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Patsy

Vessel Number: HV000634
Date: c1920
Builder: JB Jones
Previous Owner:
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
PATSY is a Victorian Couta boat built in Melbourne around 1920. It was built by JB Jones and used in Victorian waters until the late 1940s when it was taken to Tasmania where it continued couta fishing . It was bought and restored for the Museum Victoria in the 1980s and is on display in its original configuration.
DescriptionPATSY was built by JB Jones in his boatshed on the Maribyrnong River at Ascot Vale around 1920 however the exact date remains unknown. It is planked in Huon pine over blackwood frames. It was built at a time when engines were a normal installation on couta boats, so it has a fuller stern shape with more volume to account for the engines weight and location. PATSY is 25’6” long, and features an oval cockpit, centreboard and gaff sloop rig layout. The forward centre plate case end stop is aft of the coamings. This might indicate that this vessel may have been built with the view of passenger transportation and allowed a person to a walk around the stern easily when the boom was not in place.

JB Jones also built Ariel (HV000040) and he was the son of JR Jones who built THISTLE (HV000023) and VIATOR (HV000561). JR Jones’ boats were deep in the fore foot with a hollow waterline forward and also deep in the stern whereas JB Jones’ boats were much shallower in the bow with straight waterline entries. Both father and son built straight stem profiles.

PATSY was used for fishing in the north end of the bay and not at sea, but the details of its ownership have not been recorded. In 1946 PATSY was bought by 18 year old Kevin Douglas and sailed to Devonport in Tasmania. Jack Savages yard at Williamstown surveyed the boat and built a small cuddy structure over the cockpit before it left. Douglas’ uncle, an experienced skipper on the KERMANDIE sailed as well, The pair had only a primus stove and some bully beef, and were expecting to catch some couta along the way to add to their rations. They sailed first to Sorrento, and then headed out through Port Phillip Heads. Off Cape Otway they were hit by a fierce north west gale and drifted hove too in Bass Strait for 30 hours. Although confident that it was able to handle the conditions, the experience left them exhausted, and they returned to Sorrento. They left again six weeks later, this time crossing comfortably and stopping along the way at Grassy on King Island, Three Hummock Island and then Stanley in the north west of Tasmania.

Douglas fished for couta from Devonport and within two years had paid off the vessel and was making a good living. Boat builder Murray Griffiths in Port Sorell bought the couta boat from Douglas in about 1950 and continued to use it for fishing until the 1980s. He renamed it PATSY after his wife. A later owner in 1993 was David Yaxley.

Sorrento boat builder and couta boat enthusiast Tim Phillips first saw PATSY in the early 1970s when he was in Tasmania. Later, when he was asked about finding a suitable couta boat for display at the Museum of Victoria, he advised that PATSY would be suitable, and made arrangements to purchase and restore the boat to its original configuration. Phillips had recently made a similar arrangement with the Australian National Maritime Museum to restore THISTLE, and worked with museum shipwright conservator Michael Staples on this project. PATSY was completed in the late 1990s and Michael Staples also acted as an advisor on the restoration work for PATSY.

Once completed PATSY was donated on behalf of the Couta Boat Club to Museum Victoria in May 2000.

Vessel Details
Ballast:internal
Current status:on public display
Deck layout:open/foredeck
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:oar
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:plumb stemvertical stem
Hull shape:plumb transomvertical transom
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:pivoting centreboardswing board
Keel/centreboard/rudder type:transom rudder
Motor propulsion:auxiliary motor
Propeller:single
Rig type:gaff
Rig type:sloop
Sail cloth:cotton
Spar material:timber

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