When blessing a new boat, it’s considered bad luck if the bottle of champagne doesn’t break. As luck would have it, when 16-year-old Mira Skoljarev swung the bottle hard at the Mira Š tuna longliner named after her, the bottle didn’t do what was expected of it.
‘It was fourth time lucky… after a bit of ‘engineering’ to weaken the bottle,’ said the new boat’s owner John Skoljarev. ‘Everyone was laughing.’
Thankfully, the bottle smash during the blessing ceremony on 27th March 2021 was just for show.
‘Mira had already successfully smashed a bottle on the first attempt in Newcastle when the boat was launched,’ John said.
‘Father Anthony also splashed holy water over Mira Š during the ceremony, granting the boat safe passage on all future voyages.’
Building the boat was a little over a two-year journey, stretching from April 2019 to May 2021.
‘It was blood, sweat, and tears – literally. Boats are a bit like cars, in that you have different systems like structural engineering, fuel, and engines that combine for performance. However, boats have some extra systems – including compressors, hydraulics, and electronics – that need to be considered and carefully integrated to create a high-performance boat,’ he said.
‘So much of the design and linking the systems together can take a lot longer than expected.’
For all of the hard work, John says that he has ended up with a ‘great boat.’
‘It has a good carrying capacity, an efficient hull and it’s super safe and extra stable. I’m really happy with the result.’
Mira Š was designed by Oceantech in Adelaide and built by CTB Industries in Kooragang, Newcastle. The internal fit-out was done over five months by an army of tradespeople, and John.
‘Carpenters did the ‘soft fit out’ – the timber walls, floor, and ceiling inside the boat – and the electricians did the 24V, 240V, and 415V wiring. I did most of the pipework, brine pipes, bilge pipework, and the fibreglass room,’ he said.
John’s dad Ivan, a former professional fisherman, was by his side at every stage of construction.
‘Dad was down at the wharf most days, doing whatever he could to help. He loves the boat and really enjoyed being part of its construction. Although Dad still thinks there’s ‘too much junk’ on the boat because he didn’t need all these ‘complicated electronics’ back in the day when he went fishing,’ John smiled.
At the boat’s helm is skipper Dieter Wagener, who moved with his wife to Australia from South Africa in January 2021.
‘Dieter is a successful longline skipper from Cape Town, and will bring his expertise to our company, allowing me to run the business from land.’
The boat will mainly work to the northeast of Port Stephens, NSW, catching mostly yellowfin tuna. According to John Skoljarev, catches will be landed with extreme care, and the sashimi-grade produce will be exported to Japan and the United States, as well as sold in domestic markets.
‘It makes me feel good that the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery has now been certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. Hopefully, landing sashimi-grade tuna and having the MSC certification will make marketing our fish a bit easier and more lucrative,’ he said.
Mira Š passed its final milestone, with the receipt of the certificate of survey from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority,which verifies that the boat can operate as a commercial vessel in Australia.
‘The boat is ready to go. There’s bait in the freezer and the fishing gear has been made,’ John said.
‘I’ll be so overwhelmed when the boat is finally out there and catching fish. I can’t wait to see the boat put through its paces.’