BOAT OF THE MONTH - Lacco couta boat Sardie

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For sale $32,975

BOAT OF THE MONTH - Lacco couta boat Sardie
BOAT OF THE MONTH — Lacco couta boat

You can’t beat the charm of a wooden boat of any description, particularly Victoria’s home-grown couta boats. But let’s face it, unwary owners can find they are stumped and burdened with upkeep. It can be a real search just finding a shipwright competent and knowledgeable in the ways of wood, to undertake repairs, often for a hefty fee for the specialised service.

"The old shipwrights just aren’t around these days," says Peter Howells, 68, who owns the subject of this month’s Pre-loved, a powered couta boat called Sardie. The difference with his cabin-topped 20-footer is she is all fibreglass and Ken Lacco designed and built.

"Being a Lacco, she has all the looks and seakindly characteristics that Lacco’s wooden couta boats are renowned for, but without the maintenance issues," says Pete. "People with wooden boats can find it difficult to find a shipwright to rerib or replace planks. There’s still a few wooden boatbuilders around, but the real craftsmen aren’t there like they used to be."

And our man Pete does have the authority to say so. He is Trade-a-Boat’s oldest crewmember, holding the position for past 20 years of advertising account manager for Victoria and Tasmania. Pete knows just about everybody in the local industry, giving a lot of present-day boat dealers their first jobs in recreational boating, and is a veritable walking encyclopaedia of the scene since WWII.

He’s been aboard and owned boats of all descriptions — including a clinker Pompeii and Bertram 25 to name a couple — since he was a six-year-old growing up on the beach in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Aspendale. The family home backed onto the broad white-sand dunes of Longbeach that arc south from Mordialloc to Seaford.

Before joining Trade-a-Boat, The Book of Dreams, Pete found a career in the early 1970s with giant American recreational marine company Brunswick Corporation. Serving as a state sales manager for Mariner outboards, he later moved to Sydney as the Brunswick’s Australian national marketing administrator for that brand and Mercury when they were brought under the one umbrella.

Pete reckons Sardie — coined by the previous owner and combined from the abbreviation and contraction of his children’s names — is a collectible. The boat, which was launched in January 1983, is only one of two the late Ken Lacco built in fibreglass, and she comes with a certificate of authentication from the builder.

A well-maintained couta boat, Sardie with her white hull and blue trim topped with a cabin and wheelhouse, first caught Pete’s eye several years ago when moored at Sandringham Yacht Club. He managed to secure the boat a year later but now wants something a bit quicker.

"Sardie has a top speed of 6kts and that limits what you can do," said Pete, who added that following some enquiries he’s been told she could go faster with a repower to a bigger engine and a tweak of the prop.

"I really think she would suit an older, retired person who’s into fishing and has the time to do so.

"She will go through anything and is completely dry. With plenty of lead ballast you can’t beat the ride, particularly on calm water like in an estuary, bay or river, and she’s as solid as a rock at rest.

"I took her out the other day along Patterson River and it was just magic puttering along," he said.

Among Sardie’s features are a lock-up cabin with twin bunks, a marine toilet in the bow, plenty of natural light, and electric lighting. These things make her a comfy proposition for overnighting. There’s full engine instrumentation, VHF radio, AM/FM radio cassette, compass and sounder in the wheelhouse and good head height at the helm. The boat, therefore, has both tiller and ship-wheel steering and, on a sunny day Pete says, there is nothing more enjoyable than cruising along steering
at the helm.

Also onboard, are manual and 24-hour electric bilge pumps, dual marine batteries (12 months old) with isolator switch, electric switch panel, electric anchor winch, stainless steel swing-up transom swing ladder incorporating a bracket for an auxiliary outboard (up to 4hp), full cockpit covers, storage, two anchors and all-chain rode, and plenty of bits and pieces.

And you could say Sardie’s naturally aspirated two-cylinder Yanmar diesel gives the boat unstoppable performance. The engine comes with a crank handle and is fitted with decompression levers meaning it will start, even if both batteries or the starter motor fails. "It’s hard work and you need to be a circus elephant but she will start… just remember to remove the crank handle before flicking the levers or it’ll take your arm off," said Pete.

Our crewmate now admits that he doesn’t really want to part with his couta boat, and one gets the feeling a bit of family pressure may be weighing on him to sell.

"If it sells, it sells, but quite honestly I love the little thing and I’m really torn between selling her or not," says Pete. "There’s just something about her."

This classic Lacco-designed boat has the looks and seakindly qualities that Lacco boats have been renowned for over many generations, but without the maintenance that a wooden boat requires.

Not only is she a very dry boat in a choppy sea but a great boat for fishing or lounging around at anchor with the family onboard.

There’s plenty of storage onboard, particularly in the lock-up cabin with twin upholstered berths and extensive lighting for a night onboard. All
instruments and accessories have fuses.

With a certificate verifying her authenticity, this fibreglass couta boat is only one of two known to be built by the famous Ken Lacco and a rare find.

(Quick Specs)
Lacco couta boat

FOR SALE: $32,975
MATERIAL: Airex/fibreglass sandwich
TYPE: Displacement monohull
LENGTH: 20ft6in
BEAM: 8ft
DRAFT: 0.6m
ENGINE: 18hp Yanmar 2GM 20 diesel
PROP: Three-blade
DETAILS: To book an inspection and for further information, phone 0419 005 155 or email:


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