From "The Sun Living" Sunday magazine supplement of The Sun, 7 October 1990

A year ago Stephen and Roz Skochinsky were hard at work on their boat in the backyard of their home.

After carefully loading the Skochinskys' trawler, a yacht moving company hauls it down Interstate 15 toward its new
Huntington Beach Home.

S.B. couple takes homemade boat to sea

Sun Staff Writer

Stephen and Roz Skochinsky share a kiss for luck at Huntington Harbor dock.

'Compulsive Behavior' sets out on its first trip.
"It floats squarely! It floats perfect! I'm in shock. It's like dreaming right now. It's floating! It's not sinking!"

Rosalind Skochinsky

Photos by Alan Lessig

HUNTINGTON BEACH — The way the old sea captains would tell it, the white, red and maroon yacht delivered to the Sunset Aquatic Shipyard for launching was no Trump Princess. The wood-and-fiberglass frame was not quite long enough; its cabin much too small; and the paint job, well... could have used a bit of brushing up.

But the boat's owners, Stephen and Rosalind Skochinsky of San Bernardino, weren't snobs who absolutely had to have a fancier yacht than the guy in the next slip.

They were down-home folks who just hoped their homemade 36-foot wood- and-fiberglass trawler yacht, hammered and nailed together in a dirt field in their back yard, wouldn't leak, list or, little ship of horrors, slip into the sea.
Sink. Drown. Never to be seen again.

It's doubtful the hulky boat will ever be seen again in the back yard of the Skochinskys' Ogden Avenue house, where it was a neighborhood landmark and traffic stopper.

Passing motorists usually did a double take when they spotted the arklike structure towering in the field. Many slammed on their brakes to get a better look at the 9-ton yacht, which began taking shape two years ago when Stephen started the project.

When the big boat left safe land for uncertain seas Monday, on a big boat trailer, a man even slowed down to snap a picture of the departing yacht through the dirty front window of his car.

The Skochinskys also were acting a little like tourists - and proud parents. A video camera was at the ready to record important moments.

Such as when the three men from Moger Yacht Transport of El Segundo started backing a trailer under the yacht and began pulling away the supports it was resting on.

"You guys be careful," Rosalind warned as the camera on her shoulder whirred. "We don't want to be on' Funniest Home Videos'."

When someone reminded her that the television show pays cash prizes of up to $100,000 for a hilarious homemade video, Rosalind said she'd rather have a healthy homemade boat: "I don't," she added, "want the money."

Why would the Skochinskys pass up $100,000? Once they tell the story of why and how they built the boat, it's easy to piece together.

For many years, Stephen, 40, and Rosalind, 34, have heard the call of the ocean. Both scuba dive and fish, and they often used Stephen's two 20- something-foot boats to drink in the fresh, salty air.

But Stephen wanted a roomier ship for weekend getaways with friends and relatives. The Skochinskys also work in Huntington Beach, and the morning and afternoon commutes were getting old.

"We both like fishing. We both like diving. And the drive to Huntington Beach is a killer," said Stephen, who works as a foreman for the Braun Corp., which makes mobility equipment for handicapped people. "And I didn't want to fool around. No sense making another little one that I don't want."

The Skochinskys built their own boat for practical reasons: "We couldn't afford to buy it," said Rosalind, who works at Huntington Supply Co., which manufactures industrial fasteners.

And with help from relatives and friends - some donated money, others donated labor - Stephen and Rosalind finished their dream boat in two years.

And they only sank $40,000 into the project - about a third of what a similar boat would cost on the market, Rosalind said. "It looks pretty nice for a couple fools who don't know what they're doing," she added with a grin.

Following a set of professional shipbuilding plans, Stephen pieced together his ship using fiberglass, Douglas fir, plywood, glass, metal fasteners and an untold number of nails and wires.

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With Rosalind serving as chief helper, he also installed the boat's engine, two steering wheels, two bathrooms, a combination kitchen and dining room and two bedrooms - including a master bedroom with a built-in color television set.

Though Stephen had never built a boat before, the high school graduate had the engineering, woodworking and mechanical know-how to do the job.

"I taught him how to read the blueprints, (but) I couldn't build it," said Rosalind. "You have to know wood. You have to know electrical (systems). You have to know angles."

Stephen learned mechanics from his dad and during a stint as an auto body shop worker. The former Massachusetts resident also is a naturally curious guy.

"I take something apart and figure out how it's put together," said Stephen, grinning as he recounted the time he split apart a Rubik's Cube to see how the game worked.

Rosalind said Stephen's obsessive, compulsive drive to finish the boat as quickly as possible drove her a little crazy. Weekends melted away as Stephen hammered away on his yacht-to-be.

But his behavior also gave the boat a good name: Compulsive Behavior.

"He has always been one of those compulsive people - it's kind of like a bulldozer going through a field of rabbits," laughed Rosalind, recalling how frustrated she'd become when he'd want to spend every spare moment they had on the boat.

"Oh, Stephen," she remembers saying. "You're so compulsive about this. This behavior has got to stop."

Stephen's compulsive tendencies showed Monday morning as he nervously stuck the California license decals on the yacht's hull. "I don't know if I have the patience for this," he said, trying to line up the letters and numbers evenly.

Bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, both Skochinskys were nervous wrecks before and during the boat loading. But both managed to crack jokes while they snapped pictures of the yacht and fielded phone calls from excited relatives and friends.

"Think I should call KBON (radio) and request, 'Take Good Care of My Baby?' " joked Rosalind, placing her hand on her husband's chest. "His heart stopped beating."

Rosalind showed off the boat's paint job - accomplished with help from friends Robert and Veronica Rogers.

"We did most of this painting - the stripes and stuff at midnight last night," said Rosalind, inspecting the red trim before the transport company shipped the boat out.

"God, look at the red spots," said Rosalind, spotting crooked lines and splotches on the hull. "It looks like a 2-year-old painted it with a Magic Marker."

Stephen was more tense.

"Now I'm nervous," said Stephen, trotting into his yellow house and returning with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. "I quit awhile ago," he said sheepishly. "After this thing is over, I'll quit again."

As the movers removed the boat's wood supports to ready the yacht for loading, Stephen squealed: "Ahhhhh ... It's just hanging there. Time for breakfast," and popped a handful of Rolaids into his mouth.

Truck driver Chuck Gassaway, however, put a smile on Stephen's face when he questioned him about the boat's humble beginnings.

"Did you build it?" Gassaway asked.

"Yep," Stephen nodded.
"From scratch?"
"Yep," Stephen nodded again.
"You're supposed to have a Harley-Davidson in San Bernardino - not a boat," Gassaway howled.

If the Skochinskys were scared the boat might tip over while Gassaway and his helpers loaded it onto the trailer, they needn't have worried.

If they worried the yacht might tumble onto the freeway during the drive to Huntington Beach, their fears were groundless.

The real moment of truth came at the marina when a shipyard crane hoisted Compulsive Behavior into the water.

All the sweat, blood and tears the Skochinskys sacrificed were on the line.

Even with a gang of friends and family cheering them on at the dock, hearts beat faster and perspiration coated their bodies.

Then it was over. The boat was in the water.

"It floats squarely. It floats perfect. I'm in shock," Rosalind said, scurrying about, getting the yacht ready for a quick maiden voyage in the harbor. "It's like dreaming right now," said Rosalind. "It's floating. It's not sinking."

Sue Skochinsky, Stephen's cousin, and her four children were happy as clams, too.

"I thought it was great. Steve's an ambitious guy. He's a smart guy," Sue said. "As far as I'm concerned, he did a wonderful job. They spent every weekend on it - every spare minute. I hope now they'll have time to relax."

The Skochinskys promise to do just that. Next month, they will sail to Catalina Island to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Today, though, they were celebrating something else.

The maiden voyage of the Compulsive Behavior.

As the sun, an orange ball of fire, began dipping toward the west, Rosalind and Stephen stood hand in hand on the fly deck of their boat. It headed out to sea, and they lifted their arms in triumph.