by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

Six fine schooners, piratical Footy rambustifications,  an intriguing Scandinavian Barquentine  and time spent zailing and zizzing!!

 WTWB/March 2010

In the USA, the schooner appears to still maintain the acclaim of` most popular choice of model’ with a continuous following of model sailboaters in many States electing to build one type of schooner model or another.

   Alan a few years back with model of Brilliant

Alan Suydam, thirty years an engineer and long retired from the Ford Motor Company, about fifteen years ago drifted back into ship modeling and is a particular fan of classic schooners – well really he just loves building and sailing model boats, albeit however I suspect he is one with a strong love of schooners True he has built some twelve or fifteen other RC model sailboats, his schooner models such as the famous Brilliant, the Nina (a Starling Burgess design staysail schooner) and Gloucesterman – a Fenwick Williams design are three built and sailed by Alan who belongs to the US Vintage Model Yacht Group, The Great Schooner Model Society and Solomons Island Model Boat Club in Southern Maryland.

Schooner Vallmore

Purple sailed sharpie

Fenwick Williams designed Gloucesterman

Alan with Valmore II

Staysail schooner Nina

Within the last four years and since we last communicated, a further three schooners have come off the Suydam home slipyard, plus one new vintage Marblehead, three new vintage 36 Class boats and four new RG65 class models, and he has restored an A Class boat for a client. The three new schooners are shown in the last three photos immediately above and as a group of six represent a `bakers dozen’ fine and good performing model schooners made and owned by one man.

Thanks to you Alan for data and photos but what with your model shipbuilding courses you periodically conduct at Wooden Boat, and your model boat building, plus time taken to enjoy sailing, how do you juggle time for the family, just wondering?

Cap'n Jack (Trewin) Sparrow with sub Footy

 You won't escape, I'll get ya

ARRGH - We're in charge

The Orca will getcha

Tow it to the island

At Clevedon and District Model Boat club in Somerset, as vibrant and enthusiastic a band of model yacht addicted folk that you’ll find anywhere, a fine fun day of Footy `pirating’ is recalled. “When?” (When  it `appened lad! When it `appened  one fine day back in 2009)

It was the Clevedon Footy Pirate Festival  that day when it `appened. a day of Footy fun  with captures, ransoms and payments in chocolate doubloons, skull and crossbones on sails and shirts, (the sails is whats on the ships lads!) pirate garb and  eye-patches and pirate talk to booty laden boats with words of endearment like “Come on in me darlin’, you buxom beauty!”

It all took place on the Marine lake on the Clevedon seafront where a lush tropical island (that just sprung up overnight  – aint nature wonderful!) was the place of capture while an Orca menaced the Footy boats.  It is to 'appen agin in 2010 …when it 'appens lads, when it 'appens agin!

Sailing model yachts, indeed sailboats of any kind in my books has got to be fun, with relaxation and enjoyment (and laughter, don’t forget that one!)  the major gains.  Photographs off the Clevedon and District MBC’s fine website are shown above and Andy Trewin is the club’s Footy contact, for that particular day also the event organizer, as well as  being Captain Jack Sparrow-ish (Footy Submarine Commander) and Clevedon Footy Pie-Rat whom they captured, chained up and  held on the island.  (T’is said that nobody would pay the ranson)…. “Aarr! Feed `im to the Orca!” two sizzled pirates on Christmas Island are reported to have shouted!


left, A Nigel Heron design Footy

In the July issue of  Marine Modelling International published by Traplet there was another very good report by my friend, Chris Jackson on  the Footy scene and various offerings of new Footy models. One very stylish and very modern looking boat was the one I have shown above, the Lajabless design by Nigel Paul Heron in Canada. Very nice isn’t it

Still on Footy matters, here in New Zealand, the Ancient Mariners annual Footy classic for the impressive brass cannon trophy made by Tom Simpson has been abandoned (as a Footy award) after eight years, the trophy to continue to carry all the engraved winners plates for posterity sake, but to be re-designated to another class (or encompass AM boats in general sailed within the groups activities. While the Footy boats following grows in stature elsewhere in the world, in Auckland where it had a keen following in the Beyond to the pond event in the early Footy years, very small fleets in more recent years have brought about this development.

Glassy water sailig

On the move 

`Onker' model owner, Ken Horton

Above are two fine photographs by square-rigger builder, Nev Wade of Bristol in the UK of his friend Ken Horton’s rather impressive looking `Onker’ Barquentine, a traditional Scandinavian vessel complete with onboard windmill which drives the bilge pump. Ken (seen above in the third photograph) is eighty years old.

These boats were from the period (1871 to late 1800’s)  though one of them, the Southern Belle shown in Wade’s feature story in Marine Modelling International was sailing up to early 1920’s when she was broken up. Ken who according to his friend has a fertile imagination over time has built a variety of models including submarines and the extent of detail on board this barquentine is quite amazing. Plaudits to him for his Vickensund.  If you’d like to see more on the model, hunt down or order from Traplet a back issue copy of Marine Modelling International July 2009 issue.

A writer’s memory recall! I never heard the sub-mariner call “SURFACE! SURFACE!” only saw my Fun Fellow, Island Spice rise upwards into the air about a foot out of the water. A `Shag’ had risen beneath the boat and that my friends is a true story, in windling parlance known as `shagging!’. (If the word offends, you could call it `cormorant-ing!’

An old image of  Ngataki

I don’t think that will be more than a few (possibly) overseas readers who will have heard of this rather amazing 35’ cutter built in Auckland, New Zealand around 1934, the year that I was born.

Ngataki (a Maori word meaning `abode of the elite’ and pronounced `nar-tark-ey’ was built by Johnny Wray on his father’s front lawn and then written about by Wray in his wonderfully entertaining book South Sea Vagabonds. Long out of print, I managed to get a loan of a bit of a tattered copy some years back, raced through it downwind like and enjoyed it immensely.

Wray had the help of friends in building the boat and began the project when he was sacked from his job and had a meager eight pounds, ten shillings to his name.

Having chosen that name, Wray was to discover on his journeys in Australian waters, as well as those thrill a minute voyages he made aboard his cutter to many islands in the Pacific that people unused to the Maori language found it hard to pronounce, Gartake, Nagartiki, Nag-um-um you know what I mean  were frequent utterances as kiwi, Paul Titchener recalled in one of his books.

Apparently, though a good sailor and one whose exploits at sea and his determination to build the boat in the first place, and obviously his aptitude at writing a good tale,  Johnny Wray died in the mid-1980’s I believe, and the boat was sold to a lady who continued to use it for bluewater cruising and  is said to have sailed it round  the world. See if your library has a copy of the book, you might enjoy it. Or check  with Amazon who had 15 copies of various editions late last year. It is good Kiwi classic stuff, a rattling good tale.  South Sea Vagabonds, rated in New Zealand yachting circles as being among the very best of its kind. I wish I had the copy shown that was loaned to me  some years back – it was in good condition too.

Some time within the last seven months, with a healthy forward supply of columns completed, I took a few weeks break from both  writing and driving and slipped away in seclusion to the Codswallops, my newly discovered secret place of mind escape and brain relaxation, (not to  even vaguely imply that these days I am blessed with more than a tad of the latter mind you!)

The Codswallops lie East of West or for those who are fussy and prefer the alternative, North of South, better still, `West of nowhere’ which is easier to remember!. That’s all I am prepared to divulge lest the peaceful place, the owners private sanctuary ever become overrun with all manner of folk, the good the bad, the ugly.

Feet off the beat

Readers Choice

The lake of windling

A rose in the Codswallops

The Sloper Brown Mama

I just don’t want to see tourists trampling the ever freshly codswalloped fields in their Gucci `boes’ (a boot type shoe made for them in Genoa, Italy),  their Nippon and Chinese made digital cameras strung around their necks and photographing the oversized, slimy eeleefunts found  here, and eying them for potential export. This is a place where cows moo and drop `wallops’ to their hearts content, where distant bulls sometime fart at night as loud as thunder and where a handful of morepork  and an oversized, rare almost soprano-sounding bird combine to sing up a storm on a wooded rise on some still mornings at dawn!

I remember reading  somewhere that 'creativity' is the driving force behind virtually everything that we do, and lets face it, codswallop is just that… creativity of the animal and oft human kind. It’s a bloody good place, the `Cods’,  for `R and R’, for occasional windling of the host’s `slooper’ - the one point five metre RC sailboat Brown Mama on the lovely small and shallow lake halfway up a gentle rising hill.

It is a conducive place for a writer, and for gathering `funning’ ideas to be later created into `porkies’ of questionable truth. Great also for zizzing off exactly when one feels like it on the shaded porch in either a `planters’ chair or one of three hammocks, or delving into a wonderful selection of yachting books in a small library. (Frank my host, sadly in the early stages of a terminal illnessis an avid `boatie, whenever he can find the time to skive off for the very long drive to Picton where he keeps Heart Song -a 32’ Spencer moored in the bay).  

Nearly forgot, there’s that enchanting handkerchief-sized  winery with its genial hosts,  friends of Frank, Pearla and `Boong’ with chilled wine `Shake Shotsz’  made with a dash of…… now that is `hush stuff’,  and specially designed `zizz stools’ situated deeper in the waps up a narrow non-signposted dirt road just under eleven kilometres West Northeast of….. (Hell! I NEARLY BLEW IT THEN!  almost gave that away!) You can keep the Cotswolds, the Swiss Alps and the Sounds, the Codswallops are for me!  

No! No!, I can’t recommend it – You wouldn’t  like it, It’s a tewwible place, farting bulls, noisy owls and cowshit everywhere!”


R Tucker Thomson

HMS Killingworth

Often beautiful model yachts are featured in my columns as I try to show readers the kind of results that can brought to reality with effort, time and patience, obviously plus a percentage of skill. Then time passes, sometimes years and I have to wonder `whatever happened to that model built by whoever.  Did he get tired of it and sell it, have an accident with it (like dropping it!)  give it to someone else who put in an antique shop in the High Street where it was sold to an Arab in Dubai or do they have it on permanent loan in some working or otherwise static museum?  (Horrors! Was it dumped in a local rubbish tip?)

Well, (for instance) whatever happened to Rex Cottrell’s huge RC sailing model seen with him in my photograph (the top one on the left) taken years back? The boat is a model of the New Zealand `small tallship’ schooner R Tucker Thomson. Well I have found out and the model prior to the owners untimely death through illness was placed in a working (mostly) museum just outside of Auckland, New Zealand on display (and only once every five blue moons is sailed when there is sufficient water in the man-made pond.  Mostly it sits in the indoors and out of the water section of the boatshed  gathering dust.  That’s one mystery solved, one down and one to go!

In the second photograph above is Bryan Clark of the United Kingdom’s HMS Killingworth. Alas I have to say I don’t know whether the model is still operational. Bryan went to Thailand for a period after I ran the story on the boat in Windling World, and alas efforts to regain contact with him several years later have been unsuccessful. I have to assume that both man and model still exist for the model is a most impressive RC working model that I once wrote about and Bryan a delightful fellow.

"The wind is an inheritance of those who sail model yachts. Bestowed by nature it is there to be enjoyed but treated with respect, for it can rise and wreak havoc as quickly as it can bring sheer sailing delight."

Mark Steele


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