Koala was built in the Cantiere Benello yard, in Livorno in Italy, in 1973. Apparently only 4 Freya Class Boats were built in Livorno, all initially called Koala 1, 2 3 and 4. According to the documentation that I have, Koala was Koala 4. She later became ‘Smiling Koala’, before reverting to Koala. She was initially designed by Olin Stephens and then drawn by Howard Pierce and Mario Taraboccia. The design was then developed at the same time as the Swan 43 (which is almost identical) and was the basis of development for the Swan 44, and the Swan 48.
The hull is of two laminates of fibergalss reinforced polyester with a foan sandwich core. This core is Airex closed cell foam and the inner GRP is finished with C Flex laminates. This makes for a relatively lightweight but immensely strong construction. Bulkheads are of both foam core construction and some standard fiberglass construction. A fiberglass grid system is built into the floor areas and carries the mast step as well as making for an immensely strong system for anchoring the keel bolts and floor areas.
Deck construction is of Airex foam /GRP sandwich. The hull has a solid fiberglass flange incorporated and this is bonded with the deck and also through bolted to incorporate the aluminum toe rails making for an inherently strong, leak free detail.
Keel, Rudder, Self Steering & Steering – the keel is of lead and bolted to the hull with multiple bolts which are encapsulated inside the boat. These are of a thread and nut style at each end and can be accessed from the outside of the boat. The keel is faired to the hull. The rudder is of foam filled fiberglass construction, built around high-tensile stainless steel tube and hung with multiple bearings from the skeg. Three emergency steering systems are incorporated. An emergency steering rope attachment hole is incorporated into the top aft portion of the rudder blade and is easily accessible. An emergency stainless steel steering tiller is also available which fits to the top of the rudder stock. The electric autopilot can also be used in an emergency as the electric autopilot is also attached directly to the quadrant. The rudder is steered by a large diameter wheel on binnacle by means of a chain and wire cable turning a quadrant. A Monitor wind vane is mounted on the transom.
The engine is a 50hp BMW D50, which was rebuilt in 2014 and the boat was rewired in 2014, with a new distribution panel fitted.
After being built in 1973, Koala (known then as Koala Quarto) was raced with some success in the Meditteranean, rating as a 2-tonner (in old IOR money!). Koala Quarto was sailed from the the pretty exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Sardinia which was founded by the Agha Khan in 1968. The boat was owned by Claudio Carbone, who was a well known racer in the late 60s / early 70s. Koala then changed hands and over the course of the next 80s and 90s, she was extensively cruised, completing 2 circumnavigations. Around the turn of the century, she changed hands again and the new owner planned to use her in the charter business in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, he passed away and Koala remained on the hard in Italy for 8 years. She was then purchased by her last owner, from Scotland, who sailed her out of the Mediterranean, down the west coast of Africa, back up to the Canaries and on to Greenland, mostly singlehanded. He lived on here for 4 years, before settling down on the Isle of Man, where I came across her, one day, while searching for a small fitting on the internet! The rest, they say, is history.