Hopes to salvage Viking boat

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 21 Juli 2013 | 19.55

ONE of the biggest drawcards from February's Australian Wooden Boat Festival is now languishing at Franklin in need of some TLC.

The 11-tonne pine and oak Viking boat Rusich made a 13,500 nautical mile journey from the Volga to the Derwent for the festival.

But the adventurers who brought it to Tasmania on a journey of goodwill have reluctantly gone back to Russia without it because it is unseaworthy for open ocean sailing without about $25,000 of repairs.

The Russians who built the boat as a non-profit venture cannot afford it.

A consortium of local marine heritage enthusiasts hope to convince federal authorities to waive hefty import-export fees in the interests of acquiring the vessel as a tourist attraction for Southern Tasmania.

Ship broker Laurence Burgin, of Franklin Marine, said it was difficult to value the boat, but a couple of experts had estimated it at around $80,000.

Franklin resident James West, 62, who has Russian heritage and speaks the language, has been keeping in touch with the Rusich's owners on behalf of the would-be buyers.

The boat is currently under a Customs Control Permit that expires in October. For the boat to be able to be sold it must be officially "imported" to Tasmania and be subject to significant federal taxes.

Mr West said import taxes, GST and other fees could amount to more than $15,000.

He said supporters of the Rusich had been lobbying MPs and were in contact with Customs hoping the fees could be waived.

"It would be a magnificent gesture by the Australian Government if this could be the case, as it would save the intending purchaser [significant funds] which could be put towards the cost of repairs and the restoration of the magnificent vessel," he said.

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