There is some conjecture around the date of the build of Honey Dew, as the name and location of the original builder is not known. It is likely she was built in the mid 1940s, but Port Fairy boat builder Garry Stewart suggests that she was built circa 1960s from a 1940s Couta Boat design. She is 26 foot in length.
Custodian: Pat Matthey; 1960s (perhaps)
Custodian: Des Phillips; Unknown dates
There are also varying views as to where Honey Dew was located in her early years. It is believed that she fished for many years in Bass Strait and possibly out of Flinders Island, Bass Strait, Victoria until the 1960s, when Port Fairy fisherman Pat Matthey took custodianship and utilized her for fishing in that area.
After the period of Matthey’s custodianship, Honey Dew was owned by Des Phillips who was a farmer in the region. Des fished out of her for a few years, mainly sweep fishing for flathead and also catching pike along the shore.
Custodian: Brian Atkins; Early 1990s – 2008
Des sold Honey Dew to another keen Port Fairy fisherman Brian Atkins. Brian had a love of wooden boats and used Honey Dew primarily for fishing: catching ‘couta, kingfish, yellowtail, snapper and flathead in the waters around Port Fairy, Victoria.
In the early 2000s, local boatbuilder Garry Stewart refurbished Honey Dew. At the time Brian was working in Garry’s boatyard. They re-fitted the top deck with Merbau, added a top plank to allow for more freeboard; replaced the side-coaming with Celery Top timbers, fitted a centre-case and a new Yanmar 30 hp diesel to replace the old Lister engine. They also fitted her with a smaller rig for sailing and changed the colour of the hull from white to bright red, with a black trim and a black coaming rail.
Ultimately, Honey Dew became a very seaworthy vessel and was used by Brian for sailing as well as fishing. On occasions he would sail Honey Dew some 30 nautical miles to Portland to compete in a regatta against the three or four other Couta Boats in the region. Always, on the return journey he would make time for some fishing.
For Brian, fishing out of Honey Dew was his passion, but in time when the maintenance became all-consuming, so he decided to sell her.
Custodian: Nick Roach; 2008 – 2009
In 2008, Honey Dew was purchased by Nick Roach of Sorrento, Victoria. Nick owned her for only a short period when he sold her to John Pincott from Gippsland, Victoria.
Custodian: John Pincott; 2009 – 2014
In the next six years, Honey Dew was used by John and his wife for recreational sailing and motoring around the Gippsland Lakes. However, John was to discover that Couta Boats are a heavy-timbered craft and not as aerodynamic as modern yachts, so sailing two-up requires some brute strength, particularly in strong winds. Reluctantly, John and his wife came to the conclusion that sailing Honey Dew, at times, presented more challenge than pleasure. In dry dock, Honey Dew was regularly maintained by Frecheville Heaney Boatbuilders in Paynesville, Victoria so finding a buyer was not a difficult process.
Custodian: John Foley; 2014 – Present
The new custodian John Foley purchased Honey Dew in 2014 after he had spent some time admiring her lines as he worked around the boatyard where she was in dry dock. John declared that from the moment he set eyes on the fine lines of Honey Dew, he wanted to purchase her.
She was just one of those Couta Boats that I admired and thought that one day, maybe…?
After the purchase, John fitted Honey Dew with a new set of sails. He continues to use her for recreational sailing on the Gippsland Lakes and competes in the twilight sailing fleet on a regular basis. She is moored at Raymond Island, Victoria.
In 2020, Honey Dew underwent another refurbishment, including a new sole. John maintains that she was in very good condition when he purchased her, but as is the case for all wooden boats, she requires constant maintenance.