To many English ship modelers, the Thames Sailing Barge (photos above) represents a vessel of great interest and it is therefore no wonder that so many are modeled and raced under the very well organized race programme series run each year. The Thames barges have been sailing, I think I read, since the end of the 19th century, many still in use today for both racing and pleasure. The barge was a type of commercial sailing boat common on the River Thames in London. Flat- bottomed and perfectly suitable to the often shallow waters and narrow rivers of the Thames estuary.
Wooden hulled mainly with plumb ends, they also traded further afield to the English south coast, and to the north of England transporting mud, sand, bricks coal grain and rubbish and needed only a crew of two. They were usually between eighty and ninety feet long with large hung rudders. The sailing models make for a grand sight, particularly a `fair few’ fleet of them sailing together and they are equally impressive as the fullsize barges which are still sailed in barge matches today.
Over in the Netherlands their Skutsje sailing barges are somewhat different in design (photos below), and according to friend and model shipwright/photographer, Hans Staal there is a renewed interest in them as RC sailing models. The ships were used for carrying cargo such as manure and peat-soil to the farms along the inland waterways of the Netherlands. Long and with a flat bottom sp that they could sail on these waterways most of them were built between 1800 and 1930, first in wood and in later years out of steel, Each year they hold a big racing schedule over two weeks for skutsjes in Friesland in the north of the Netherlands
Hans who has provided me with these facts says that in The Hague Model Boat Club they wanted to build, sail and race model skutsjes and he built a prototype and with a great deal of help from members a mould was made and ten hulls produced. The prototype was built of foam, the hulls from polyester and club member, Wim Moonen was the first to complete a model. The hull length is 1.40m and with an extra keel the models sail well. To date five of the boats have been completed.
Indrek Lepson lives in Louisburg, North Carolina in the USA and is a man who has built more models than he can remember over a lengthy period of years. Although from what I am led to believe these are mostly display models, and many are very small (in many cases a matter of a few inches in length) they are indeed true works of art that are extensive in detail, and I choose to show you a couple here above. Top left is a model of Bacardi, a sloop designed by Quincy Adams for the du Ponts. Shortly after they got Indrek’s model, the boat shed along with the boat were destroyed by fire and they had only the model as a three dimensional reminder of her, and the second one at right, a lovely schooner.
An anti-clobber protective measure this might be described as but in reality it was all a bit of fun offered by Auckland Ancient Mariner, Richard Gross as a visual message to a fellow skipper with a penchant for `inadvertant sideswiping’. His Starlet was seen fitted with inflated balloons (`Nautical Rumpy-Bumpy Boat Condoms’ I am told is what they are called !) taped alongside its hulls. A quick squeeze soon sorted one side out, the other side surviving in order to be photographed It is a strange world indeed is it not?
Whatever happened to the model schooner races that used to be held at Cape Porpoise, Maine in the USA I am prompted to ask? Mr Ed Hutchins who gave me some details many years ago took the photograph (above right) at this unique event where the non-RC boats were followed and their courses altered by skippers in rowboats. The event was started way back in the 1930’s by Ed’s father or grandfather, both lobstermen, I seem to remember being told. Is the event still held, perhaps someone can enlighten me?
It happened in July 2004 at a Maritime Festival held on the Charleston, South Carolina waterfront in the US when friend, Andrew Charters had two of his schooners on display and where the spectators were treated to an impromptu sailing by the William Fife designed Cicely (at left of the picture) and Andrew’s other boat, Columbia. It wasn’t a race really (Andrew says): “I was sailing Cicely and Elliot Dodds was sailing Columbia and we just let them go as they went bow to bow beside each other. Larry Cummins caught them on camera for this wonderful photograph”.
When Rolex-sponsored yachting events take place in various parts of the world (and they include the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney to Hobart), writers can usually be guaranteed excellent, often really stunning photographs free for editorial use. The photographers they contract are among the most talented specialists in marine photography, photographers like Carlo Borlenghi, Daniel Forster, and now Kurt Arrigo who photographed the Farr 40 Flash Gordon (above) in the Rolex Settimana delle Bocche races held at Porto Servo in Sardinia, Italy in June last year. I have shown Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi photos in this column before, and in the second photograph (top right) here is another one that Borlenghi took of ABN AMRO ONE off Sydney in 2006. Feel the spray, hear the power of whooshing water as the boat cuts through!. (Let me set the record straight: No I don’t wear a Rolex Yacht Master II, just in case you are wondering, nor do I expect one in the mail! I just think such great photographs are inspirational and are worth sharing)
`Luffter’ is an important activity on the Auckland windling scene! Above left (or is that `luft’?) in the first of two photos by Richard Gross on a windless day last July, two guys `cosy up’ for warmth. And the photo below that, Roy Lake’s wonderful wooden Bugatti just can’t carry a model yacht… or can it?
To conclude… the `Medal of Great Bravery’ must go to Felix Hunter-Farklehumdinger Jr. in the US Midwest for having named his Fairwind model yacht, Passing Foul Wind.