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.

Vandra C1948

Boat Details

Sail Number:
Boat Location:
Sorrento, Victoria.
Current Custodian:
Barry Dawes
Year Built:
Designer & Builder:

Alec Lacco, Rosebud, Victoria.

Timbers Used:

NZ Kauri

Length: 22 ft. 6 ins.
Beam: 8 ft. 6 ins.
Draft: 2 ft. 6.ins.


Custodian: Leo Phillips; 1948 – c 1952
Built by Alec Lacco in Rosebud, Victoria in 1948, Vandra was commissioned by Mr Leo Phillips of Portsea, Victoria for use as a pleasure craft.

Sorrento boatbuilder Tim Phillips who is the son of Leo Phillips, described Vandra as a ‘transition’ boat, in that she was built at 22 foot 6 inches to the design of a Couta Boat but with a cabin; she was also built wider and shallower, without a centre-case and was not rigged for sailing. Her original engine was an 8 HP twin cyl. Stuart Turner 2 stroke petrol engine which Leo imported from the UK.

Leo Phillips was a member of the Little Ship Club; he entered Vandra in a ‘Round the Bay’ rally in either 1940 -1950. In 1950, he and his new wife embarked on a honeymoon in Vandra around Port Phillip. On the first leg of the journey, they went to Queenscliff where they spent 10 days with the Queenscliff Couta Boat fishermen. In Eleanor’s words:

We fished with them during the day and drank with them afterwards.

Custodian: Mr McCoy; 1952 – 1999
At some stage in 1952, Vandra was sold to a Mr McCoy and was moored near the pier at Rye. At a time in this period, Vandra was taken to Eildon Weir in north-east Victoria. However, after an incident in which Mr McCoy’s small daughter feel overboard but fortunately survived, the boat was returned to suburban Melbourne where for close to 30 years she sat next to a shed in Warrigal Road Ashburton, and never returned to the water. Tim Phillips recalls visiting the boat there quite often, over a period of at least 10 years.

Vandra’s next location was in a barn at Kilmore on the outskirts of Melborune, from where she was advertised for sale, in 1999.

Custodian: Barry Dawes; 1999 – Present
Accompanied by the original custodian’s grandson, Sam Phillips, Vandra’s current custodian Barry Dawes travelled to Kilmore to take possession of the boat, which was sitting amongst old cars and covered in peacock ‘poop’. Barry and Sam returned her to the Wooden Boat Shop in Sorrento.

In the following year, Barry commenced rebuilding Vandra, assisted by an apprentice boatbuilder and under the guidance of Tim Phillips. The boat was stripped back to her shell: new inlaid frames, a new deck and a new cabin, and a new Yanmar 2 cyl engine were fitted.

Just on 50 year after leaving the water, Vandra was re-launched and ‘not a drop of water leaked from her.’

Over the last 20 years, Barry has used Vandra as a recreational boat. Now that he is retired, he looks forward to using her more frequently.

Vandra remains moored at Sorrento.



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