Story by Emily Reed
When retirement loomed on the horizon for Clanton’s Henry Edward Moore, he decided to build a boat.
“I had always been intrigued by the sea,” Henry Moore, 85, said. “There was just something about knowing that I could go anywhere in the world and nobody could stop me. It was a wonderful feeling.”
Moore pitched the idea of building a boat to his wife, Joan, who in turn reluctantly agreed to support the idea.
“I told him the only requirement I had if he did build a boat was for us to not owe any money on it,” Joan Moore said. “I didn’t want to go into debt to build a boat so I told him we would have to build it in stages as money allowed.”
The couple now spends time perusing stacks of photo albums and ship logs housed in their Clanton home to remember their travels.
“We had the time of our lives,” Moore said. “When we would visit a new place, we would meet so many friendly people. Everyone was out to have a good time.”
For many years, the couple owned Chilton Discount Pharmacy in Clanton.
Henry Moore enrolled in several classes at the trade school including a welding class to teach him how to use certain tools, and a cabinet making class.
“I wanted to be well-equipped to learn about welding rods and such,” Moore said.
Moore purchased material to make the boat from Birmingham including sheets of steel.
“I bought around 30 tons of steel,” Moore said. “It was a well-built boat.”
Moore also purchased blueprints for the boat from designer Bruce Roberts who was from Australia.
“I studied the blueprints for over a year,” Moore said. “I looked them over as much as I could, and then I went from there.”
For many afternoons and early evenings, Moore spent time in his backyard constructing the boat.
“I would look out the window and see him out there,” Joan Moore said. “He had a lot of fun building the boat. It was definitely a big task.”
Details of the boat included an 85-horsepower diesel Perkins engine, a mast that was 52.5 feet from the water, a 13.5-foot beam, and the boat weighed 28,000 pounds.
The boat was given the name “Sweet Talk” after Moore let his wife name it.
“He told me I could give the boat a name so I chose Sweet Talk,” Joan Moore said. “The reason I chose that was because he had to use a lot of sweet talking to talk me into letting him build a boat.”
While the couple admits friends, neighbors and members of the community were skeptical that Moore could construct a boat, the finished product impressed everyone who had doubted Moore’s abilities.
“I think there was a time when people thought we were crazy,” Joan Moore said. “We would be outside with this big boat in our backyard and tell people we were building it to sail around the world. I think for a lot of people that sounded really strange, but once we were finished with it so many people wanted to come take a look at it.”
One goal Joan Moore had during the entire process was to document the experiences with her camera.
“I have always thought that your memory will one day fade, but if you take pictures of everything then it helps you remember,” Joan Moore said. “There were many times I would walk outside with my camera and everyone would get mad I was snapping the pictures, but now we are glad we have them because they bring back good memories.”
Once the boat was constructed, the Moore’s drove the boat to Mobile to keep it docked in water.
The first trip in the boat was to Biloxi, Miss., but the Moore’s also spent time traveling to Havana, Cuba; Nassau, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.
“We ended up not sailing around the world,” Moore said. “But, the adventures we did have were incredible. There is nothing like being out on the water knowing that you can go wherever the wind will take you.”
After several years of sailing to various places in the 1980s and 1990s, Moore was approached in Florida by a fisherman who had spent time in Alaska and was interested in purchasing the boat.
Moore admits when he was first approached he was reluctant to sell the boat, but Joan thought it was a good idea.
“It broke my heart to sell it,” Moore said. “I had the time of my life on that boat.”
The fisherman was originally from Israel and eventually relocated the boat to his native land, where he spent many years sailing around the Mediterranean.
Several years ago, the Moore’s received a package from the fisherman who sent the Moore’s a picture of the boat on the water in Israel.
“When we opened it up, we were touched that he would send us that,” Joan Moore said. “He let us know what he was doing with the boat, and it was nice to know that he was getting good use out of it.”
Although the Moore’s attempted to contact the fisherman to find out more details about the boat, they have not heard any more about the boat.
“Sometimes I sit and wonder where it is right at a particular moment,” Moore said. “I don’t know where it is, but I hope that wherever it is, it is being taken care of. That boat was beautiful and sailed on the seas as smooth as silk. We may never hear any more about it, but at least we have our memories.”