The profiles listed in this Register have been documented from the stories and photos contributed by custodians and others who willingly shared information. Readers who have additional information about the history of any Couta Boat are invited to forward it to so that it can be added to the Register.

Boonewa CP573N – A Traditional Wooden Boat

Boat Details

Sail Number:
Boat Location:
Five Dock Bay, Sydney, NSW
Current Custodian:
Kosta Charalambakis
Designer & Builder:

W T Harris, Port Adelaide, SA.

Harry Coldwell in Port Adelaide, SA.

Timbers Used:

Hull: Spotted Eucalyptus Gum

Deck: Western Australian Jarrah

Length: 27 ft


Early Years

Boonewa is slightly different to the standard Couta Boat. She was built in 1937 by boatbuilder Harry Coldwell in Port Adelaide, South Australia. Harry had always admired the design of the local Couta Boats but he didn’t want the hassle of a large centreboard, so Boonewa was built with a long, shallow keel. He also fitted her with a cabin and a couple of bunks.

The plans and moulds were lent to Harry by W T Harris of Port Adelaide, SA, from his ‘Boogala 2’ design. His boats sported Aboriginal names; the name ‘Boonewa’ means follow me.

Boonewa was launched in 1937 and the boat was used for racing and cruising in local waters. She was moored in the Port River at Snowdens Beach, SA.

Harry sold the boat to a Mr Health and she was moored at the Port Adelaide Sailing Club. Later, Harold and Bill Trueman bought her from the Health family. Naval architect Neil Cormack who was Harry’s son-in-law, helped race her between 1943 and 1948.

For the next 50 years, there is no trace of Boonewa’s history. It is presumed, however, in that time she remained in the vicinity of Adelaide, SA until she was sold and moved to Sydney, NSW.


Custodians: Tony Eastley, Peter George; 2000 – 2012

ABC journalists Tony Eastley and Peter George purchased Boonewa in 2000 from her owner at the time, Geoff Atkins, and had her transported from Adelaide to Sydney by low-loader.

The new custodians sailed Boonewa around Sydney Harbour and also competed in several Twilight races in Middle Harbour.

Boonewa’s longest trip was overnight from Sydney Harbour to Lake Macquarie. Leaving at 1700 hours, she arrived outside Lake Macquarie at dawn and waited for the tide and Bridge. At Lake Macquarie her hull was stripped back to bare timber at Phil Heaney’s boatyard.

A few weeks later Peter George sailed her solo back to Sydney Harbour. She was then sailed numerous ties to Pittwater for weekends away.

Custodian: Tony Eastley; 2000 – 2017

In 2012, Tony Eastley became the sole custodian of Boonewa. He continued to use her for recreational sailing on Sydney Harbour. In this time, maintenance was carried out by Northside Shipwrights of Northbridge.

Custodian: Kosta Charalambakis (Bakis); 2017 – Present

The current owner of Boonewa is Kosta Bakis of Sydney who purchased her from Tony Eastley in 2017. Kosta has done extensive work restoring Boonewa, and she turns heads when out on Sydney Harbour sporting striking livery of red and white, and sailing with her original sails – a spectacular sight!

Hardback Coffee Table Couta Boat Book

The Hardback Coffee Table Couta Boat Book is now available for order.
The book is a fascinating mix of wonderful photos and interesting stories.
CLICK HERE to Buy The Tradition Lives On – a Register of the Historic Couta Boats