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Lyndal Lea C911

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Boat Details

Current Custodian:
Carmen Bell

History

Early Years
The materials used and the building style of Lyndal Lea suggest a manufacture date before 1900. She is Huon Pine planked, has naturally grown knees, and has a Jarrah stem and keel. The ribs and transom are of New Zealand Kauri. She has a Huon Pine rudder and also had a stainless steel one at some stage. Her deck is Celery Top Pine. She is clearly well-built, probably in a shipyard, and a likely candidate could be Blunts at Geelong. There are no records to confirm this.

Custodian: John Harris
She was once owned by John Harris, who taught bricklaying at Gordon Technical College, and fisherman Jack Manson who used to sail her with a dipping lug-rigged cotton sail.

Custodian: Brett Almond; 1980s – 1994
Her next known owner, boat builder Brett Almond, found Lyndal Lea looking derelict in a paddock in Portarlington, Victoria in the 1980s and had rescued her, fixed her up and named her after his wife Lyndal Lea, although earlier she was called Black Swan.

In the year of his purchase, Brett had given an undertaking that she would become an exhibit in the Queenscliff Maritime Museum that summer, an undertaking that he honoured. Believed to have been built c1890s – 1900s, the boat represented an earlier era when the Queenscliff Couta Boats were purpose-built for fishing. However, the specific date of her build and the name of her original owner are not known.

Custodian: Carmen Bell; 1994 – Present
Carmen Bell says;

It certainly was love at first sight…

In 1994 the current custodian of Lyndal Lea, Carmen Bell, first spotted this lovely little clinker Couta Boat with a piece of plywood with ‘For Sale’ and a phone number on it, lying on her thwart.

At some stage during her working life Lyndal Lea was encased in fibreglass, an emotional wood boat crime, and the Bell family, with Brett Almond’s help, spent a lot of time and effort in 1988 stripping the fibreglass off the hull in their boatshed on Beach Street in Fisherman’s Flat, Queenscliff. Her single-cylinder Renault motor was replaced with a 2-cylinder Nanni diesel engine and her 3-bladed prop with a 2-bladed one to reduce drag when racing.

Her black clinker hull, oiled Celery Top deck and cream-coloured sails make her a very photogenic boat. She was spotted by professional photographer Simon Griffiths during the 2015 Queenscliff Regatta and features in his book ‘BOAT’, a book which salutes the character and craftsmanship of all sorts of boats and boatbuilders and which he assembled in memory of his ancestor Jonathan Griffiths (1773 – 1839), shipowner, boatbuilder, convict, adventurer and businessman.

Lyndal Lea’s race record is impressive in the Division 2 Couta Boat fleet at the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club (SSCBC), despite her age and traditional vertical cut mainsail. See Race Records. Carmen retains wonderful memories of sailing Lyndal Lea:

I have had fun racing her in a black ballgown and matching feather boa in several Ladies Skipper Races at SSCBC. My most exciting ride in my boat was on our return from the 2006 Volvo Ocean Race event at Victoria Harbour in Melbourne.

The forecast was for a bit of a blow later in the day. We set off early in the company of another small Couta Boat, Nellie C148 (now Waltzing Matilda), while watching the hot air balloons rising from St Kilda. About an hour into the trip, at the spoil grounds in the middle of Port Phillip, a violent squall coming out of the west hit us and for nearly 3 hours we ended up battling waves which at times reached 3 metres and were quite steep. It is a credit to the design of the Couta Boat and to their solid construction techniques that we made it to Queenscliff, and the other boat to Werribee.

Lyndal Lea is moored in Queenscliff Harbour and today, possibly being 110 years old, or more, is one of the oldest Couta Boats still sailing.

Appendix: The Lyndal Lea Story by Carmen Bell

It certainly was love at first sight.

Walking along the old Queenscliff Harbour, I spotted this lovely little clinker Couta Boat with a piece of plywood with ‘For Sale’ and a phone number on it lying on her thwart. The year was 1994. Her owner, boat builder Brett Almond, had found the boat languishing in a paddock in Portarlington in the 1980’s and had rescued her, fixed her up and named her after his wife Lyndal Lea, though earlier she was called Black Swan. She was owned before Brett by John Harris, who taught bricklaying at Gordon Tech College, and fisherman Jack Manson who used to sail her with a dipping lug-rigged cotton sail.

The year I purchased her, Brett had given an undertaking that she would become an exhibit in the Queenscliff Maritime Museum that summer, an undertaking that I honoured.

The materials used and her building style suggest a manufacture date before 1900. She is Huon Pine-planked, has naturally grown knees and has a Jarra stem and keel. The ribs and transom is New Zealand Kauri. She has a Huon Pine rudder and also had a stainless steel one at some stage. Her deck is Celery Top Pine and is from the 1980’s. She is clearly well-built, probably in a shipyard, and a likely candidate could be Blunt’s at Geelong. There are no records to confirm this.

At some stage during her working life she was encased in fibreglass – a crime, and the Bell family with Brett Almond’s help spent a lot of time and effort stripping the fibreglass off the hull in our boatshed on Beach Street in Fisherman’s Flat in 1998. Her single-cylinder Renault motor was replaced with a 2-cylinder Nanni diesel engine and her 3-bladed prop with a 2-bladed one to reduce drag when racing.

Her black clinker hull, oiled celery top deck and cream-coloured sails make her a very photogenic boat. She was spotted by professional photographer Simon Griffiths during the 2015 Queenscliff Regatta and features in his book ‘BOAT’, a book which salutes the character and craftsmanship of all sorts of boats and boatbuilders, and which he assembled in memory of his ancestor Jonathan Griffiths (1773-1839), shipowner, boatbuilder, convict, adventurer and businessman.

Lyndal Lea’s race record is impressive in the Division 2 Couta Boat fleet at the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club, despite her age and traditional vertical cut mainsail.

I have also had fun racing her in a black ballgown and matching feather boa in several Ladies Skipper Races at Sorrento.

My most exciting ride in my boat was on our return from the 2006 Volvo Ocean Race event at Victoria Harbour in Melbourne. The forecast was for a bit of a blow later in the day. We set off early in the company of another small Couta Boat (Russ Watson’s Nellie) while watching the hot air balloons rising from St Kilda. About an hour into the trip, at the spoil grounds in the middle of Port Phillip, a violent squall coming out of the West hit us and we ended up battling waves which at times reached 3 metres and were quite steep for nearly 3 hours. It is a credit to the design of the Couta Boat and to their solid construction techniques that we made it to Queenscliff, and the other boat to Werribee.

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