PEABODY — The first journey for the 45-foot mahogany trimaran built by late machinist and master craftsman Wilson J. Lobao Jr. is not going to be on the water.
Instead, for the first time in 32 years, the boat will travel out of the yard at 327 Lowell St. on the back of a flatbed trailer for a 2.8-mile trip north on a section of Route 128 — which will be closed to traffic — under police escort.
Its destination is Pope's Landing in Danvers around 2 a.m Wednesday morning.
On Monday, a 100-ton crane from Astro Crane Service of Boxborough was able to pluck the newly renamed "Wilson's Legacy" over some trees and out of the backyard, lowering it onto a flatbed truck in the driveway.
Around high tide at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, with about 100 people expected to show up, the Roger Simpson designed Liahona Trimaran is scheduled to be lowered into and touch the water for the first time since Wilson Lobao began building the boat with his father in 1984.
The boat will then be motored to Wareham, and later it will undertake a month-long journey to Florida along the Intercoastal Waterway.
Lobao was 76 when he died in a freak accident in his backyard on Aug. 28, 2017.
He was apparently clearing some brush by a small stream when a stone retaining wall collapsed on him. He was standing less than 30 feet from his boat, according to his family. They set up a GoFundMe page to defray the cost of moving the boat to the sea.
Lobao was a Peabody High graduate who had studied mechanical engineering at the University of Lowell and served in the Air Force testing rocket engines in California, according to his obituary. He worked for Ted Hood Sailmakers in Marblehead and had a passion for boating.
For 32 years, he had been building the trimaran, formerly named "Foxy Lady," in his backyard, and at the time of his death, it was still unfinished. It was a labor of love, his family said. Wilson Lobao had started the boat with his father, and those who have seen it spoke about the Lobao's craftsmanship.
And the trimaran, with its unusual — almost alien-like — shape, had become a land-locked landmark along busy Lowell Street.
However, after Lobao died, the fate of the boat became uncertain, said Lobao's daughter-in-law, Lisa Hanselman, of Stratham, New Hampshire. Hanselman is married to Lobao's stepson, Carl Hanselman Jr., who is the son of Lobao's wife, Peggy. They were married for 15 years. Peggy Lobao died five months after her husband, at age 77, from cancer.
The family could no longer afford to keep the house, Lisa Hanselman said, so the property was eventually sold to Timothy Callery, with the stipulation that the family had a year to find a home for the boat or have it salvaged. They were praying to find the right buyer.
At least six different people showed genuine interest, and the last person nearly took ownership. But this person backed out of taking the boat, with time running out in August.
"We were pretty much at the end of our rope," Carl Hanselman said.
The family was not selling the boat for profit, but giving it away to anyone who was willing to cover the cost to move it, and the estimated $50,000 it might take to finish her.
Lisa Hanselman said that when the sixth possible owner fell through, she reached back out to anyone who had showed interest, including the couple David Stennett and Court Taus of Marathon, Florida. They were still interested and agreed to finish what her stepfather started. The boat still needs electrical, rigging and other work. It's going to take another two years to finish, they estimate.
"They love the boat," Lisa Hanselman said.
Carl Hanselman said the cost to move the boat is not cheap, about $6,000 for the crane and $11,000 to move it to the water. Noting that the boat took shape in the yard since 1984, "for many people, it's been there their whole life."
Stennett and Taus admired Lobao's handiwork, saying every single piece of it was built by hand, including fabricating brackets for the trimaran's trampolines.
"He fabricated the chainplates that the mast will attach with," Taus said. "He did everything on this boat."
Stennett, Taus said, is a fan of multi-hull boats. A trimaran is a boat with a main hull and two outrigger hulls on each side. Stennett spotted the boat on a multi-hull appreciation site about a year ago, but he and Taus were not in a position to do anything at the time.
"But when the potential owners backed out," Taus said, "...and they put the boat back out there, we said it was time to do something — she (the boat) was not going to get cut up."
Taus told the family to give them some time, the date of the move was extended a month, and the marine logistics company Brownell Systems of Mattapoisett changed their dates to give them time to do reinforcement of the fiberglass on the hulls, get the bottom painted and the systems in order so she could be ready to float.
Since the boat has yet to be rigged, it will be motored to Florida.
Taus said the boat has a "beautiful" Yanmar 75-horsepower turbo diesel marine engine, which was installed in 2000 with just 1.9 hours on it.
A Wilson's Legacy Trimaran Facebook page has grown three-fold in the last month, Taus said.
People are uploading videos of the boat being lifted in the air, and people are ordering items from the couple's wish list on Amazon. Folks are showing up with plumbing fittings. A friend of Lobao's who owns a machine shop created the hull identification number tags and donated them for the boat.
"The whole community has been involved," Taus said. "People stop and wave, and stop in and get pictures."
"Wilson was such a great craftsman," Sennett said, "even from woodworking to fiberglassing and even doing all his own stainless steel fabrication, I can't even say how much of a craftsman this man was. He was truly amazing."
Sennett is no stranger to trimarans.
Before he was born, his father started building a 35-foot trimaran in the backyard of his home in California, Stennett said.
He said he was 3 1/2 when his family moved aboard the boat after it took his father five years to build. They "stomped around" San Francisco, and in 1971, Sennett was halfway through third grade when they "went out the Golden Gate bridge, hung a left and never looked back. Went through Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, through the canal, Jamaica, Bahamas and then we hit Florida three and a half years later."
His parents took him on a second trip around the Caribbean in his younger years. He ended up buying the boat from his father, rebuilt it, sold it, and got a smaller boat. He said he has spent 13 years out of 55 living on land.
Taus and Stennett, who works in fiberglass repair, plan to live out the rest of their years on Wilson's Legacy.
"She will be able to take us anywhere in the world where we want to go," Taus said.
The plan is to take the boat to Wareham and leave it there with a friend while Stennett undergoes shoulder surgery. Then, they will head down the coast.
Both Stennett and Taus have earned their captain's licenses, she said. Taus spent 25 years in the construction industry with know how of woodworking and custom carpentry. She also spent her youth traveling around the country and has since fallen in love with sailing as an adult.
Stennett said he is honored to finish Lobao's dream, but a lot of work needs to be done, including the installation of the mast, rigging and boom, along with electrical and interior painting. The outer hull used to be natural wood, but due to the amount of sun in Florida, they decided to prime and paint it. They did some fiberglass repairs to the outside.
"She just needs lots of love," Stennett said.
Taus said they feel like they have gained a new family or an entire community in taking ownership of the trimaran.
She said people have stopped in the middle of busy Lowell Street and yelled: "Hey, are you getting that alien ship outta here?"
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.