by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

Nev Wade’s Square rigged ships, Model Boat Man
Alan Woodroffe, two beautiful yawl’s and
other bits and bobs of model sailing news!

 WTWB/July 2010

In a land of fantasy turned into reality where imagination was capable of transformation, and where enthusiasm and passion resulted in the creation of model grain carriers, there would be a long, low shed on the banks of a stream in Sheffield, England with direct access to a lengthy river that in turn led out to sea, and a sign on the building that read… THE WADE MODEL SQUARE RIGGER SHIPBUILDING COMPANY!

Added to his undoubtable skill in producing wonderful sailing models of square-rigged tall ships of which he has now built five, I am convinced that like the writer there is in Neville Wade a spirit of great  imagination  that rides aboard at the helm of whichever ship he happens to be sailing, that transforms his square-rigger sailings into `voyages’ of the big grain carriers he has read about, researched and created in model format.

Unlike the seriously competitive model sailors who generally have no time for trivial thoughts while competing, indeed would probably scoff at the whole aspect of `imagination’ when bantered about full grown men the cruising or `windling’ model sailor, some of us anyway, actually enjoy our sailings of scale or standoff scale model sailing ships  by entertaining imaginative thoughts during those periods in relaxing mode all the better.

Marcel Proust, the French novelist on the subject of imagination put it well when he wrote: ‘To strip our pleasures of imagination is to reduce them to their own dimensions, that is to say, to nothing!’ Think about that for a moment or two. When we get older in life there is no reason in the world for us to shed every single aspect of our childhood imaginations, for it is then that we have the time to indulge ourselves in the application of the magic of believing to our interests. Viva the return of our second childhood!

Neville Wade, Square rigged model ship builder
Holding the Elizabeth Ann

Elizabeth Anne
Based on the Hooghly River Pilot Brig (Fame) of 1895

Judith Kate
Based on the Herzogin Cecilie

Scale model sailors, be not afraid to host your imagination when sailing: You can be anywhere out on the briny, enjoy blue water sailing, ply the coast of Caribbean islands, round Cape Horn, cross the Tasman Sea, be in any port in the world,  if you  permit re-entry into your mind of even just a teeny fragment of the childhood you thought you had lost.

Ann Louise
Based on the Joseph Conrad

Catherine Louise
Based on the Mozart

Ann B putting to sea!
Based on the PENANG

So, here’s to  fellow `imagineer’ Neville Wade in Britain who writes for Marine Modellig International. May his endeavours that led to the creation of his square-rigged model ships currently sailing his ponds of life have many many more years. I can’t get over how rapid the interest in building scale model square-riggers that once fitted with RC are actually sailed has been. Twenty years ago, maybe less such models were hard to find and were confined to mainly static masterpieces kept behind glass rather than put to possible damage risk of wind and water and used for relaxation. Go to Nev Wade’s own website and I think you will be as impressed and as equally amazed as I am.
will get you into the magical world of model square-riggers.

Alan Woodroffe with Blue Moon,
an `Arabesque' design A Class boat by Bob Underwood

Argus schooners lakeside  owned by Alan and wife

The two schooners Lady Sylvia and Lady Ann on the water

Alan Woodroffe is a model yacht sailing enthusiast at Southwater in Sessex, Britain, and is one of the keenest and most active model sailboat owners and sailors you are likely to find anywhere. A man of extreme enthusiasm and generosity, he owns about fifty of the model yachts seen sailing there, a great many of his boats made available to fellow members of the popular Southwater Dabblers Model Boat Club who sail there.

A ketch, Lancer

A schooner fleet of the water at Southwater

Alan's Thames Sailing Barge
James Piper

Alan makes boats available on a long term semi-permanent basis, the people who sail them to be responsible for taking care of the boats and maintaining them.  His personal choice of boat type varies from schooners through Fiesta’s, 6 Metres, a Thames Barge, and indeed this arrangement of his puts boats on the water and makes the club one of the most popular to be found anywhere in Britain.

Blog Cruising on the web (that’s Oskar the cyber space mouse talking!), I found an interesting column by a fellow grandfather who writes as `Tillerman’,  sails a Laser and introduces his column called Proper Course ,with the line `Cheat the nursing home, die on your laser ’ on it’s masthead.  An interesting proposition that and one that could be the greatest of weapons that man could apply to delay if not defeat Alzeimer, `the thief of sanity’  that oft comes with advancing years. Get engrossed in a hobby and practice it with absorbing passion.

It’s a regular, interesting, factual, often humorous sort of blog.  I tried to make contact with the author alas without success. (He doesn’t answer emails, either that or he’s always busy `lasering!’).  Suffice to say I think you’d enjoy it, in fact I’m almost sure you would.  Punch in on your search engine – it is that easy. (If you beat old `Al’ I think you might owe the  `Tillerman’ a beer)  just for the idea.

This magnificent model of the Olin Stephens designed yawl Dorade captured in the photograph (above) by Hans Staal was made by Helmut and Gisela Scharbaum of Germany, the shot taken at a Minisail event  held in Europe.  Dorade was designed in 1929 and won the Transat race from Newport, Rhode Island to Plymouth, Britain in 17 days, 1 hour, 14 minutes in 1931, and the Fastnet race later that year. A year later she won the Newport to Bermuda race and in 1933 again won the Fastnet.

Helmut and Gisela are renowned for beautifully made RC sailing models and I have shown models by them in the past. They are dedicated fans of William Fife designed boats and regularly attend events held in Europe by Minisail.

(The real yawl Marybeth)

Sailing by the Golden Gate Bridge
All photos courtesy of Robert Fisher

In 1927 a lovely 40’ yawl designed by a Sausalito Naval Architect, George Wayland was launched as Marybeth att United Ship Repairs in California. Her owner was F.W Varney. Between 1931 and 1965 the yawl won the Division 11 Championship a great many time under different owners. In 1954 Wm R Fisher became her owner and he kept the boat until 1945.  The boat is now in Fort Bragg, on the north coast of California

Robert Fisher contacted me not too long ago and made available photos not only of the real yawl Marybeth, but of the lovely RC model he built of her.

Robert Fisher carrying his beloved model to the water

Model under sail

Marybeth separates the schooner fleet

While out yawling!

To the writer’s eyes the model of Marybeth is a lovely looker and in one of the photographs shown is seen sailing with the South California Schooner fleet.  The dimension of the model is 50” on deck planked in cedar on 1/16th inch plywood frames.

More info on Marybeth at:

The schooner fan that I am, I got to pondering just how small (length on deck) anyone could build a tiny model schooner, fit micro RC gear and sail it… just how tiny a schooner could it be?  And the challenge is now on (with an additional class for a freesail model as well) and almost five months in which to create what would be the smallest RC model schooner on this planet of ours. Entries will close on 15th November with an entry form which I will email to you if you email me requesting it to

Build the boat, send me 3 photos by email, the name of your schooner, its length on deck expressed in both cms and inches), whether its RC or freesail and that’s all. I know of three boats on the build already, another one nearly completed and yet another schooner proven and up and sailing.

Orakei Basin, Auckland 1937

On 16th March 1937, yes 1937 at Orakei Basin in Auckland, New Zealand, these yachts seen above may seemingly have been in difficulties, might well have handled the conditions evident with shorter rigs and less sail. The area was, I have learned, a very popular model yacht venue, the black and white photograph unearthed by Malcolm Scott of the Christchurch Model Yacht Club.


Roger Cote working on one of his models

USS Constitution

Skipjack, Edith F Todd

Roger Cote of  Fort Worth, Texas is an interesting man, one who over a quarter of a century has produced a quantity of excellent looking, mainly display wooden ship models that have earned him a following. Have a look at his website if you’ve got a moment – I think you might be impressed at the depth of detail in every model painstakingly produced, sometimes over two years.

He started building them in the 1940’s but now despite continuation of his lifetime interest he has to cease for lack of space and the tightening money belt for material costs money means he must sell the models. It is a sad story – take away a man’s interest and what is he left with ?. Send Roger an email and haggle a bit if you are up to it, you could end up with a great model for the mantelpiece or wall of your home.

KPMYC windlers

Let the Solings wait

Bob Seiden can be credited with having introduced my `windling’ model sailing concept to America in the United States I’d say, the Kings Point Model Yacht Club in Florida of which he is Commodore and `Chief driving force among the snowbird sailing members having adopted it several months.  What is windling ? Well it can be anything you want in the line of non-competitive or even vaguely race oriented. Sail around the lake over an agreed course as a fleet while you enjoy your `cruise’ and if you miss a buoy so what – look upwards, the sky is still there and nobody has stolen your trusers so what’s the big deal! There is no prize, and chat with your fellow skippers as you all  walk together and follow the boats, or set a tight course (or no course at all and `sit and sail’ as the KPMYC group is seen doing, even take a break with the Solings parked in the shallows as the other picture shows. 

And how about a spot of refreshment, during or if you prefer, after it  is all over.  There is no magic, no fixed set of rules, just enjoy yourself remembering that it is friendship, feeling good about yourself and your mates that matters, and is an attitude.

I’m afraid, I have to tell you that the horizon (for this column) is somewhat hazy at the moment. – Putting together a column each month requires the constant need for material. After three years of one each month the material cupboard  is now looking a bit sparse and my enthusiasm for searching for story items has waned. Add to that my constant uncertainty as to whether many really enjoy it.

Those  who do, probably need a break from my ramblings anyway. I am trying to keep it going for a wee bit more, but thought I should give advance notice to any who just might look forward to each column.  Hey, nothing lasts forever, not even life I’m reliably informed!

Let us end this one with a laugh since many among us have forgotten how to laugh. Even  Larry and Ernesto don’t appear to laugh much these days, they are too engrossed in hurling of allegations and insults at each other and counting their big `spends’ on giant multihulls while together (in my opinion) they successfully stuff up  the concept of the America's Cup. Retained lawyers, advisors and boatbuilders must be laughing though... all the way out from a continuous jungle of court rooms and hearings to their respective banks! Anyway, maybe the event will return to being a sane and reasonable event now that the multi-hull fiasco is over.

Now we don't have such problems
in the windling side of model yachting!


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