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Modern Day Noah Puts "Ark" Into Water

There was no champagne christening, but a very unique boat was lowered into the water today for the first time. It looked more like a canal boat than an ark. And it went into the Ohio River, not into a great flood, but Local 12 News Reporter Jeff Hirsh tells us why the man who built the boat is kind of like a modern-day Noah.

The story of this boat is one of near-biblical proportions. Which makes the boat's builder a 21st century Noah ... wife included.

"Hon, don't worry."

Our noah... 72 year-old Don Theobold ... who took 17 years to build this 58 foot boat by hand, by himself:

"I keep a record and I've got 43-thousand man hours in this boat."

The Kumbayah, it's called, is wooden with a d fiberglass coating. Our Noah put the boat together, cubit by cubit, in a barn near Dayton ... then trucked to Washington Marine on the Ohio River ... where it was lowered into water for the first time.

"Well, let me be the first to congratulate you. It's in the water."

The obvious question... Why would a man take 17 years to build anything? The obvious answer ...a woman. Don's wife, Doris, hated the heat in their Florida retirement community ... and dared him to build a boat they could live on.

"Did you ever think to yourself halfway through ....? Yes, yes, I said this is not right. But after one day of goofing off, I'd go back to work on the boat."

There's still more to do ... last minute electrical work, for example.

"I got light in here and now I got to get lights back there."

Once the finishing touches are finished, Don and his wife will sail to Florida... Just them.

"How many people can this hold comfortably? Two. That's it? Two. One bed, two people."

Doris Theobold, Don's wife:
"Did you ever think he would give up? No, he went out there every day. Every day."

So, you might be wondering what goes through somebody's mind once the project he's been working on for 17 years finally goes in the water.

"Well, it hasn't sunk in. Sunk is a bad word, yeah, ha, you're right."

No problem. It floats.

Don's boat leaves Washington Marine tomorrow morning. It's first stop is another marina a few miles away, where final work will be done. The trip to Florida starts in a couple of weeks.
And if you're wondering how Don put in 43-thousand hours on the project ... he retired in his 50's and started after that. Don did have experience designing machinery on his job, but had never built a boat.




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