Tasmania's historic ketch Defender will sail its way back to Launceston, ship owner Les Dick said yesterday.
The 35-metre vessel has spent more than three years out of action in Townsville, but after recaulking and replanking was put back in the water about noon yesterday.
However, its return to Bass Strait was not always a certainty.
Several months ago, the future of the North Esk River's old maritime heritage precinct centrepiece was unclear.
Rosshaven Marine's land, on which the Defender is being stored, will become the property of Townsville City Council on July 15, when the company's lease runs out and it moves to a new location.
It was believed anything left on the property when the council took over would be destroyed, including the ship.
Rosshaven Marine had trouble getting Mr Dick up to Townsville to help with the restoration of the run-down, burnt-out ship, which made it difficult because the company didn't know what to do with the vessel.
Mr Dick stayed positive throughout the six-month process and was certain his old ship wouldn't be destroyed.
"It was just a matter of getting all the work done," he said.
It has been nine years since the Defender left Bass Strait to operate as a charter vessel in Queensland's Whitsundays, but its name has not been forgotten.
Few projects have captured the interest of Northern Tasmanians as much as the restoration of the Defender for Australia's Bicentenary Tall Ships Race from Hobart to Sydney between 1982 and 1988.
An estimated $250,000 was spent on the Defender's restoration, which saw it become the official Tasmanian race entry.
Mr Dick said he wasn't sure what he would do with the Defender once he'd sailed it back to Launceston.
"I'll have to make that decision when I get there ... we'll see what happens," Mr Dick said.