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.

Snow-Goose ME 03 – A Traditional Wooden Boat

Boat Details

Sail Number:
ME 03
Boat Location:
Williamstown, Victoria.
Current Custodian:
Richard Blake
Year Built:
Designer & Builder:

Designed by Jack Savage, Williamstown, Victoria

Built by Max Creese at Battery Point, Hobart

Timbers Used:

Hull: Huon Pine

Frames: Blue Gum

Keel: Stringy Bark

Length: 27 ft
Beam: 8 ft 6 in
Draft: 3 ft 9 in


Custodian: Howard Wright; 1951 – 1965

Snow Goose was designed by Jack Savage of Williamstown in Melbourne, Victoria. She was built at Battery Point, Hobart, in 1951 by Max Creese for Melbourne innerspring mattress manufacturer Howard Wright. She is Huon Pine carvel planked on Blue Gum frames; the keel is Stringy Bark and was cut at Clennett’s Sawmill.

She was fitted with a 4 cylinder 30 hp Thorneycroft diesel engine and was rigged as a Bermudan sloop. John Lucas was the apprentice who worked on the building of Snow Goose. Peter Creese, Max’s son recalled how he, his father and two crew sailed her to Portsea, Victoria from Hobart to deliver her to her new owner Howard Wright.

Custodian: Dr John Noonan; 1965 – Mid 1980s

In 1965, Snow Goose was sold to Dr John Noonan. He kept her at Portsea, Port Phillip over summer and at Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) for the winter.

John Noonan, the son of Dr Noonan, has recorded some of his memories.

In the early Spring, Snow Goose was taken down to Portsea, Port Phillip and hung off a mooring at the front of my father’s property at Portsea just to the east of Point Franklin. During the winter period the boat was slipped at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club where long weekends were spent stripping the varnish back to the wood on the deck.

 This was then followed by sanding back to an appropriate surface and then re-varnishing the deck with numerous coats of varnish. Snow Goose was fitted with a very powerful Thorneycroft diesel engine. Every ounce of its power was needed to combat the ebb tide which on occasions was encountered when we returned from fishing out in Bass Strait. We would only go fishing in Bass Strait on northerly wind days as Snow Goose was not fitted with a self-draining cockpit.

Snow Goose remained in Dr Noonan’s possession for the best part of 30 years. In this time she was used predominantly as a fishing boat, fishing for snapper at the Pope’s Eye fishing mark at the southern end of Port Phillip, the Goorangii mark and also for whiting in The Bend.

John Noonan recalls that his father’s great love was to go out into Bass Strait on northerly wind days where they would fish for snapper off the reefs off London Bridge and then proceed two to three kilometres off Sorrento fishing for large flathead on the sand flats in that location.

Custodians: Michael Blair, Peter Cox and Robert Stephens; mid1980s – 1994,

In the mid1980s, Snow Goose was sold to Michael Blair, Peter Cox and Robert Stephens, members at Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Port Phillip.

As their first commitment was to competitive keel boat sailing, this trio used the boat for recreational sailing with their families on Port Phillip. And with her stepped mast, they were able to navigate under the bridges to gain access to both the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers.

After owing her for approximately eight years, they sold Snow Goose to Peter Blake in 1994.

Custodian: Peter Blake; 1994 – 1996

In 1994, Peter Blake of Metung, Victoria, purchased Snow Goose and set about restoring her to her classic beauty. The Thornycroft motor was replaced by a 31 hp Sole diesel engine. The engine remains in the vessel to this day. Peter Blake’s son, Richard who is a shipwright, took a sail plan off a 26 foot Couta Boat and built a new mast, gaff and bowsprit and converted her to a gaff rigger. The Blake family had two great years on the Gippsland Lakes, cruising and racing in the Classic Yacht races at Metung, Victoria.

Custodian: Peter Gunnersen; 1996 – 2009

In 1996, Peter Blake needed another project so he sold the boat to Peter Gunnersen of Melbourne. Peter had lost his leg in an accident and thought she would be too difficult to sail alone as a gaff rig, so he asked Peter and Richard to revert the rig back to a Bermudian rig for ease of handling. The new sail plan was designed. The original Bermudian mast was extended and the jibboom was shortened.

During the period when Peter Gunnersen owned Snow Goose, he commissioned Allan Lancaster, a shipwright based in Metung, Victoria to replace the Huon Pine decks with a new Teak laid, caulked deck on a ply sub-deck. Peter loved Snow Goose and maintained her to a high standard.

Custodian: Peter Galbally; c2009 – 2016

In about 2009, Peter Galbally bought Snow Goose. He had sailed and fished off Snow Goose in his early years with the Noonan family at Portsea, on Port Phillip.

Unfortunately, Peter was affected by bad health and was unable to use the boat as much as he would have liked. He sadly died whilst still the owner of the boat.

Peter’s wife Sue Galbally contacted Peter Blake in March 2012 to see if the Blake family might be interested in re-purchasing Snow Goose, which they were, and so she was sold to Peter Blake for a second time.

Custodian: Richard Blake; 2016 – Present

Peter set to task in sprucing up Snow Goose. However, now in his late 80s, he soon found he was not up to the task of restoring her and asked his son, Richard to complete the work he had started. Snow Goose was trucked to Melbourne in 2016 and Richard has rebuilt the cockpit, replaced the stern tube, prop shaft, remounted the engine, replaced the centre-plate casing and is rebuilding the cabin top.

She is currently being re-fitted at Blunts’ Boatyard in Williamstown after which she will be moored at Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron. Eventually, Richard hopes to return Snow Goose to the Gippsland Lakes in Southern Victoria.

Additional Notes

A wonderful article on Snow-Goose, published by Southern Woodenboat Sailing, can be found on this link:

Hardback Coffee Table Couta Boat Book

The Hardback Coffee Table Couta Boat Book is now available for order.
The book is a fascinating mix of wonderful photos and interesting stories.
CLICK HERE to Buy The Tradition Lives On – a Register of the Historic Couta Boats