Valda was built by J B Jones at his boatyard on the Maribyrnong River at Ascot Vale, in Melbourne. While the exact year of her build is not known, she is similar in build to Patsy which was constructed by J B Jones around 1920.
Her location during the next three decades is unknown but, as with other Jones’ boats built in this era, it is likely she was used for fishing on Port Phillip and along the Victorian south-west coastline.
After World War II, it is believed the boat was sold to a person whose surname was Douglas, possibly from Williamstown. Then in the 1950s Valda was taken to the Westernport region where she remained for the next 30 years, presumably being used as a fishing vessel.
Custodian: Ian Henderson; 1989 – 2010
In the early 1980s, when gaff-rigged fishing vessels were undergoing a revival as a competitive sailing craft out of Portsea in Victoria, former dinghy and Etchell sailor Ian Henderson began sailing on Rip. He was quickly drawn to the idea of owning a classic boat, but one built with a straight-stem, of which there were few known. Initially, Ian wanted to restore the classic Thistle, but she was selected by Tim Phillips as a restoration project for the Australian National Museum.
Tim Phillips found Valda at Corinella, Western Port in 1988 and restored her for Ian at the Wooden Boat Shop in Sorrento. She was completely re-ribbed and given a new stem. She was then relaunched in 1989 and moored off Lentell Avenue, Sorrento.
One of the first sailing events for Ian and his restored Valda was the Portsea Cup, still in the time when the boats used to raft up at the Portsea Pier for the race. On that day, an onlooker David Yaxley from Port Sorell in Tasmania, claimed he owned a boat that looked exactly the same at Valda. The boat was Patsy; another Jones’ boat built with a straight stem, which later was restored for display in the Melbourne Museum as a historic fishing craft.
In the time that Ian owned Valda, he campaigned her in the Couta Boat Club fleet regularly and with good success, including: Handicap winner of the Petersville Couta Boat Regatta in 1991 and winner of the Couta Boat Association Nationals in 2001. Ian reflects that this was the period in which the fleet underwent a transformation, attracting some very experienced sailors.
The racing got very serious. And I had bought a Couta Boat to have a change from the serious sailing. However, after sailing single hull dinghies and 3 man Etchells, Ian, unfortunately, found the task of organising and maintaining a regular crew of up to six to eight sailors to be an onerous task.
Besides the serious competition racing, Valda served the Henderson family well as a recreational sailing craft. Often, they undertook excursions beyond the vicinity of Portsea. Some of their memorable trips included sailing across Port Phillip to Queenscliff for lunch, sailing further afield beyond Queenscliff to the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, sailing along the shoreline from Portsea to the Quarantine Station for a swim, and sailing further, to view the Point Nepean pristine environment. From time to time, Valda ventured through the notorious The Rip at Port Phillip Heads and into Bass Strait.
After owning Valda for 20 years and competing regularly in the Couta Boat fleet, it was time for Ian to sell her. In 2010 she was sold to Glen Walker.
Custodian: Glen Walker; 2010 – Present
Over the last 10 years Glen has used Valda for recreational sailing in preference to competition racing, sailing along the coastline at the southern end of Port Phillip and venturing out to the middle of the bay to Pope’s Eye. She has also participated numerous times in the annual KPMG event held at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club.
Valda is moored at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club.