The Woodwards Build a Boat

"El Shaddai" loading onto semi

Sharron & Gary Woodward


Tony Stegman & Gary

Seventeen years of planning and building came to fruition this past Wednesday, September 7, for Gary and Sharron Woodward of Wiley.  A fifty-three foot sailboat they started building those many years ago, saw the full light of day for the first time, as it was moved outdoors to be loaded onto a semi to make its trip to the Gulf of Mexico and points beyond. 

The moving crew and crane operator made last minute adjustments on the placement of the boat christened, “El Shaddai” onto the semi before bracing it into place.  Sharron Woodward said the name means ‘God is great’ and felt that reflected her and Gary’s Christian beliefs.  Once it’s on its way, the craft will be launched at Seabrook, Texas to check out its sea-worthiness before it begins its maiden voyage to the Florida Keys.  Sharron said, “If all goes well, we’ll be sailing into the Virgin Islands and parts of the Caribbean Sea by November until around May of next year”.   

Gary Woodward built the boat from scratch, from plans detailing how this particular style of boat would be assembled.  He had help along the way, as Tony Stegman assisted with construction for over a decade, and took time off from work to see all those long years of labor come to a climax.  Construction was a start and stop operation over the years on the hand-crafted vessel.  You don’t find and melt and mold 16,000 pounds of scrap lead to form the keel overnight; or outfit a 135 hp Perkins engine into the hold, or design three cabins that sleep two persons each, or frame the metal hull to just the right specifications in a couple of weeks work.  Once the boat gets to the Texas harbor, it’ll be outfitted with two masts, sails and rigging.  The lead mast will be 50 feet tall, and the second mast will measure 30 feet.  Wind power will take over once the boat is out in open water and the engine will be used to navigate it in and out of harbor.   

Sailing isn’t new to the Woodwards.  Sharron said they’ve been sailing a smaller 26 foot boat for a number of years, on both and Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as various lakes around the country.  They’re no strangers to the sea, and are looking forward to this ocean-going venture.  Sharron Woodward promised some ocean-going photographs once the ship was launched in the Gulf of Mexico.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: communityFeaturedRecreationWiley


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