Where the Winds Blow...  

by Mark Steele - Auckland, New Zealand

An Australian sea Horse?
No, but Richard’s Sea Cloud creates
a new benchmark in working model ship construction.

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Completed in February this year and officially launched on 25th April in Queensland, Australia (the very date that the original boat was launched seventy-five years before in Kiel, Germany), Richard Mayes realized a 43 year old dream of building a fully working model square rigger. His model of the Sea Cloud sets high standards in model ship-building and took a lot longer than he had anticipated, almost eleven years of construction. The original vessel which was launched as the Hussar V way back in 1931 for owners, Edward Hutton, a successful New York stockbroker and his wife, heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, was at that time at 360’ in length the largest private sailing yacht in the world. Purchased in 1978 by a German shipowner group, she was later converted into the cruise ship she still sails as today

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"Sea Cloud" under sail

In 1995, Richard who lives in Maroochydore, had obtained plans, photos, technical data sheets and cruise material from the owners of Sea Cloud, material that was to prove invaluable, and there began his lengthy task. Without going into the technical side, I propose to let several fine photographs show the results of his labour of love, including the lighting of the ship made a reality with his having fitted 98 small lights all over the ship and within. Enlarge them by clicking on each and you will be amazed at the wealth of intricate detail aboard.

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Five winches control all the sails and spars, a standard servo controls the spanker/topsail, two winches control all 11 jibs/staysails so they can tack over, there is one winch to control the mizzen mast spars, another to control the foremast spars. The detail is amazing, with chairs, tables, upper deck longe seats all made from plastic card, lifeboats carved out of balsa, the covers made from his wife’s stockings painted with PVA glue to keep their shape then painted blue. Take note of this – on the forward bulkhead of the aft cabin is a notice board with a photo of the ship and a map of the Aegean Sea, the wheelhouse fitted out with full detail and all looking great when the lights are on. The model is fitted with a mechanical drop keel which when lowered activates the two radars.

This incredible model of the Sea Cloud has earned Richard, the `Model of the Decade’ Award from Windling World, the writer’s magazine which has now ended production after an eleven year run.

We have to stop meeting like this! People are starting to talk.

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That must have been one hell of a party last night! A young Mark in the Fiji Islands after a cyclone that took a yacht ashore into what was the island resort's dining room.

In the minds and hearts of a great many, the J Class yachts of the 1929-1937 period still represent the absolute pinnacle of classic yacht design. Whereas the America’s Cup carries more hype and gets greater followings today, many would question a statement that todays boats have anywhere near the awe and sheer power or the appeal of the big J class boats of that earlier period. That is perhaps quite surprising in that many of us were of too young an age to have actually seen any of the ten boats that were built and raced in the period, and only able to catch them on film and read about them in magazines and books.

Thanks however to the trail of magic they created and left behind, and the efforts of people like Elizabeth Meyer whose love of these boats, and her ability to plough vast sums of money and an abundance of enthusiasm into rebuilding Endeavour, played a huge part in their appeal today.

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John Hanks Ranger


Some of us if we are in the right place at the right time can catch a glimpse of Endeavour or maybe Velsheda .. That leaves us with sailing models of the J Class boats, and those who build and sail them, people like John Hanks III of Arizona, USA whose model of the J Ranger which he built some twenty years ago still proves a delight to those who see it sailed. John also built an Endeavour which Jack David also of Arizona fell in love with and had John sell it to him.

Peter Bauhofer of Austria, and way up in the mountains, built an Endeavour also though I haven’t yet seen the model fitted with sails, doubtless that will eventuate one day. The real J’s (and there were 13 fullsize boats built in the USA and Great Britain and in addition, 3 other existing yachts were converted to meet J boat rules. They were 120 to 135 feet long, the models equally impressive at 1/16th scale resulting length overall of 7.5 ft 8.5 ft. With weights between 65 and 90 lbs and sail areas of between 3,500 t0 4,200 sq inches they are most impressive under sail

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Endeavour/Peter Bauhofer

Shamrock/Bob Egar

A registered class in the American Model Yachting Association whose Class Secretary is John Hanks III, hull drawings for all J boats, and some deck drawings are available in the proper scale from Rene Serrau, email Serrao@hfx.eastlink.ca

Blossom of Bequia many will find `refreshingly different’. A trading sloop modelled on those in the Grenadine islands of the West Indies, she was `gifted’ to me by her builder, the late Warren Hastings, then almost `gifted’ by me to the bottom of our sailing pond at Onepoto in Auckland when she sprang a leak. When my wife and I moved house last year, I gifted her (deck cargo, boat dog Woofter and cobwebs included!) to fellow Auckland Ancient Mariner, Bob Walters who has now brought her back into service, no doubt deeply convinced of my story that she had been regularly bringing Ghobadi Bhaba bananas into Auckland where they were making me a small fortune! With new (oldie looking) sails run up by Bob’s wife Pam, Blossom has a new lease on life, and look at the quality foodstuff on board that she brought in recently! I told you that a good imagination is useful in model yachting! Now didn’t I?

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Finally, well almost! If starting a new boat appeals to you, and if like me you have five thumbs, you wont want to tackle a project like a J boat. That being the case, how about a Footy? Brett McCormack in Dunedin, New Zealand can steer you right with a set of simple plans or a ready-built glassed hull like the one in the photograph, and his website can get you started.

Use your search engine for Brett McCormack's Footys (or Highlander Yachts)

I didn’t have the room to show and tell you about Hans Staal’s new Garnelenschuit boat, or his intriguing crew figures. or show you how he gets those wonderful photos, but that will be in next month’s column. May I take this opportunity to wish everyone whose interest or curiosity may bring them to this website, a very happy festive season and a new year of good health and much peace and happiness, some of it perhaps generated by the magic of model sailing boats. To Chuck and Sandra of Duckworks the same applies, and I hope that I have been able to make my monthly ramblings on model sailing boats sufficiently interesting for your many readers. Thank you for the confidence shown in providing space for Where the Winds Blow.

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Magic moments
of model yachting

“Oh Sweet Winter Windle, upon a pond of dreams
friendly race at walkers pace, that’s the way it seems,
a lovely placid blue-sky day, an outing for big boys!
onlookers strolling, looking, at twelve sailors with their toys.”

Photo and verse / M.Steele

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Articles by Mark Steele: