Tio Hia’s is a 26 foot ‘double ender’, that is to say a traditional Port Phillip net boat. On present information the identity of her builder is uncertain, but thought most likely to be from J J Savage boat builders at Williamstown, Victoria.
Custodian: ‘Chook’ Fowler; Unknown – Early 1980s
‘Chook’ Fowler, a mate of Port Melbourne occasional boat builder Charlie Strong, came across Tio Hia when she was moored at Grassy Point near St Leonards on the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria. He purchased her and kept her for some years up the Maribyrnong River in north-west Melbourne. Knowing little about Couta Boats, ‘Chook’ asked Charlie and Port Melbourne fisherman, Dugga Beazley to check out the boat.
Charlie and Dugga found her to be in reasonable condition but with freshwater oysters growing on her below the water line. As arranged with ‘Chook’, they retrieved her from the river and took her back to the beach at Port Melbourne for further examination. Plans to restore her with new ribs and a new stem got underway. However, the custodian must have been somewhat overwhelmed by the extent of the restoration required, so much so that he on-sold Tio Hia before the work commenced.
Custodian: Michael Gibson; 1980s – Unknown
Michael Gibson purchased Tio Hia in the early 1980s and took her to Sorrento where Chris Young carried out some restorative work. She was used for recreation and participated in early Couta Boat Club events. She was one of some 70 to 80 boats to sink on their mooring in a severe storm with winds over 60 knots that hit Portsea and Sorrento on 26th March 1984, but thankfully she was successfully recovered.
After some time, Tio Hia was returned to her original waters at the top of Port Phillip, being kept at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS) Marina in St Kilda.
Custodian: Nick Bevis; Unknown
She was sold to Nick Bevis who sailed her out of RMYS for quite a while, including making the trip to Geelong to compete in the annual Australia Day, Festival of Sails Regatta held at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club.
Dugga Beazley was employed to do further work on Tio Hia, namely: moving the engine forward to immediately aft of the centre-case, and installing a taller mast and a bigger rig. When the work was completed, Nick sent Tio Hia to his son, Fred, in Sydney.
Custodian: Fred Bevis; 2000s – Present
Tio Hia was then kept on the Harbour at the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club (SASC), Cremorne, home to many classic boats. She competed in a number of their events for gaff rigged and classic boats including a win in the 2009 Australia Day Regatta. On that occasion, when skippered by Beverley, she took the honours from Fred Bevis who was placed second in their 31 foot, 1930 New Zealand sloop Warana.