PORT Fairy residents could have thought "we're going to need a bigger port" as they watched the Tacoma take shape.
The 84-foot vessel, the biggest ever built in Port Fairy, was an ambitious dream that became a town legend after it sailed into the horizon destined for Adelaide and then Port Lincoln in the 1950s.
It went on to play a major role developing the Australian fishing industry and has never returned to Port Fairy.
But to mark the boat's 70th year, there are now plans for the vessel to visit its birthplace in early 2022.
The boat's construction and eventual success is also this month the subject of a new exhibition at the Port Fairy Historical Museum.
At four years of age Ross Haldane was among 16 crew, mostly Haldane family members, onboard the vessel when it departed the town in 1952. His father Bill Haldane and uncles Allan and Hughie had spent seven years building the boat.
"I can remember leaving and going out into the big waves, into the first big swells," Ross Haldane told The Standard this week.
"We all scrambled down to the protection of the cabin."
The Haldane brothers used six enormous logs from the Otways, hauled on rail to Port Fairy in 1944, to craft the boat on the Moyne River bank where it first launched in November 1951 on a "very high tide".
"I also remember as a young kid going down and dad sawing up the boat on the bandsaw, sticking nails for a mast in it," Ross Haldane said.
The family had already earned a name for fishing and boat building, constructing two smaller vessels in Port Fairy, the Amaryllis in 1935 and the Dolphin in 1939.
Ross' grandfather Hugh Haldane, a Scottish shipbuilder, moved to Port Fairy to become the harbour master and was the last lighthouse keeper on Griffith Island from 1929 to 1952.
A plan to pay for the Tacoma's construction from the family's fishing operations failed and they were unable to secure a loan from banks, or the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.
But the South Australian government offered loans worth £20,000 on the condition the vessel would operate from a SA port to help develop a purse seine fishing industry.
The boat's crew faced a learning curve for some years while they gained the experience necessary to successfully fish for tuna.
The vessel went on to finally succeed using the bait and pole method. When the tuna industry went into a decline in the late 1960s, the Haldanes transitioned the boat into a prawning vessel.
Port Fairy Historical Museum archives collection manager Lynda Tieman said the exhibition remembered a "local legend" 70 years on.
"It's the romance of people being able to build something like that here. Especially in post-war, they just stuck at it. That's called determination. They never gave up," Ms Tieman said.
"They made history over in South Australia, she really is regarded as an iconic boat, because they took so much care of her."
The exhibition features boat building tools, photographs, and an audio commentary of the vessel's story. A plaque also now marks a Gipps Street site where the Tacoma's construction took place.
Bad weather thwarted a plan for the boat to visit in 2011, but Mr Haldane said there were now plans for the vessel to visit in January 2022.
"Port Fairy has quite limited depth capacity," Mr Haldane said.
"So we will have to target ourselves pretty accurately and it looks like we will have to come at night during the high tide.
"We will stay for a week or two weeks. And we will head off to Port Lincoln to re-enact our leaving."
Mr Haldane, whose Port Fairy home was the Merrijig Inn, believes the boat is still in such good condition because it stayed in the same family for so long.
"This is probably one of the better built fishing boats in Australia, the reason it is still alive was built so well," he said.
The Haldane family gifted the boat to the Tacoma Preservation Society, and it still undertakes fishing expeditions out of Port Lincoln.
Mr Haldane said besides "the artistry of it" the boat was of public value because of "the ideas that went with it".
"If you studied that boat and the bones of it you will learn so much more about fisheries and fisheries management," he said.
The Port Fairy museum plans to host a "part two" of its current exhibition when the boat arrives at the town next year.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.