River living good for the soul
FROM sailing the pristine waters of the Tamar and Gordon rivers to ferrying commuters across the Derwent and eventually becoming a permanent living space, this is far from your average home.
The Wanderer, a 60- foot former ferry, was constructed in 1974 by Beauty Point boat builder Peter Shaw and was originally named the John Wyatt.
Since then, she has served many purposes, under various owners, until a few years ago when Stephanie and Ric Kalesh bought her and converted the celery top pine beauty into a floating apartment.
New York City- born Ric and Melburnian Stephanie were no strangers to life aboard a boat.
“One boring Saturday morning we were reading the travel section of the paper and there was a little snippet on a story about somebody who had lived on a barge in Europe,” Stephanie said. “I was suddenly overwhelmed with a compelling need to go and do exactly that. “We’d never been on a row boat at the time – we weren’t boaties at all.
“I think we were having a bit of a mid- life crisis.
“A few months later we had sold up, packed two suitcases and were over in Holland looking for a barge with absolutely no idea what we should be looking for or what was required.” With a bit of local help and knowledge, the pair were soon living aboard their new home, Galileo, and spent the next three- and- a- half years travelling the canals of Holland, Belgium and France.
Returning to Australia, they moved to Tasmania but struggled to re- engage with mainstream living.
Missing the water, Stephanie and Ric set about looking for a dinghy to take them around the harbour and down the Derwent, but what
they ended up with was a massive commercial ferry instead.
“We saw the photograph in the boat brokers and Ric said to me, ‘ Oh no, we’re not doing this’,” Stephanie laughed.
“I said to him, ‘ Come on, let’s just go have a look at it’ and went for a ride on her and that was it – we fell in love.”
For the next year, the Wanderer previously also known as the Heritage Wanderer and the Wrest Point Wanderer was completely gutted and refurbished.
Still an operation vessel, she now also features a full domestic kitchen with pantry, bespoke joinery and benchtops, a full bathroom with shower, two separate bedrooms plus a double day bed in the living area, a laundry and a huge outdoor area upstairs.
“We wanted to live aboard in that European style,” Stephanie said.
“You are absolute waterfront and you form part of the view that people are paying heaps of money to see from their fancy houses onshore.
“I didn’t necessarily want it to have a nautical feel with blue and white everywhere because it was going to be our home. Instead I went for rich fabrics and materials which I think work beautifully.”
Based at Port Huon, the couple even wrote a book, Babes In The Water, while living on the
Wanderer based on their experiences of living on the water in Europe.
In fact, she seems to be a inspiring place for those with literary aspirations.
Melbourne- based comedian, writer and friend of the Kaleshes Rachel Berger periodically lives onboard, as she writes her next book.
Life on the water for the most part isn’t all that different from living in a normal house, Stephanie said.
“You do have to be mindful of the fact that it isn’t a house where you can throw a switch and the city provides everything,” she said.
“You have to change gas bottles, you do have to hook in your electricity and if you’re not cruising regularly you have to occasionally turn over the engine.
“But it isn’t really that different except you have the absolute delight of being literally on the water, which is really good for you, good for the soul, good for your wellbeing, good for your health.”
The Wanderer is currently docked at Prince of Wales Bay and is for sale through Boat Sales Tasmania.