by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

The famous little oyster boat Boadicea, a bit of a
gusty Auckland schooner day, an English model
builder/restorer, Murray White’s models of the 6m
Scout and a sailboat journey to Tippecanoe!


Richard Hughes with completed model of Amerigo Vespucci

Richard Hughes is an Englishman who has been ship modeling since 1990 and who has become noted for his wonderful mainly display museum-quality models such as the Italian Navy’s Amerigo Vespucci sailing ship used for training purposes seen above and again below, and  Scott’s ship RMS Discovery among others scratchbuilt. They are highly detailed and built to a length of 180cms or just under 6’. Some of his models commissioned, others snapped up by purchasers. Richard also restores old pond boats and modern sailing yacht models for people  including A Class yachts, has also built a 30” model of the impressive Spanish sailing ship  Juan Sebastian de Elcano (below) and his website shows a varied array of work carried out over the years.

This is purely a hobby for Richard who is a Business Adviser with Business Link Northwest and he lives in Southport, Merseyside in the Northwest of England.

Juan Sebastian de Elcano

Builder with model of RMS Discovery

The model of HMS Discovery

Bow detail RMS Discovery

Fiddly work aboard Amergo Vespucci

The annual `Ancient Mariners’ gathering of schooners took place at Onepoto lake in Auckland on Thursday 26th November last year with brisk, at times slightly excessive wind conditions and only a dozen schooners being put out on the water for a programme of events under control of Officer of the day, Murray White. 

Despite the lower than expected turnout of schooners, as well as the attrition rate, a few boats suffering due to the wind, a few hours of good racing resulted with Richard Gross the overall winner sailing his schooner Milano. Richard Plinston of  the New Zealand Radio Yacht Squadron captured a bit of the action with some excellent photographs shown here.

Schooner duel with overall winner
Richard Gross boat Milano extreme left.

Milano in the blow

The writer's Fijipsy Jack downwind

Murray White's Black Pearl with reduced rig in a hurry

Boadicea - A model full of charm and cheek

Bob Walters Boadicea in Auckland

A moment of absolute cheek!
Not racing just a group cruising

"Now go thrash the bigger boats girl!" Bob gets serious

I don’t even know where the little oyster smack shown in cheeky mood (above) is these days, perhaps with one of the two adult sons of the late Bob Walters which would be very fitting. To the very best of my knowledge it was or is, the  only one in New Zealand.  I need another boat like another mouth in my face but I still regret now and again as I think about the wee boat, that when Bob offered it to me I did not accept. `We must not look over our shoulder at regrets’ some wise man once said to which I would add, you’d end up with a painful stiff neck! I will always remember that Thursday morning gathering of the Ancient Mariners, a fleet of some seven or eight boats sailing into the wind, the tiny Maldon smack, Boadicea bringing up the rear. Suddenly the two larger boats came about and headed downwind for the lower region of the pond. Bob was quick to spot the move, turning the little smack, her mainsail extended outwards and picking up a strong breeze she was off like a scalded cat with the other boats in pursuit. Standing beside Bob with my camera poised, I was able to capture this photograph of a little model of a working sailboat storming back home ahead.

The fullsize Boadicea CK 213, 30’ LOA was built in 1808 and has been rebuilt several times over the years. She was built for dredging for oysters, has had several changes of ownership and to the best of my knowledge she is still owned by Englishman Michael Frost who bought the boat in 1938.  She is a famous little boat that is much revered and Bob Walters went aboard her in Maldon when on a visit to Britaiu taking photographs of the model he had made to show the owner.

Still going strong after several refits is the real boat in UK. Photograph courtesy of the owners.

I can also credit Bob for making the Boadicea model for he did so before the start of Footy mania, so you can say that it was an `advance guard’ to the movement and a bit of a spark from which the NZ Footy started. (I ought to know for I named that class of boat `Footy’.)

By the way, should you want to know the measurements of that little model of  the little oyster smack model, it is barely 16” long.

Auckland, Ancient Mariner Murray White for three years  in the nineteen fifties period owned, sailed and raced Scout the world’s oldest 6m racer built as a gaff cutter in the Northern port of Whangarei in New Zealand way back in 1909, the boat’s designer unknown.

Converted some years later to a Bermuda rig, one hundred years later in 2009 she was container-shipped to Newport, Rhode Island by her latest owner, Martin Farrand  to sail in the World Cup for the 6m class where as the oldest boat in a fleet of 24 she finished 20th.  Murray White journeyed to Rhode Island to act as part of the support crew and Farrand who remembered sailing aboard the boat as a young man competed aboard her in the US.

Murray White built RC Scout Auckland 2009

Scout on the pond

Scout (gaff-rigged) in very early days, (photographer unknown)


Murray with model

Murray has made three models of the boat, one of which, a Bermudan-rigged model that he built in 2009 being an RC sailing model frequently sailed  with the AM fleet at Onepoto in Auckland.  Another (display) model of the boat he presented to current owner Farrand to celebrate Scout’s 100th anniversary. One hundred years is a considerably long period for any yacht used fairly regularly as both a racing and cruising boat to survive and still be operational, most sailing people would agree.

Several wonderful photographs of the yacht in her early days are shown above and modern day photos of the latest model by Murray taken by Ancient Mariner, Richard Gross.

Will with one of his T Class models

Gimble, the sailboat he built (left)

Will Lesh, the founder of Tippecanoe (model) Boats in 1981 sailed out of Chesapeake  Bay in the USA aboard Gimble, a 24’ sailboat (in the photo above left) that he had built, and headed for the Azores which he reached after 21 days of sailing.

From  Faial a further 12 days took him to Gibralter after which he cruised the Mediterranean the following year. That you could say was how Tippecanoe Boats designed by this transatlantic sailor started.  One thing led to another!

A young Will Lesh with the model

With the boat now

Over the years Tippecanue has included a schooner RC kitset

We have been in touch for some years, Will and I, and for years I’ve wanted to show you a photograph of a little model yacht I discovered that he owns  Just perhaps it was a small  influencing factor in the spawning of his later interests. 

He grew up with one of the early Jacrim Seaworthy design Model yacht toys, later taken over by the Keystone Company, a manufacturer of a range of quality toys in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Around 1957/58  when 5 or 6 years old, Will is shown above sailing the same model in a lake.  Will’s model is probably from the 1929-1933 period. If you Google `Joacrim Mfg Co website’ you will find it interesting. Schooner fan that the writer is, he doesn’t  half fancy the Seaworthy, the 23” rare Seaworthy Schooner shown in that website that they produced in 1930.


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