For the past three years Gianfranco Ronchin has been building a boat in his garage, and not just any boat.
The 32-foot trimaran designed by a New Zealand company features unique features that make it easy to operate by just one person.
“I like to sail by myself, sometimes in the middle of the lake, at night and alone,” said Ronchin, a retired husband and father of five who has travelled extensively.
“People think I’m crazy but I like it.”
Using a good set of blueprints and a grinder and sander he has completed 60% of the fibreglass vessel and plans to launch the Farrier F-32 by September of 2016 at the Sarnia Yacht Club.
He’s spent about $30,000 on materials for a sailboat that sleeps up to six and would fetch well over $100,000 finished and on the market.
Trimarans are fast boats with a main hull and two smaller outriggers, or floats. Ronchin’s outriggers fold up, allowing the boat to be trailered elsewhere and set up quickly despite its size.
Ronchin, 69, plans to name it La Serenissima, the nickname for the city of his birth, Venice, Italy.
He said once it’s launched he’ll test La Serenissima in Georgian Bay before taking her to Florida and Cuba, and perhaps one day to the waters of Asia and the Philippines, he said.
“It’s in the blood. I just have to go,” he said. “Maybe there’s some Marco Polo in me.”
Ronchin moved to Sarnia from Sudbury in 1982 and worked in instrumentation and pipefitting.
A cyclist in his youth, he nearly represented Italy at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Cycling gave him confidence and taught him to keep an even keel, he said.
“I learned not to get too excited when you win, and not to get too excited when you lose. And it made me pretty stubborn.”
The boat, his second, has actually taken shape faster than he thought it would. But he’s in no rush to complete the finishing touches.
“People always say by the time you finish building your own boat you’ll be dead. So I have to leave something undone.”