Thistle fished out of Port Fairy for most of its working life. It was built on the Maribyrnong River by JR Jones in 1903. The couta fishery began to decline from the 1920s. In the 1960s, with an engine added, Thistle was used for towing, and in the 1970s was converted to a houseboat. In 1990 it was restored to its early 1900s configuration.

The boats were sturdy and broad beamed, with a centreboard which could be raised and lowered for good handling and drift fishing. Their powerful rig, with tall sails and down-turned bowsprit, gave them speed to outrun bad weather and for racing each other home to get the best price for the catch.

Ship specifications

Length 8.61 m on deck
Breadth 7.07 m
Draught 2.44 m centreboard down
Displacement 5.78 tonnes
Construction Carvel planking, New Zealand kauri, stem keel and sternpost Western Australian jarrah, frames blackwood, spars oregon, sails cotton
Sail Lug-rig sloop, area 55.43 m
Restoration Tim Phillips, Sorrento, Victoria