Custom Search
Join Duckworks
Get free newsletter
Comment on articles
on this site
 Where the Winds Blow...
by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

Well  here I am opening up a page on the computer on 26th December 2011, just as I always do to set up a new file into which a new column will ultimately spring from in the weeks or months ahead. It is just to have somewhere in which to put the little I have for a column that layeth  half a year and one month ahead, having reminded  myself that with no columns in either May or June, this column is therefore for appearance end of July.

Aside from that I made a resolution last December, that there would be no more of my sitting on the knee of the man dressed in red’s in the shopping mall, having at 77 years of age finally decided that he is not `Santa’ but the local butcher from up the road whose breath reeks of garlic, besides it is always the same thing he asks me “Now have you been a good boy this
year ?” 

Line honours into Hobart winner Investec Loyal (formerly
designed by Greg Elliott
Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Every 26th December I have for years enjoyed following the Sydney to Hobart (Rolex sponsored) ocean classic on what I think is one of the best websites on a yacht race that I have encountered. Once again two maxis played cat and mouse as they pursued line honours glory, and this year it was  the 100’ Investec Loyal, the Greg Elliott designed ex Maxi, Maximus that crossed the line ahead of Wild Oats X1 a five time line victor in the classic to win by just 3 minutes, eight seconds.

Winner on handicap, the yacht Loki photograph by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Overall winner on handicap was the Sydney boat Loki, a Reichel Pugh 63 seen in the photograph (above) by Rolex cameraman Daniel Forster.

I have said it before, but this is the kind of yacht race (ocean crossing) that I enjoy. A second choice only to stories of those who elect to sail in small boats and circumsize (sorry, I think I have that wrong!) I meant to say circumnavigate the world.

Derwemt Maxi battle, Investec Loyal and Wild Oats X1 hammer and tong up the Derwent

Getting ready for the start - Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson aboard Ella Bache in the race to Hobart
photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

Two good books read between December and February this year were Jessica Watson’s True Spirit, her exceedingly well written account of her single-handed 24,285 nautical mile non stop voyage in a 10.3 metre yacht, and Pippa Blake’s Journeys written ten years after her husband Peter’s departure-by-murder from this world.  I enjoyed them both and had hoped to include a short review of Jessica’s book but every effort to obtain images were thwarted and my enthusiasm perhaps understandably diminished with the passage of time.  The authors are both ladies that I admire and their books are highly recommended.

The little `Aussie’ went on to skipper a chartered `Sydney 38’  in the Sydney to Hobart, the entire crew made up of youngsters. The boat  (Ella Bache) was sponsored by that company who were also Jessica’s sponsor of her round the world yacht Ella’s Pink Lady.

Well hopefully some of you have been working on a model (Sailing or powered boat) for our `weathering’ challenge officially announced in Marine Modelling International in its February issue, because we are getting closer to the closing date of 30th September when entries have to be in by email.  With two prizes of one year subscriptions to the magazine offered, (one for Class A/Sailboats, one for Class B/Powered craft and a third for the best youngster’s effort(16 years and below), it is well worth winning.  I know of several modelers who are working on entries, the winners to be shown in the November issue of the magazine.

Make your model appear, weather beaten, bruised and a bit battered, a victim of rust invasion, realistically scungy, paint-scarred and `tired’ and in need of  maintenance, torn and dirty sails if it is a sailing boat. Here’s two tips for you – use matt rather than gloss paint, and have a handy supply of rough sandpaper.

More details on rules etc (and entries to go by email to)

Tim in Maine, USA – his entry, a trawler
shown in pre-muss-up guise

You should perhaps request a picture of  the writer for a prime example of someone weather beaten and a bit battered by the passing years, and indeed well-weathered!

Amalfi astern of the writer's ketch Marigold seeking wind at Onepoto in Auckland, New Zealand

An early morning sail

Returning to port

Amalfi breezes along

Amalfi is a town in Salerno, Italy that Englishman Roy Lake always remembered passing through in a race during his successful years of cycle racing, he just never forgot the charm and beauty of the place.

Emigrating to New Zealand, when he wanted a name for a three-masted schooner that he built, the name was chosen and the boat became Amalfi. Fitted with crew the model was often sailed and attracted much attention at various ponds and lakes in his new homeland. When he gave up modelmaking, the schooner the boat was part of  his car and ship model collection he donated to the late Bob Walters son for a private home museum at his home on Auckland’s north shore.

Built to pretty well the same scale as the writer’s turn of the century ketch Marigold, the two boats were in several occasions sailed together on the Onepoto lake and are seen in the final photograph above.

I wanted one of these for Christmas. a sleek pedal power trike  that looked just like this one. Santa (in the mall) told me it was a `definite possibility’ and that it would give me much needed exercise, but come Christmas morning there was no such thing in the garage, neither in the driveway outside.

My good friend of parallel hobby interests and journalistic backgrounds, Bob Hicks, who publishes and edits Messing about in Boats gets his exercise from pedal-powered cycle contraptions known as trikes and has a long standing friend, Joe Bolger who spent years hand-building one that is real enough to have one believing that it is true and genuine Morgan sports car.  That is Bob beside it above looking absolutely `spiffingly English’ while thinking outside the box of normal and rational thought about making one for himself!

As a result of a few readers having advised that they were unable to open and view the two videos embedded in last months column (one being me!) I hope this will offer help. Various people will always have issues with embedded content, usually in cases where they are using older PC's and browsers without the appropriate plug-ins – or new browsers which have not been updated regularly.

One other issue can be a slow internet connection which struggles to load all of the content. This is an issue for all website content publishers and short of placing a support person in every reader's home there is really nothing a publisher can do about it except offer the following advice:

  1. Update your internet browser software to the latest version.
  2. Keep your internet browser software up to date by accepting updates when these are offered.
  3. Make sure you have at least one alternatice browser installed (all are free to download) in case your issue of the day is browser specific – something may not render on one browser but do so perfectly on another.

My son who is also an internet magazine publisher offers the foregoing as help. He knows his computer stuff and would not like to see embedded videos avoided. There will always be some readers who will experience such difficulties (and others!) from time to time…that's the world we live in and that's computers,

Don't shoot the computer though, it is still a `can't do without the bastard'` part of our lives and a wonderful tool, and don't blame the publishers.

I came upon this delightful little poem in Messing about in Boats December issue, thought to myself `that’s the sort of things that Annie Holmes would
write’  quickly realizing that it was hers. (I reviewed Annie’s book Skiff Song recently some may remember).

Advice for the Autumn Boater

Boats get into trouble
if you leave them
for too long.
They can pout
and as you know,
they can bite
if they are really out
about being abandoned.
Buy the boat a trinket,
something bronze or stainless,
and tell her
the season is not over yet
even if it is.

Annie Holmes, San Diego, California

I was on a visit to a West Coast beach and saw this guy lying on his stomach on the sand with puffed cheeks and blowing for all he was worth at a parked land yacht – I said to him “It aint movin!” but he insisted that it would cos they were now called blowkarts  and soon there were three of them blowing!

My sailing mate Des of the Ancient Mariners told me that he heard from his son that the model yacht sailing was excellent in heaven, lots of ponds, water always clean and always a good breeze.  But then he added “If I hear that’s not so, I’m telling you, I aint going, I’ll absolutely refuse to go and that’s definite “.  Shhhh  (delete three h’s and fill in two letters you think are appropriate!)  - That’s being positive for you!  Des is always positive!


A contact of mine, Stanislaus Zowgreski  of Zagreb in Croatia who is 89 has just taken up power walking, just so that he can hear the sound of heavy breathing once again. He sails an A class size model cruising boat  and that is pretty damn impressive for a man approaching 90.


Milton Thrasher of Saratoga Model Yachts has a new website that’s mucho grande with 105 megabytes of storage – (Gee whiz! that must stretch for several suburban blocks!!!)


Rick Mayes in Maroochdore, Queensland, Australia sent me this `testing cruise' photo of his model of the Maltese Falcon (Italics) that he is working on and which is nearing completion. The model will be something to behold and although there is one other person also building one, Rick's boat may well be completed before any other.

Fleet leaders on the stream in the Beyond to the pond Fleet

Whatever happened to the Footy yachts of the Ancient Mariners (I was asked in an email by a model yachtsman in England). It is a good question for there was once (some years ago) a reasonably healthy number of the little boats owned and sailed by members of the group, and in fact, they were once yearly raced down a narrow canal and into the main lake at Onepoto competing for a very handsome mounted cannon trophy.

I more or less organized the race to which I had given the name Beyond to the pond and for the years that it ran, it was preceeded a month before by another similar race called `The Huey Writ-On’  (a play on the pre America’s Cup Louis Vuitton series). First held in 2001 on the first Thursdays of March and April it started with a flurry of building activity, nine newly-built boats fronting up for the race down the canal from the start at the headwater point, Des Pittams establishing himself as the first `King’ of the Footies.

First ever winner, Des Pittams

Ron Rule's Footy ketch

A nice scale Footy, Brian Cuthbert's keeler Sprat

Footy trio dawn sail

Held annually for seven years, many of the original Ancient Mariner `Footy pioneers’ were to exit the class and two I remember passed away, others unable to devote the effort to master the very different complexities and frustrations of sailing a boat that small lost interest, and I should mention that the first time it was sailed, the original winning Pittams boat was sailed to victory with a steering servo only and no sail control.

Despite the enthusiasm by a few new RC sailors, and despite the provision of opportunity to sail the little boats on normal Thursdays among the big boats, interest waned and the very last race was held in 2007when it was won by Ron Rule. I put the reason for decline down to the general feeling by many that firstly `piddling around’ with boats twelve inches long was not their idea of fun (for a few a way of saying “I can’t get the hang of it”)  and secondly that the Ancient Mariners was a group for windling and definitely not one for racing.

Where is the wonderful trophy created by Auckland Ancient Mariner, Tom Simpson  today?  Well, I don’t have it but I do just happen to know … and I aint tellin’ NOBODY!

Cheap labour force at Derek's model shipyard!


Click Here for a List of Articles and Columns by Mark Steele