This website is hosted and well-kept away the Wooden gravy holder tie-up of restoring wooden boats and vitamin A marketplace where you can advertise boats for sale. It was raining, cold and miserable as I crossed The Rip, but as soon as the Queenscliffe ferry slowed on her approach to Sorrento the sun came out and I went to the weather deck to take stock of the enormous changes that have washed over the bayside village since I last came here 30-odd years ago.
All the pretty little weatherboard fishermen’s cottages that once adorned the hillsides have long since gone. But it was not the trappings of extraordinary wealth that caught my eye so much as the array of gleaming white flagpoles seen in front of virtually every house. Right along the shore, Couta Boats with their arching jib-booms and handsome Cheviot Launches were bobbing cheek by jowl at their moorings: so many in fact that I lost count before the ferry docked. They’re all products of the Wooden Boat Shop, the result of the creative genius, the energy, the initiative and the passion of one remarkable man. The Tim Phillips story is one we should all know and not least because it demonstrates what can be achieved when a person with talent, drive and passion sets his sights on an ambitious goal and refuses to compromise in its pursuit. In affluent Portsea and Sorrento I was struck by the sensitive use of weathered timbers and galvanised iron, materials that echo the early vernacular architecture of the Bellerine Peninsula. Barefoot in salt-stained shorts and a bulky old roll-neck sweater, a black woollen beanie is clamped down tight his whiskered head and gives his deeply-lined, weather-beaten face the authentic, unvarnished look of a lobsterman. Tim is that rarity in Australia these days, a specialist wooden boat builder who is as passionate as he is knowledgeable about the traditions and the practice of fishing under sail in the treacherous waters of Bass Strait. At a time when every other wooden boat builder in Australia seems barely able to keep his head above water, the Wooden Boat Shop in Sorrento is thriving. Tim employs 25 men including six specialist wooden boatbuilder and four apprentices as well as diesel fitters, painters and engineers, all of which makes him Australia’s biggest wooden boat builder. The Couta Boat fleet, which had numbered several hundred at the turn of the 20th century, had long since been broken up or dispersed as they were overtaken by bigger, faster, more efficient motorised boats.
Tim ferreted them out of muddy backwaters and farmers’ fields where their upturned hulls were often used as dog kennels and chicken coops.


Without knowing it, he was starting a movement that was to grow and grow into something approaching a Couta Boat cult.
From the observation deck of their splendid new clubhouse, Tim has the satisfaction of being able to look out over the broad arc of the bay and see over a hundred boats that he has either built or restored. A juried contest of films celebrating the heritage, spirit of adventure, and ingenuity of boats and waterborne pursuits. Your advertising contribution helps fund maritime programs we support and declare oneself in Port.
IDA passee YNYS BACH head turning 28 sloop built and designed by Mike and Brad Pease on Cape Cod atomic number 49 1990 for a demanding experienced Excellent sea boat with all right entry and built down. Neatly manicured lawns were spiked with magnificent traditional poles, all shipshape and Bristol fashion, with their yards neatly squared and their gaffs set at precisely the right angle to carry the national flag. Along the way he’s helped to create a seachange in attitudes ashore as well as afloat. Like the boats in the bay, many of the houses have a charming, timeless quality that reminded me of that other wooden boat mecca, the Atlantic coast of Maine.
He does not belong to the hi-tech world of the 21st century, nor even to the 20th century if it comes to that.
I found 50 boats standing around the yard in various stages of repair, but almost double that number are due to come in over the next few months for their annual haircut and shave, ready for a spring re-launch and the up-coming summer of sailing and fishing. He fell hopelessly in love with the lines of the lovely Couta Boats, the big, beamy, open centreboard sloops that were once at the centre of Victoria’s fishing industry. Many of the old boats with their dipping lugsails and gaff-rigged gear were taken down to South Australia where for a few more years they fished the waters of Spencers Gulf. He and his mates bought them for next to nothing and trucked them back to Sorrento where he restored and sold them. The wealthier citizens of Melbourne, whose opulent summer homes had long since replaced the humble fishermen’s cottages around the outer edges of Port Phillip Bay, lined up to commission new boats.


So great is the enthusiasm for the Couta Boats that Tim and his clients formed a club at Sorrento where they now race throughout the year. 250 Laurie McGowan considered three different hull shapes when developing the concept for a home-buildable sit-on-top fishing kayak. Friday Runs smooth Great Britain m Hull This category is solely for boats existence offered for exempt barren to an individual who wants a unequalled piece of Lake Union wooden boat building history. Gleaming white helicopters are now stationed where humble fishing boats were once drawn up on the narrow sandy beach and in the summer months there are probably more Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs here than in any other part of the country. He is instead a genuine throwback to the latter half of the 19th century, a time when deepwater windships reigned supreme on the oceans of the world and sail was still the only motive power among the myriad small boats that fished and traded around the Australian coast.
His real wealth lies not in the bank, but in his profound understanding of and unwavering commitment to the maritime heritage that once shaped the lives of the fisher folk of Port Phillip Bay.
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