Little is known of this boat’s early history, or even if she had a name. But when she was found in Queenscliff in the 1990s, it was clear she was very old and in poor shape. It is likely she was built between 1905 and 1910 and may have been used as a pattern boat to assist in the construction of other wooden boats of the era.
Custodian: Philip Myer; 1997 – 2007
In 1997, Philip Myer, then a partner in West Coast Marine Chandlery, recalled a boat sinking in its pen at Queenscliff, well before the harbour redevelopment, and that the owner could not be identified. Subsequently, the council proceeded to pull her out of the water and Philip decided to offer to purchase her for $40. She was pretty much a wreck, and in hindsight Philip stated that it would have been cheaper to build a brand new boat.
The boat was badly planked on one side, but the other side was normally laid out, and that perhaps someone had tried to rebuild her at some stage.
After starting the restoration, Philip engaged the Wooden Boat Shop (WBS) at Sorrento to assist. The boat was loaded on the car ferry to make the journey to Sorrento. There she was re-fastened and re-ribbed, and a new stern and centre-case were added. But, there was nothing much that was original when she came out of the water.
Philip completed the rebuild at Murradoc near Queenscliff, adding an epoxy glass hull below the waterline to ensure her seaworthiness and to preserve the aged and original timbers in her hull. The Couta Boat Association (CBA) gave a dispensation for this to occur. Philip named her Avalon after his association with the Geelong Grammar School (GGS) and painted her in the school colours of light blue.
Avalon was relaunched at Queenscliff in 1999 and for the next few years was sailed by Phillip’s son Patrick and students of GGS around the waters of Limeburners Bay located in front of the school, during school term and then sailed around to Queenscliff, Port Phillip for the summer.
During the early 2000s, Patrick participated in Division 2 Couta Boat races off Queenscliff and Sorrento. She was a fast boat for her size, with a straight stern and a vertical bow, signs of her age. However, after a time, she was not being used and tended to sit on a mooring at Sorrento. It was time for Philip to sell her.
Custodian: Andrew Callander; 2007 – Present
In 2007, Andrew Callander heard Philip was moving house and was considering gifting Avalon to GGS if no one bought her within the week. Andrew was after a ‘knock- around’ boat and Tim Phillips of the WBS agreed she was worth purchasing, so Andrew took up the offer. Sometime later he repainted her in more traditional couta colours of cream and Brunswick green.
Andrew says he had spent many happy years sailing around Sorrento when Sorrento Sailing Club (SSC) Commodore Morrison was in charge in the 1960s. Since then he has sailed sporadically, with golf and other activities getting in the way, and with Avalon he has enjoyed some successes including a Yabby Lake win and competing in the annual Division 2 Lacco Cup.
Andrew says Avalon is a wonderful straight stemmed example of her time:
When visiting the War Memorial, I noticed the design similarity to the Gallipoli landing craft. Although not raced a lot, she is much loved and also a reminder of the fun we all had at the Club dances when we were too young for Tom Katz but old enough to Wah Watusi!
In 2021, Avalon is moored off the Sorrento boat ramp adjacent to Andrew’s home.