ALMOST 40 years after selling the yacht he built from the hull up, Ken Harrington has been reunited with his pride and joy.
In New Zealand in the late 1970s, Mr Harrington was looking for an alternative lifestyle. He also wanted to live in Australia – something which wasn’t easy for a “kiwi” back then.
So without any boat-building skills, welding skills, the upholsterer put away his knitting needle and went about following the plans he had drawn to the millimetre, or as Mr Harrington would have it, “less than a millimetre”.
“Somebody said, ‘what are you going to do, sew it together?’,” he recalled.
The yacht, Koru11, was built entirely from offsets with a metal hull, and sailed to Australia with wife Norma and their two children and four crew. The family landed with $120 in their pocket, which they sent to friends who’d had problems with their own boat in Nauru.
They got jobs, kept the yacht and two years later decided via family vote to sell the vessel which had enabled their new life.
Mr Harrington still remembers that the 46-foot, 4 and three-quarter inches boat fetched him $57,000, enough to buy a house at Wynnum.
Norma, who helped built the boat, but can’t swim and doesn’t like water, says it gained the four inches somewhere along the way.
They’d had their adventures, including high seas, the 10 days to Australia, and a very close call with one of the world’s largest sea tankers.
But time had come to move on, and that’s what they did. That was, until Mr Harrington’s daughter was trawling Facebook to perhaps buy a boat of her own.
There it was. Koru11 in all her well-kept glory, sitting in a harbour in Hobart waiting to be sold for not much more than Mr Harrington got for her 38 years ago.
The family flew their parents to Hobart for Christmas to see her, and to talk to the owner.
“For all the dramas we had, we never felt unsafe in that boat,” Mr Harrington said.
“I know it sounds strange, but to see her again really gave us closure. She looked the same as she did back when we sailed to Australia.
“I was amazed. There she was, 41 years old, with the same rigging.”
Mr Harrington said they were never able to finish the boat, but the new sets of owners had managed to put in some new interior work.
But he said he recognised most of the components he’d installed, right down to the navigation system.
“What we’ve done with our lives, some people can only dream of,” he said.