Where the Winds Blow...

by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

Micro Magic’s for instant pleasure, the `lost at sea’ boats mystery, a tall ship Lady Love and… the
schooners keep coming…

There’s no doubt about it, the schooner enjoys great appeal as a sailing subject among modelers, an appeal that appears to be on a rapid growth curve as I advance-write this column in November 2007. ( “YES, YES,  I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG TO APPEAR?”)  Start reading again, you may have missed it - the key words are `advance-write’, got it?  Then have a look sometime at the comprehensive website of The Great Schooner Model Society and that might help one to understand why the  schooner is enjoying such popularity as a model subject. The photo at top left shows a few of their schooners heading out, with a skipjack at the rear, the photo at right shows a few schooners at Onepoto in Auckland at the second annual schooner day.

Andrew Charters of  Meggett, South Carolina is one of several schooner afficianados who has built and owns and sails several beautiful and very competitive schooner models, David Querin of the state of  Ohio admits that for the best part he lives in the State of `Confusion’ but completed his 60”  class sharpie schooner Adrianna late last year and here in Auckland, New Zealand in the antipodes, our `Ancient Mariners’ fleet has been added to with new schooners from both Richard Gross and John Stubbs, their boats duly launched with aplomb and refreshments to ensure their safe passages o’er our lakes and ponds. It was of course George Surgent of Maryland whom you could say started it all, when he created Bay Boy his 52” sharpie. Dave Querin at a regatta absolutely loved the boat, found the plans in an article in the Nautical Research Journal, Howard Chapelle’s lines were entered and the sharpie model yacht interest just took off.   The two classes sailed are boats up to 50” and boats up to 60”.

Above Dave Querin with his two new sharpies, above, right, Fred Abbe's new sharpie tows a buoy to shore. 

above, John Stubbs' new Baltimore Clipper Becky.

David Querin tells me that  some 15 to 18 sharpie schooners that he is aware of have now been built in various areas  of the US. You can add to those the building activity of the North Carolina Oyster sharpie schooners generated by Tom  and Dick Pratt a few of them seen on the water in the second photograph in the opening of this column. Yes indeed, without a shadow of a doubt there is something about a schooner that grabs hold of people’s imagination, drives them to build and sail them, leads some of us `getting there’ and full grown oldies almost to an obsession  with this type of boat.

I mentioned Kiwi, John Stubbs who built and still sails a tidy little oyster schooner here with the Ancient Mariners and has now completed a Baltimore Clipper. I had hoped to also show a couple of other BC schooners built within the Great Schooner Model Society but I never managed to get the photographs.,  Shown below anyway are a few shots of John’s such boat, Becky. I may do a fuller piece on the Baltimore Clippers in a future issue if I can muster the material and of course provided this column is still appearing, one can’t be dead certain of anything except taxes and death. Anyway, as the saying goes…that’s another story!

How close do you want to get to your yacht when sailing, in the case of the photograph above when racing offshore from a Fiji island? Michael Dennis got real close, almost waist high and keeps one eye on his Townson `Electron’ Yellow Bird, the other eye on the challenger behind him to his right. That close enough?

Moving on from schooners to the photos directly above, the first a circa 1380 Bremen Cog, a trading ship 40” model built by modeller Keith Murrow of Hull in England. The full sized boat was 70’ long and Keith has stained the sail with Creosote to create an aroma of tar and used moss for caulking the planks, because that is how they did things way back then. There’s always progress in our model yacht world, now perhaps we have `aroma effects!’ Onwards to a fine Brigantine photographed coming about at a minisail meeting held in Rheda-Wiedenbruck in Germany, the model believed to have been built by Peter Schuster, the stunning and very realistic photo taken by Joris Priem, this one used courtesy of The Hague Model Boat Club and seen on their website.

Then there is a shanty boat, the model built by someone somewhere in the United States. A slow boat to anywhere and everywhere I’d suspect and a very `different’ choice of model for windling on some quiet canal or river. You need super imagination to enjoy sailing this one…and be able to apply a bit of fantasy thought, and you need lots of time!  My Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines fantasy as `imagination especially when extravagant, a mental image, a daydream,’ among other things

`There are more planes in the ocean
than submarines in the sky’

(An old sailor)

We are all different of course and different things turn different people on. I knew a model sailor who took great delight in rigging his large schooner model beside the pond, the exercise taking in excess of an hour. My choice is to be able to transport my boat in the back of the little Honda Jazz, fully rigged, batteries installed with only a switch to be switched on and the retractable bowsprit to be brought forward  Then it is straight into the pond for the boat without any shagging around trying to rig while battling the breeze.  In  photographs immediately above, the boats are ready for the water and a good sail within a few minutes of arrival. The smaller the boat the more you can carry and final photograph above shows two Micro Magic boats in the car with plenty of room left for Granny or the family dog.

For those with an absolute itch to buy a boat and get into racing, what’s more, not even having to build the darn thing, I am told that the Micro Magic produced by the German crowd Graupner can now be obtain ready to race. These 21” boats perform well and are pretty to look at and they have a growing following particularly in European countries where races are enjoying good numbers. The boat was originally designed by Thomas Dreyer and was introduced  about ten years ago and it seems that interest in the class is rapidly growing in Britain, and the boats are available in a wide range of colours. The absolute purist of model yacht builders among us won’t go for them but the racing minded will. I guess that  it therefore becomes a question of  “do you want to be pure or do you want to go racing on the weekend?”

Chris Gierszewski lives in Stockbridge in Georgia, USA and his tall ship Lady Love (seen above) is four feet long and three feet tall and took about a year to build. Her square sails move around the masts, the jib moves around the fwd stays and her spanker and mizzen sheets move out. Two cannons shoot out powdered smoke and the model is fitted with a strong electric motor in order to sail against the wind, and in order to bring her back. She has won four east coast state regattas in the US that she was entered in.

Many months ago I included in one of my articles, news of what I thought was a `refreshing’ little exercise whereby eight little 15” freesail model yachts made by Tippecanoe were set free at sea from a yacht, in a new slant of  `message in a bottle.  Each boat carried a message that asked anyone who found them should they have drifted inwards on some foreign shore. Were they eventually chewed by sharks, were they swamped by waves, seized by pirates or fishermen to give to their children, or dare I say it `was it all a bit of a mid year belated April Fool hoax  or did I simply dream it all up?  ” Well, I was not kept up to date and indeed for whatever reasons, my electronic communication from Tippecanoe’s Will Lesh simply just ceased so I guess you, like the writer will never know. Since I have been asked by four or five readers `what eventually resulted’ I felt I should make comment  The matter is now closed. Let's just say they were never seen again.

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