Pair off to sea on restored yacht

00:00, Nov 09 2012
Jason Kelman
REFURBISHED: Jason Kelman and Malin Vilkki next to their yacht, Kairos II, at Nelson Marina. The couple have restored it to its prime over the past three years. Photo: MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

A Nelson couple are sailing away on a boat they have lived on while restoring it at Nelson Marina.

Thirty-three-year-old Malin Vilkki has led the major transformation to restore the traditional wooden yacht Kairos II back to its prime over the past three years.

She has worked fulltime maintaining and refurbishing the boat, which has also had major structural work by a professional to remove rot in the mahogany timber.

Her partner, Jason Kelman, originally from Blenheim, has also helped when he has been back from working offshore as a tug master.

They say the boat has strong links to Nelson's boating history - it was built by Nelson boat builder Keith Warner in 1979 in Canada before being sailed to Nelson where it has had successive local owners.

The couple bought it in 2009 then relocated from Wellington to Nelson, specifically to use the boat-building knowledge in the area.


"By not having much money we pretty much had to do the work ourselves or it wouldn't be done. We've had heaps of help from people in the area," said the Swedish expatriate.

She is unsure how much money they have spent on the boat, but said that even if they sold it, they would not recover the money they had sunk into Kairos II.

Tomorrow the couple will leave their home at Nelson Marina and sail along the west coast to Northland where they will holiday over summer until Miss Vilkki returns to university to finish her degree in neuro-muscular therapy in Auckland, but they will remain living on the boat.

"For us it's more of a lifestyle, we are still young and have our careers so it's more about enjoying the boat with our work and having the versatility.

"Most other boat owners we meet are retired, but we don't want to buy a house first and settle down, we want to enjoy this now," she said.