Rosebud was built by Ken Lacco at Rosebud, Victoria circa 1935.
Custodian: The Williams Family
She was built for the Williams family who fished out of Port Fairy on the south-west coast of Victoria. A well was fitted in her at the time of her build, indicating that she was most likely used for catching crayfish. She is 28 foot in length.
Custodian: Cockie Arkell
At some time in her early years, Rosebud was purchased from the Williams family by Cockie Arkell, a local fisherman from Portland, Victoria. He used Rosebud to go cray fishing and longlining for shark, principally in Discovery Bay, west of Cape Bridgewater.
It is not known for how long Cockie was custodian of Rosebud before he sold her to the Feast family.
Custodian: The Feast Family
The Feast family was part of the fishing fraternity in Port MacDonnell, a small port located just across the Victorian border in South Australia. Rosebud was used by the family for cray fishing and ‘couta-ing out of Port MacDonnell. In this period she was decked in and had a wheel-house.
Custodian: Chum Nutt; Early 1970s – Late 1980s
Rosebud was utilised as a cray vessel in South Australian waters for the next 30 or so years, until the early 1970s when another Portland local Chum Nutt became her next custodian. She was towed back to Portland where it was Chum’s intention to refurbish the boat and convert her into a cruising vessel, including fitting her with a cabin. A fibre-glass cabin was fitted, but that was the extent of the restoration and of Chum’s plans for a cruising boat.
In the early to mid 1980s, Chum eventually found a new custodian for Rosebud. She was transported to the custodian’s property outside Portland and parked under a tree, where she remained for a few years. However, because the owner had not finally settled the transaction, legally, Rosebud Chum was still her custodian.
Custodian: Stewart Fechner; Late 1980s – Present
Within a few years, Chum had approached Stewart Fechner, a local Portland engineer with an interest in Couta Boats, and asked him if he wanted to buy ‘a real boat’. The proposition appealed to Stewart and an arrangement was made for him to purchase Rosebud for $3,500.
Stewart borrowed a truck with a crane and transported Rosebud to his backyard, then built his garage around her and undertook a restoration. Stewart was ably assisted by his mate Roy Jennings who at the time owned Ariel C23, and was keen for another Couta Boat to provide competition on the water. From time to time, they were assisted by another sailing mate.
The restoration of Rosebud took eight months, and in that period Stewart and Roy claimed to have had only one day off from working on the boat. It was a full-on commitment. Eventually, Rosebud was restored to her original glory.
The next task was to fit Rosebud out as a sailing boat but the bank account was low. However, through a few connections an arrangement was made for timber to be purchased to build the mast and spars. This was possible through the support of Ken Douglas who operated a local sawmill and who imported timber from Canada. His son was over in Canada at the time and was able to select a pack of Douglas Fir Oregon to be sent back to Portland, part of which was purchased by Stewart. Consequently, the mast was built out of Oregon whilst the bowsprit was built out of Red Bark.
When the refurbishment was completed, Rosebud was berthed in the Portland marina and became a regular competitor to Ariel C23 and on occasions, a third boat. After the race, the crew would gather for drinks in the local yacht club to re-live their racing tactics. This became a weekly ritual until the manager of the club told Roy to get his dog off the premises. Roy’s response was:
If the dog goes, I go too.
Then the crew all chanted:
If Roy goes, then we go too!
And so Roy, the dog, and the crew of Ariel and Rosebud all walked out of the yacht club and retreated to Roy’s van to set up the local Couta Boat clubhouse. The Couta Boat clubhouse became the regular meeting place for this small sailing fraternity in Portland for some years.
Rosebud is still berthed in the marina at Portland, Victoria and is striking in her port-wine coloured hull. However, in recent years Stewart has not found the time to sail her regularly, but he intends to return to sailing Rosebud soon.