
"The fulfilling of a dream is finally starting up again," Arthur Ray Brown, a 63-year-old Floridian who was giving up the boat he could no longer manage, told the Sun Sentinel newspaper. "I hope I live long enough to sail on it."
Brown's father, Frank, a Miami ironworker, began to build the stout 24-foot sailboat by hand in 1953, steaming and bending each plank, planing the lumber and melting the lead for the keel.
A work injury short-circuited the ironworker’s plans, and his son inherited the unfinished boat. Brown tended to the vessel, which is about 80 percent completed, but failed to advance the project. Now terminal lung disease has halted any hope that he will complete his father’s boat project.
So he’s giving it away to a nearby Irish immigrant — a professional boat captain — under the condition that Enigma someday gets completed, splashed and sailed.
"I'm 100 percent sure the right person is taking the boat," Brown’s daughter, Stephanie Goff, said of the family’s choice among more than 45 emailed inquiries.
“This is unique. This is like a bit of history that I get a chance to save," said Ian Walsh, the boat’s new owner. "I guess I'm a bit of a sucker for certain kinds of things."