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.

Sally C155

Boat Details

Sail Number:
Previous Names of Boat:
Boat Location:
Port Fairy Wharf, Victoria
Current Custodian:
Andrew, Rod, and Sandra Dunn
Year Built:
Designer & Builder:

Cayzer Brothers, Queenscliff, Vic.

Timbers Used:

Deck: Iroko planking
Ceilings: West African Mahogany
Rudder Cheeks and Short Ribs: New Zealand Kauri
Stem: Jarrah

Length: 23 ft.
Beam: 9 ft. 3 ft.
Draft: 2 ft. 3 ft.


Custodian: Arthur, Ernst and Frank Norton; c1940s
Sally was built by Cayzer Brothers in Queenscliff, Victoria, in 1940. She was owned by the Norton family; Arthur (Fiery) owned her first, and then his brothers Ernest (Rusty) and Frank. They used her as a fishing vessel on Port Phillip.

Custodian: Dave and Len Harris; Unknown – 1962
She was then sold to Dave Harris and his brother Len who owned a fish shop in Colac and caught their ‘catch’ in Sally out of Lorne on the south-west coast of Victoria.

Apparently, Dave fished for large sharks and one of the stories he tells is the time they were going around their drum lines near the Lorne pier. The lines were slack but a shark about 12 feet long was attached but not moving. As they hauled it in, it gave a great kick, grabbed the boat’s rudder and proceeded to shake the boat with great force. The story was verified years later when the next owners were stripping and painting the rudder and found shark teeth still embedded in the rudder.

Custodian: Doug Tune; 1962 – 1976
In 1962, Sally was sold to Doug Tune whose brother aptly named her Tuna to concur with his nickname, ‘Tuna’.

Doug and his son Geoff worked Tuna out of Lorne from 1962 through to 1976, fishing for ‘couta, abalone, and longlining for school and gummy shark. They also held a 16-pot cray licence. At the time, there were around 24 Couta Boats operating from the Lorne pier where due to its direct exposure to the southern seas, the smaller vessels were hoisted to and from the pier; a crane was used to lower the boats into the water and then to haul them back up at the end of day.

It was not unusual for Doug and Geoff to catch around 30 boxes of  ‘couta each day; they also fished abalone and shark. It is interesting to note that some of the Couta Boats at Lorne crossed Bass Strait to fish in Tasmanian waters; some even sailed to Western Australia, to help start the crayfish industry in Geraldton.

The father and son duo had interesting times in Tuna. One of the stories recalled tells that while cray fishing in 60 metres of water near Point Hoyden, one hour west of Lorne, they noticed the swells were increasing but still considered it safe to pull the cray pots. While pulling the second pot, Doug noticed a huge wave building out to sea so quickly put the boat in gear and just made it over a very steep wave before it broke. The boat came down the other side very hard, and to his surprise there were no other waves in sight. Shortly after, he noticed that the bilge was still pumping, and so lifted the floor boards and saw that the boat was filling with water. They were still more than an hour from Lorne and the swell was too big to beach the boat; they headed home at full throttle. Despite being a cold morning, Doug had to throw buckets of water over himself to keep cool, as he baled water with a bucket all the way back to Lorne. Once back to the Lorne Pier, they discovered that the crashing over the monster wave had sprung a plank on the keel; it took Doug and Geoff several days to recover from the physical ordeal.

When they told people, they fished in Bass Strait, Doug was often asked by friends what sort of boat he owned. His usual reply was:

One with gears, so I can get over the waves!

Custodian: ‘Shorty’ Tully; 1976 – 1990s
In 1976, Tuna was purchased by ‘Shorty’ Tully in Torquay, after which she was taken to Portland, a fishing port further west of Lorne.

Custodian: John Ardlie; 2005 – 2013
In the 1990s, Tuna was saved from deterioration and restored to ‘top sailing’ order. The custodian at that time is unknown.

With a change of custodianship to John Ardlie in 2005 Tuna sailed from Portland to Port Fairy in December of that year for renovations. Tuna was renovated in 2006. A new Yanmar 3YM 20 hp was fitted with Jarrah platform and new mounts.

In 2008, the deck was replaced in Iroko planking, the ceilings with West African Mahogany, the stem with Jarrah and the short ribs with Western Australian Karri. These modifications were done by John and Tony Kettler, an ex-boatbuilder who came out of retirement for this project. She was as good as new again.

Custodian: Dunn Family; 2013 – Present
Tuna was sold to Andrew, Rod and Sandra Dunn locals of Port Fairy in December 2013. They have since returned her name to Sally and continue to fish and sail her from her mooring at the wharf in Port Fairy, Victoria.

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