Dale Appleton photos from the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival 2012


Dale Appleton dropped into the Wooden Boat Festival at Geelong, Australia the other day, and tells me he’ll send over a brief report soon. In the meantime he has put some photos on his Flickr account, including these of the newly restored Ruby Merle, a Port Philip Couta boat.

Dale reports that the restoration work is a fantastic job.

Noticing the leather on the gaff jaws, he had this to say: ‘A detail that struck me: kangaroo leather is the choice material for gaff jaws and other high wearing points. If you have ever seen two kangaroos fight, you will understand just why the leather is so tough.’

Nice shots Dale – many thanks for them! More photos of Couta boats taken by Dale can be found in an earlier post.

Couta sailing boats in the Australian sun

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Couta boats racing in the Australian sun

Dale Appleton sent us these photos of some almost absurdly good looking Couta boats racing in the warmth of the Australian summer off Queenscliff, Victoria.

(By the way, let me assure anyone who may be wondering – up here in deepest, darkest rural Kent we’ve been snowed in good and proper for the first time in years.)

He says that the Coutas are now highly sought after as a pleasure and racing boat, and even as a status symbol to some, and adds that there is a traditional builder making them to order. I think that’s seriously good news. See the class website.

Dale also pointed out that there’s a hidden treasure on the Couta Boat Club’s website, by the way. Readers may remember that Pete Goss’s Spirit of Mystery expedition recently had a nasty experience when their recreated Cornish fishing lugger suffered a knockdown as they approached Australia. One crew member on deck at the time broke his leg and their boat lost its clinker-built dinghy made from off-cuts from the Mystery herself.

Well, in an amazing coincidence it seems that dinghy has turned up on a beach at King Island, part way between mainland Australia and Tasmania, and I gather it is being fixed up by local boatbuilder Jeremy Clowes, who sailed with the Mystery crew after she reached King Island – I gather he has replaced the upper planks and various other bits and pieces using parts donated by local wooden boat enthusiasts. As Dale says, it’s a story to warm any boat builder’s heart. See the story here.

Surrounded by unaccustomed ice, I’ve been reflecting on how grateful I am that people like Dale and many others are so willing to send in their photos and stories. Thanks Dale and the rest – your efforts are greatly appreciated, and I hope you know how much you add to the sum of human happiness in the boating world.