A sailing we will go... finally!

Doris and Jack Leibrock stand beside the "Dorane", a 33 ft. sail boat Jack built in his backyard in Grove City over an eight year period. It took several men, a crane, and a marine transport vehicle to move Leibrock's homemade sailboat from Grove City to Lake Erie. Everyone on the street came out to watch the moving day operations, and as the boat traveled through Grove City on its way out of town, it caused lots of excitement. See story inside for more information.

ThisWeek photos by Marcia Thompson

Grove City boat builder is finally under sail

Grove City-Southwestern
This Week Editor

If you traveled down Gunderman Avenue in Grove City recently you may have seen what looked like a "fish out of water". After all, of what use is a huge sailboat in lakeless Grove City?

Jack Leibrock was the talk of the neighborhood - and indeed, the whole town — when he moved his 33 foot long sailboat from his back yard to the front yard.

Jack began building the boat eight years ago. After countless hours of work, it was finally ready for a voyage overland to Lake Erie.

"We've had boats before - mostly outboards," said Leibrock, "but I've always wanted a sailboat, so I decided to build one myself."

He looked at many different designs before sending for plans from Glen-L Marine in California in 1982. During the winter and spring of 1983, he started cutting out forms in his basement, and construction in the backyard began in earnest when the weather warmed up. The boat was started bottomside-up. Leibrock began by building a temporary plastic shed-like protection for his project. By the next spring, he was ready to turn the boat over and begin work on the cabin.

The sailboat is 33 feet 8 inches long, 10 feet wide, and sleeps five people. It draws 4 feet 6 inches of water, weighs 9,000 pounds, and can be operated by two people when it's under sail. It comes with a 20 horsepower diesel engine, which Leibrock says will reach a top speed of about 8 mph.

The 40 foot high stainless steel mast weighs 300 pounds. The boat is actually a cutter with one mast and three sails.

Leibrock said he has about $30,000 in the boat so far, but that its value will increase once it's in the water.

"The costliest part was the engine and the standing rigging - the steel mast and boom," he said.

"Lake Erie is about the closest place we have around here that can handle a boat this size," he added. He and his wife, Doris, looked at lots of locations in northern Ohio before selecting a marina at Port Clinton.

With the help of his brothers and friends, the use of a big crane, and the transportation provided by a huge marine transport vehicle, the boat was moved recently and put in the water for the first time.

Leibrock admitted he was a little nervous about it. He and his wife traveled with the boat and stayed on it its first night in the water so he could watch for any possible leaks. "This is really a low-tech boat," Leibrock said. "There's not a lot of gadgets on board."

He has a ship-to-shore radio, depth sounder and compass. The quarters below are equipped with an alcohol stove for cooking, a galley sink and an ice box to keep foods stored at cool temperatures. The Leibrock's plan to ply the boat around Lake Erie for the next couple of years until he retires, then they hope to travel the Great Lakes to Buffallo, NY, go down the New York Barge Canal to the Hudson River, and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Their first trip will be up and down the Atlantic Coast.

"We'll probably dock the boat permanently somewhere along, the East Coast — maybe the Carolinas after that," Leibrock said.

The boat is named the Dorene, a combination of the first three letters of his wife's name (Doris) and the last three letters of his daughter's name (Diane).

His daughter, Diane, has kept a nautically-decorated photo album to show the progress on the boat over the years. She lives in Boulder, Colo. His son, David, lives in Whitehall. The Leibrocks have three grandchildren.

Although Leibrock did all the work on the boat himself, his brothers have been on hand to help him move it when necessary and are looking forward to sailing with him occasionally.

An electrician by trade, Leibrock said he enjoys fishing and boating and did a lot of flying before he got so involved in boat building.

How does Doris feel about becoming a sailor? She's a little reluctant - but game - as long as the first few times out are short trips on calm water!