Boat built for the love of Olga

Marcel Kievit needed something to keep himself occupied after his wife died of breast cancer. So he built a boat. And another. And another. He’s donated one of them to Bosom Buddies. KATHRYN VUKOVLJAK reports…

Marcel Kievit... “I think Olga would like the boats.” Photo by Gary Schafer

Marcel Kievit… “I think Olga would like the boats.” Photo by Gary Schafer

MARCEL Kievit started making wooden kayaks as a way of healing after his wife of 43 years passed away from breast cancer.

He says he doesn’t have a particular love of boats, but he wanted a project that would take a lot of time.

“I had to focus on something when Olga passed away,” he says. “And I wanted to make something beautiful in her memory.”

Woodwork has long been a hobby for Marcel, particularly making small, comedic wooden birds.

“I like making the birds, but they are over too quickly,” he says. “The idea to make a boat was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I needed something to keep me occupied, to keep my mind off things. A much longer project.

“And once I started making boats, I started to get into them.”

Marcel has now made three boats in 18 months, and has donated one to Bosom Buddies, which will be the first prize in a public raffle in October. Second prize is a full mixed case of wine donated by Gallagher Wines of Murrumbateman.

Marcel Kievit. Photo by Gary Schafer

Marcel Kievit. Photo by Gary Schafer

The raffle will be drawn on October 27 at the Bosom Buddies’ annual dinner at the Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden.

Olga was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years before she died.

“Her diagnosis was almost by accident, during a yearly check up with her doctor, who found a small lump on her breast,” Marcel says.

“It turned out to be nothing, but another lump was found on the other breast, that wasn’t even noticeable, and that had already spread. It was detected early enough that she had several years in remission, but it came back.

“It just goes to show how incredibly careful you have to be.”

It’s estimated the kayak is worth around $5000, but Marcel says he never made his boats for a profit.

“When you look at the cost of materials and labour, you’re out of pocket before you start,” he says. “But it was never about money.”

The boat in the raffle is a Macgregor style two-person kayak, designed by renowned small-boat designer Iain Oughtred. It was built with four-mil marine ply donated by Robert Ayliffe, of Straydog Boat Works, from Mount Barker, in SA. It can be converted for a sail, Marcel says.

Although he is very happy for the boat to be donated to such a good cause, he has another that he says he will always keep, that bears his wife’s name and has a pendant of hers inlaid in the bow.

“I think Olga would like the boats, particularly the fact that this one is going to Bosom Buddies,” says Marcel.

“She would want to thank the volunteers who supported us.”
To buy raffle tickets, call Bosom Buddies on 0406 376 500 or 6290 1984, or email bosombuddies@shout.org.au

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