Nellie was built in the early 1900s, but the exact date and details of her build are not known. Although she is just 21 foot 6 inches in length, she has a wide beam of 9 foot.
Custodian: Brett Almond; 2004 – 2005
Nellie operated as a fishing vessel out of Geelong in Victoria. St Leonard’s boatbuilder Brett Almond found her in front of Fisherman’s Pier in Geelong. He was able to establish that at the time she was owned by a charity organisation, but due to a lack of finance, it was unable to utilize her as a service boat.
Brett undertook the task of re-building and restoring Nellie in his boatshed at St Leonards, Victoria in 2004. Her original planking and ribs were still intact but her centre-case was rotten. Brett knocked out every nail in the boat and replaced them. This would be a painstaking task for any boat builder.
Custodian: Russell Watson; 2005 – 2020
Before the restoration was completed, Nellie was sold to local Drysdale identity Russell Watson in 2005. Russell completed the restoration. He suspects that Nellie may have come from Port Fairy, as evidenced by a photo of a Port Fairy boat with same name and the same unique shaped transom dating back to 1907.
Nellie is described by Russell as having a plumb bow and a fine transom. He also believes that she may have been built by a very handy fisherman, with help from a boat builder. She has the unique feature of a stern post behind the prop, which was obviously installed so the boat could be run up on the beach for an annual re-paint without putting the skeg at risk.
Custodian: Gary Sutton and Russell Watson; 2020 – Present
Russell raced Nellie successfully with the Queenscliff Lonsdale Yacht Club (QLYC) fleet for many years. Nellie has also regularly competed in the biennial Wooden Boat Festival in Geelong. Russell Watson and long-time crewman Gary Sutton became joint-custodians. Due to Russell’s demanding work commitments, Gary has assumed the responsibility for Nellie’s race-readiness and for her continued presence in the QLYC fleet.
Nellie is berthed in the Queenscliff Marina.