|Small, blunt bowed, rowing utility boats (‘Puntos’) were used by fishermen and families up and down the coast of Tasmania. There is a nice picture of one in collection taken by Edward Linnell around 1900 at Port Esperance, with the Linnell family boat ‘Lucy’ in the background.
Jenni Hutchison has included the story of the family Punto in her book ‘The Baysiders’, based around St Helens.
Several times throughout this story my little dinghy PUNTO has been mentioned and I think its quite worthy. Only a small dinghy about # 8 oot with a blunt bow, clinker built. It was remarkable how it kept coming back to us when it had been lost. One of the first times was up at Musselroe when we had FLORRIE, the bigger boat, and we put Punto up onto a rock when we were getting stuff on and off. The sea must have washed her off because next thing we saw Punto going out to sea, several 100 yds out, but next morning, as we were coming back down the coast, we saw Punto up on the beach, not more than 50 yds from where she went from. That was so incredible.
We kept using her. We had her at Georges Rocks, and when we went home we left her on a mooring there. If a big sea came in while we were home, she’d usually swamp and just float there, submerged. When the kelp came in it would twist and turn her, and this time, she took off. When we came back to Georges Rocks there was no Punto, because there had been a big sea. When we were chugging around setting our gear, there was old Punto, with what was left of her mooring line stuck in a bit of bull kelp. She wasn’t damaged and we got her back again. Another time, when old Pop Pike was working Doods boat with Graeme Partridge. I don’t know what Dood was doing but Pop was doing a trip. Anyway, they had an old clay engine at this stage, and it used to give a fair bit of trouble. It would have a fit and it would stop and you could not start the darned thing. Then you would get it started and away it would go. Anyway, we were going down to St Helens, the sea was making and we headed home. Pop left a bit ahead of us. When we got down to Eddystone, there was a fair lump of a sea, and the old clay engine had broken down. Pop and Graeme were drifting in, trying vainly to start this motor. They were drifting in close so we got in and tied a bow line onto them and started towing them while they persisted in starting the motor. Towing them slowed us down quite a bit so by the time we got down there it had got dark. We couldn’t see to get in and we had all our fish on. If we waited we might have had to wait a couple of days and we’d have lost them, all our fish, so we decided to head all the way back to Georges again so we could coff them up. We were towing Punto, but when we towed Pop, we passed Punto back for him to tow. We towed them all the way down to the barway, then we turned around and towed them back up. When we got back to Eddystone, we decided to have a bit of a snooze. We’d had it. North East sea was fairly nasty. Anyway,
Pop discovered that Punto was missing. Somewhere through the night she had disappeared. We thought that would be the end of Punto, again, however, several weeks later, when we were going down the bay, we saw this dinghy over on the beach, over near the Chimneys’, so we went to have a look and sure enough, it was PUNTO. It had found its way home, coming in over the bar by itself, tried to get home and got pretty close ah she was an incredible little boat. When the VAGABOND caught alight, Punto caught alight too and burnt her pretty thin. I had to replace one short plank and the rest were still pretty thin, but she survived that as well. She was a really smart little boat. Eventually Punto was passed over. Some time back when David was still a young boy, it was passed over to him. It became his little boat. Later on he traded it in for some other dammed thing, I don’t know what the heck it was, but I believe Punto still lives, on display, down at the Bicheno Sealife Centre