Stormy seas leads to yacht sale
By Fay Knight
WHEN Klaas Nierop decided to put his new yacht up for sale, he did it with a sense of humour. He ran an advertisement in The Northern Star’s Property Week magazine and, alongside all the houses, there is his 54’ motor sailer with the heading ‘absolute water frontage’.
But there is a sadder story behind the ad. The 75-year-old lost his partner three months ago, just after he finished fitting out the yacht, which has everything including a double kitchen sink.
“I just don’t feel like going cruising by myself,” Klaas, who lives on the yacht moored at the Ballina Marina, said.
Klaas was 16 when he started sailing after joining the Dutch Merchant Navy, sailing ‘before the mast’ before going on to naval college.
But when the time came to do national service, he borrowed the plane fare to Australia from his father and joined his brother in Sydney before going into a window cleaning business, then hitch-hiked to Mount Isa for work.
“I had eight jobs in the first six weeks,” Klaas said.
“When I got to Mt Isa they were on strike, so I went to Darwin.”
From there it was a matter of proving his versatility and determination with working stints at the Daly Water station, crocodile shooting, the Snowy Mountains scheme, managing a Smiggins Holes hotel, importing Dutch Delft pottery into Sydney, running a fountain and waterfall business and making jewellery.
He later took a detour to Mudgee, where he ran a deer farm and divorced. Then it was on to Brisbane, and a restaurant in Redcliffe plus a few inventions, of which the patents were sold.
It was the patent money which indirectly led to this last yacht.
“There’s no fool like an old fool,” Klaas laughed.
“I bought a Saab convertible and went on holidays. There was no one on the highway and I wanted to see what it could do.”
At 210kph a siren put an end to Klaas’ licence.
“As I could no longer drive, I decided to buy a boat. I bought the hull and the engine and sailed from Southport to fit it out in Ballina. It’s very nice.”
When the yacht sells, Klaas will join one of his sons in America.