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LA man who spent half his life building boat in backyard gets ready for launch

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POSTED April 27, 2014 7:44 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Miles from the sea, an 82-year-old retired mechanic has spent nearly four decades building a 64-foot boat in his backyard that he hopes to launch this summer.

Through the decades, Dillon Griffith’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have helped the Mystic Rose take shape at his home in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles Times reported in Saturday’s editions.

Griffith hopes to christen the 40-ton boat in August or September by launching it off the coast of Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. It’ll take a 32-wheel trailer and police escort to transport the boat from his landlocked house to the Pacific.

“People are already calling up to charter it,” Griffith told the newspaper.

Griffith estimates he has spent $1 million building the boat — even with free help. It will cost an additional $50,000 to move the boat to the water.

Griffith has a history with the sea. He was born on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and sailed a 75-foot cargo schooner around the Caribbean before landing in the United States in 1967. He bought a fishing charter boat, but he outgrew it.

That’s when Griffith began building the steel-hulled Mystic Rose in 1977 on his half-acre lot from designs drawn up by a Seattle shipbuilder.

“I couldn’t believe he could do it. Many times I thought he would just quit,” said his wife, Christine. “But I told him there was no way he’s going to drop this now, in the middle of the project.”

Every so often, the Coast Guard, police, firefighters and neighbors would show up in Griffith’s backyard to marvel at the progress. Griffith once had to rip out the boat’s internal walls so Coast Guard inspectors could look at his welding.

Once completed, the boat can sleep 25 people and will include a refrigerated hold capable of storing 10 tons of fish.

 

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