Marko Sambrailo


Born in 1925 Marko Sambrailo arrived with nothing but two pounds in his pocket from Korčula, Croatia. His father Drago had been a shipyard master workman in Korcula where the shipbuilding industry made a significant contribution during World War ll, repairing the boats of the partisan and allied navy. After the liberation of the area in 1944 the Korcula shipyard was reconstructed, but the country was threatened with Soviet aggression. Marko left, headed for Italy…but ended up on a ship headed for Fremantle by accident.

Arriving in Fremantle in 1950 he was interned at Northam for short time before finding work at the Crabbe shipyards next to where the Left Bank is today, in East Fremantle.

In 1952 he married Carolina (Lena) Rainoldi ( d. 2017) and soon after moved to a house in King Street. They were married for almost 60 years and son Mark was born in 1967. In 1972 they moved to Chauncey St.

Marko worked salvaging and repairing boats from all over Western Australia and built boats for fishermen in his backyard, with the help of Lena. Marko, always seen in his distinctive navy blue clothes, had a passion for timber and loved building Jarrah boats. He became a boat building legend, known for the hundreds of boats he built (*1).

By the 1980s Marko and his brothers, Mladin and Drago, were building boats in Fremantle together. The Mara was built in 1980 (Length 25’ - 7.63 m Marine ply hull and decks) by Marko’s younger brother- Drago Sambrailo (1920-2011) to a Marko Sambrailo design(*2)

Drago and Marko Sambralio were the last wooden boat builders in Fremantle and their slipways used to be where the Kailis and Cicerello’s fish and chips shops are now.

*1. from Melville City Herald, vol 22, no 35, August 27, 2011, pp 1 and 5.

*2. from the Newsletter of the OGA Western Australia The Association for Gaff-Rig and Traditional Sailing September 2016