Where the Winds Blow... click here to read or make an observation about this  article

by Mark Steele - Auckland, New Zealand


Welcome to the first issue of `Where the winds blow’ a column which I hope given the passage of time and tide will be considered worthy of enjoyment by some readers of Duckworks magazine. Let me ask you to believe me, that there has been an amazing growth of interest in model sailboats, particularly those that with radio control are sailed on the ponds and lakes, even the rivers of several nations.

`DROMMEN' built and owned by Wim Moonen, Netherlands master builder.

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I write from Auckland, New Zealand and for eleven and a half years have produced a magazine called Windling World which I have decided to cease publishing after it appears in December. Having been in touch with people involved in model sailing boats in some fifteen countries, I have been amazed at the quantity both building and then sailing (or what I call `windling’, ie cruising rather than serious racing) of model boats reliant on the wind. Another observation is that ten years ago it was hard to find anyone willing to undertake a build of a square-rigged model that sailed, and today there are so many exciting models of this nature being built, along with ketches, the odd pirate vessel, island traders, pilot cutters, sailing barges, junks and schooners.

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The writer's Fiji Magic schooner FIJIPSY JACK prior to deck details and cabin structures.

Schooners in particular have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and have come a long way in the sailing model scene since my friend, the late John Spencer produced the `Fiji Magic’ hard chine hulled version. Cat-rigged with unstayed masts they included my own Fijipsy Jack (above) that I still own and sail today. Compare this with Andrew Charters of South Carolina’s magnificent RC model of the schooner Cicely (below) and you will appreciate the difference in style, detail and realism displayed by the latter.

Andrew Charters of South Carolina built and sails this Fife design schooner, CICELY.

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What really impresses some people is the length of time some of these models take to construct and fit out, often several years, and I mean `several’. Iin future columns I will tell you about a few cases and the results of those many years of research and building, and I will share with you the models in question. I have written two or three times on model sailing boats already in Duckworks and perhaps you will remember having seen some of the sailing models of various people around the world. The choice of what to construct is in `windling’, limited only by ones imagination, tenacity, an eagerness to `get sailing’ and skill. Models can be as simple or as small as one chooses.

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A Footy sized 12" semi-scale ketch from Aucklander, Ron Rule

Take the little New Zealand FOOTY boats as an example – it is what Ron Rule put into the scratch building of his little semi-scale ketch (above) that makes it attractive to look at, and enables the little twelve inch boat to sail so well. Still in the area of little boats, for those who would like to make a start towards involvement in this relaxing and absorbing hobby, don’t scoff at looking at a kitset 16” free sail coaster schooner put out by George Surgent’s Seaworthy Small Ships in Maryland, USA. From memory it will cost you less than fifty US dollars. It sails well as can be seen in the photograph here (below) and it could be a `starter’ boat that will inspire you on to bigger and more elaborate models.( NO you can’t fit radio control in it, any more than you can power your electric toothbrush with a Pratt and Whitney turbine – there is just not enough room in either the boat or the toothbrush!)

CAPTIONA little 16" free sail schooner available as a kitset from Seaworthy Small Ships in Maryland.

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Another way to quick-start and go up in size, take a short-cut towards actually getting sailing, is to make your first boat one of the kitset Thunder Tiger Victoria’s put out by a Taiwan company (below). They are very popular in the USA where they are raced and you can check themout on the American Model Yachting Association website. Some people may consider them `cheap and nasty’ because they are plastic hulled, but put some effort and originality into yours and at least it will get you sailing and not just thinking about it.. I have sailed a `Victoria’ and they can be made to go well enough and are quite a delight to sail.

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Take a `Victoria' and work some magic on it visually, give it a good name and look what one enterprising owner, Dave Klingman in the USA came up with.

Look out for my next visit `Where the winds blow’ – I will share with you photos of more model sailing boats and always a bit of humour, because I believe that it is important to laugh and not to take oneself too seriously. Until then…

`I must go down to the lonely pond
under the big wide sky,
I left my wet socks by the bench on a box
and I wonder if they are dry ?’

Mark Steele

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