Built at 24 foot 6 inches, Aliscia was constructed by Queenscliff boatbuilder Peter Locke, circa 1936. In the era of the 1930s and 1940s, a number of Locke’s boats were built with the distinctive feature of lifting hooks installed and extra ribs for additional strength, so they could be lifted onto the Lorne Pier. Lorne was one of the fishing ports along the south-west coast of Victoria where, due to exposed seas, the smaller fishing vessels were hoisted out of the water to be stored on the pier overnight. Aliscia still has the lifting hooks in her stern.
Along with many other Couta Boats built in this period, Aliscia worked as a fishing vessel following the barracouta along the Victorian coast. At Lorne, hearsay says she was known by reputation as ‘fast and black’. By all accounts, the ‘black’ related to traditional paint used by Ports and Harbours.
In addition to fishing out of Lorne, she fished out of Apollo Bay when she was owned by a local fisherman, Harrison. However, other than these two accounts, no other details on her location are available, until the late 1970s.
In the late 1970s, Sorrento boatbuilder Tim Phillips found Aliscia on one of his numerous trips along Victoria’s south-west coast when he was looking for traditional Queenscliff fishing boats to revive. At the time, she was owned by Ken Whistler in Portland, an ex-Harbour master. Ken had traded a caravan for Aliscia, the intention being to restore her. She was badly damaged on one side, as battery acid had eaten a hole in her timber; she also had a plywood cabin. However, given the extent of the damage, Ken lost his enthusiasm for the project.
Custodian: John Harris; late 1970s – 1996
With the guidance of Tim Phillips, John Harris purchased Aliscia. He arranged for her to be transported to Tim’s shed in Delgany Avenue in Portsea for a complete restoration. The restoration included fitting a new deck and replacing many of her ribs, also installing a new but fire damaged Yanmar 2QM20 engine.
After Aliscia was launched, she became part of the emerging Couta Boat fleet that regularly sailed out of Portsea and Sorrento during the 1980s. John successfully raced Aliscia in the fleet for six years until a back condition prevented him from helming. So he assigned well-known Melbourne sailmaker Col Anderson to campaign her for a few seasons, with considerable success, winning the Lacco Shield (season aggregate) in 1993.
In this period, Aliscia was moored off Lentell Avenue, Sorrento.
Custodian: Shane Priest; 1996 – 2014
Aliscia was next purchased by Shane Priest in 1996. After acquiring her, she was moored off Lentell Ave., Sorrento then had several spells at the Blairgowrie Marina and finally at her own mooring at Camerons Bight.
As sister ship to Regina C34, Aliscia spent many a winter, side-by-side with Regina in the Wooden Boat Shop yard, soaking up hours of labour and gallons of paint. Orbital sanders became throw away items; paints and materials were in endless demand, but all the effort was repaid when she slipped back into the water looking fabulous!
During this period, she was sailed for pleasure only, more often used as a motor boat for fishing; but always turned heads with her timeless lines.
Custodian: Nathan Waterson; 2014 – 2018
In 2014, Nathan Waterson purchased Aliscia. His intention was to transport her to the family’s holiday house on the South coast of NSW but with a young family at the time, he found it difficult to juggle his commitments. So Aliscia remained on her mooring at Camerons Bight, Sorrento for three years until she was sold.
Custodian: Michael Cantwell; 2018 – Present
In November 2018, Aliscia was purchased by Couta Boat enthusiast Michael Cantwell. At the time of her purchase, Michael noted that Aliscia had a complete suite of Hood sails; main, No. 1, No. 2 and storm jibs. Surprisingly, all were in serviceable or good condition.
Michael tells that his young children had already named Aliscia the ‘ghost’ boat’ as they had seen her deteriorating on a mooring off Camerons Bight, east of Sorrento. She was in need of repair, but with a few weeks of work she was back in the water and ready for a season of racing.
A keen sailor, Michael competitively sails Aliscia in the Division 2 fleet at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club, on Port Phillip. Aliscia quickly established her status as one of the lead boats in the Division, claiming Line Honours in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 CBA National Titles, the 2019 and 2021 Portsea Cup, the 2020 CBA Victorian State Titles, and the 2021 Club Aggregate Race Series. She also won 1st Handicap in the 2021 CBA National Titles.
In addition to racing, Aliscia is used by the Cantwell family for recreational sailing. The children are budding dinghy sailors and so derive as much pleasure from sailing her, as does their father. Occasionally they are on-board for some of the scheduled races.