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by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

The story was fuelled by John Welsford the well known New Zealand designer of small boats who sent details to Duckworks Publisher, Chuck Leinweber who because of the model sailing boat content passed it onto me.

Some detective work followed over several days before I found Frank and Gwynne Tilly on the Kapiti coast of New Zealand’s North Island who had bought and owned the very first Welsford `Navigator’ 4.5m daysailer  and had spent many many happy years sailing Ddraigg  off the coast of Wellington. When the time came and they had to sell the boat, Frank had turned to ship modeling and had built an RC model of their beloved Ddraigg  which leads me into his model ship activities, and one or two other boats that he went on to create.

Frank with the RC model Navigator - date & venue not remembered.

The Sculler

Sailing Ddraigg off the coast of Wellington

Frank’s model Thames Sailing barge Kathleen

Frank also built several other models which he sails with the Greater Wellington Model Boat club who specialize in scale models, including a really lovely English Thames Sailing Barge Kathleen  and a unique model of a man standing in a dinghy who sculls himself along realistically.  The club sails at appointed times in the pond at Southwood Museum out at Paraparaumu,  You can’t take the love of boats, large or small away from those with the sea ingrained in their blood.

The Navigator style Ddraigg  at a sailing day.

(right) Frank’s Kathleen under sail.

The little cutter embraces the wind

I include this item of a boat that is no more, one that was built up and sailed by friend Phillip Artweger in Klatovy in the Czech Republic some years back in earlier years of his ship modeling.

It was I suppose you would say, a `kit cutter’ and after he had built it and improved things here and there, he produced these lovely photos, after which only to scrap the boat because it leaked badly. So much for La Belle Margot!

Readying the boat for a sail

La Belle Margot
sets sail

Mike Taylor (at left facing) and Tony Lench  at the Southgate pond barge sail.

Seventeen years ago in 1994 while on a visit to England I came down one Saturday from Bournemouth by train to spend what would be left of the weekend in London on pre-arrangement with a gentleman called Mike Taylor. It was to be a sort of Thames Sailing barge weekend with opportunity for me to see real surviving barges as well as attend a put-together period of model barge sailing by members of the Scale Sail Association on a small pond at Southgate eleven miles from Central London.

After a visit to St Catherine’s Docks on the Saturday where we went aboard the Felix and had a look-around both topside and down below, and after Mike and I nattered away in a quaint old pub over an ale and a warm pie it was off to `wherever’ pond which I remember had a little island in the middle.

There I met the delightful Tony Lench who had brought his spritsail barge Kate along and I spent an enjoyable few hours watching nine or ten model sailing barges being leisurely sailed. It was a cold day that followed a cold Saturday night spent at Mike and his wife’s home, the bed surrounded by model barges and other ship model remnants. I also had arrived in London with a shocking cold which added to my discomfort, further fuelled by cigarette smoke from the chain-smoking Taylor.

Tony Lench 2011 sailing

His staysail barge Elizabeth

Elizabeth…coming and going!

After Mike dropped me back to Waterloo Station I was never to again see either either him or Tony though we kept in touch and both subscribed to my Windling World model sailing magazine, Tony right through until the closure and then we lost touch.

I learned in May this year that both Mike Taylor and Tony Lench had passed away, the former about four years ago, the latter within the last few months.

Tony Lench of Kent with one of his Thames Sailing barges.

Kate in catch-up mode

We meet people, we become good friends with some through a mutual interest and then we leave the world when our time is up. That is `life’ with death the method that ends it, in the process severing friendship with friends. This item recalls two friends of mine met on two successive days, and I am all the richer for the experience of having spent albeit brief time in their delightful company.

I have always felt that `windling’ ranks with one of the very few simple pleasures left in life, that activity of placing a model sailing boat on the water and controlling it’s course and movements as dictated by the choice of the wind.  Oscar Wilde might just agree with my saying so were he still around.

Andrew Charters gets up close and personal

Andrew Charters, best known for his building and sailing magnificent models of schooners was out on the water off South Carolina with his camera and able to get these pictures of yachtsman Brad Van Liew in his Open 60 La Pingouin leaving South Carolina in the 2010/2011 Velux 5 Oceans Race, the oldest single handed yacht race in the world.

“Next stop La Rochelle and victory!”

He was ten miles offshore and in the first photograph arriving from Uraguay, in the third photograph departing  for La Rochelleand the finish.

`In every pastime we partake in, every game, every hobby, there is room for humour and camaraderie, victors time for vanquished, and exemplary sportsmanship’ (Mark Steele)



Preussen detail added

…and a bit more here

The work of a Master Shipmodeller

Andreas Gondesen is widely recognized as one of the leading master craftsmen in the world when it comes to model square rigged sailing ships.  He has built absolutely stunning models of the Pamir, Constitution and Zeven Provincien and his latest project, a model of the Preussen is well underway and Andreas estimates another two years to completion. The photos by the builder above show aspects of the model so far completed.

The Preussen  was a five-masted steel-hulled windjammer 132m in hull length built in 1902 in Germany that was in her short life to become a veteran of 13 round trips to Chile. In 1910 After a collision with a cross-channel steamer, she was wrecked off Britain’s white cliffs of Dover.

The Preussen after the collision

The photos (Source: The State Library of Victoria) now out of copyright) above shows the vessel surrounded by tugs who were however unable to move her, and the wreck on occasions of very low tides is often visible from the Dover cliffs.

The wreck of the Preussen  before she sank

Hien Ngo is a native of Viet Nam and a naturalized citizen of the United States. One who has sailed and surfed and done windsurfing clearly he has a love of the sea and his intention is to build a boat of his own one day. To this end, Hien has been making a few sailing models though has not yet tackled the installation of radio control.

Hien’s selection of hulls

(right) Hien Ngo with his first boat.

The hull now decorated.

He is near retirement and lives in Huntington Beach, California and this boat called the The Leaf of Reed is 21” long and has a 9” beam. It is basic, the hull made of plywood, the  curvatures done out of cardboard, and the sail is a painted rice bag. It is Hien’s first step towards building a boat that he can sail in and this model is controlled by a long cord.

He tells me that the colour of brown is the colour of an old leaf and the colour green means `young people’. Extending that (and I think I kind of understand the philosophy) `the old carries the young and the old man or woman provides support for the young ones of the family!’

I am glad that Hien is going to put RC sail control into the boat as a next step, for in the nice video he sent me, without it and with the constant slamming into the wall the bow of the model will not for long retain it’s neat curvature.  Hey, you have to start somewhere and simple experimentation is often the mother of invention – and the start of big adventures!  Well done Hien.


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