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 Where the Winds Blow...
by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand


WTWB/Aug 2012

Mark Tindall

The INVINCIBLE  was built at Rochefort, France and launched in 1744 and was a highly valuable prize of war when captured by Britain’s Royal Navy at the first battle of Finisterre in May 1747. History tells us that it had taken three British ships to overwhelm her, and thenshe only surrendered when she ran out of ammunition.

Mark Tindall, once a subscribing reader to my now defunct little magazine Windling World has an absolute fascination with all types of sailing models but a particular love of square-rigged ships, and his incredibly detailed RC sailing model of the Invincible is said (not by him!) to be among the best of its kind in the world of models.

The model was built inverted on a baseboard with a T section set up on moulds on which he then laminated all the frames after which he planked the model in the traditional way. Built at 1:48th scale which gives an overall length of 11mm, the planks are of panama pine, bent by first soaking and then bending using an instrument maker’s bending iron.

Stern galleries with real glass panes

The beautiful stern galleries were a difficult task, all built up traditionally, the windows with real glass panes. The carving work on the whole of these galleries was done in white sycamore onto a blue background. All cannons are of turned brass and a small lathe was deemed essential as there are 74 of them aboard. The ship’s boats are clinker built and represented the most painstaking of tasks as they are open bats visible both inside and out and were made upside down and planked.

Round Pond launching day

With two drum winches to operate the braces on the main and foresail yards, the rudder is worked from a servo on the third function. The most impressive figurehead was carved from lime, then the grain filled and the figure painted with oil pant. In itself it is a work of art.

The launching was held on 26th Juny 1998 at the Round Pond, London’s Kensington Gardens, a pond very familiar and greatly loved by the writer.  My first coverage of the model (A warship to windle with) appeared in  Windling World magazine April  2001 issue.

Those leaving

Tides come and go, winds
rise up and blow,
dusk to dawn
oft no time to warn, let
alone to know
when each of us
upon our final tide will go.

Which friends could well
without delay. slip anchor, sail away,
within the minute, on this day
or on the morrow
leave loved ones in sorrow,
which ones among us,
who for sure can say?

Mark Steele


Departed within the last year, sailing friends, enthusiasts of the model yacht, readers and friends both known and never met but all remembered.

Geoffrey and  Bill, of England, Keith, Pierre of  Le Mans, France, Charles of London, George, Walter and Cecil of the USA .Monty of Canada, Mark Carter of New Zealand who for years printed Windling World and Howard `Nobby' Clark of Auckland Scale Marine Modellers and the Ancient Mariners..

Ready for the voyage

Tim Severin’s book  The China Voyage,  I understand from Clive Halliwell who lives in Lancashire, England, inspired the build of his model of the impressive ocean going raft Hsu Fu. It wasalso the name of  the  fullsize vessel, so named after an ancient Chinese mariner ordered by the first Emperor of China to search the Pacific islands for an elixir of immortality.  People in China still die so I guess the sought elixir was never found.

Going out with the tide

Beached on the mudflat waiting for the tide

This is an  operational scale  model of great difference to the usual run of vintage and modern sailing yachts that I show photos of and write about, and though some readers may  opt to not spend too much time perusing it, the HSU FU although quite different,is nonetheless a sailing vessel  (see them tan-coloured `thingies’ sticking upright!!!)  and it is radio controlled. Added to that, Clive has fitted fully operational solar panels on the cabin tops to charge and help maintain  the  7.2 volt powerpack aboard (and to provide power for the radio telephone!)

My strange interest in rafts of the ocean-going kind was I suppose spawned from the day during years spent on the island of Barbados in the Caribbean, when in 1970 we stood overlooking the Careenage port to await then watch Thor Heyerdahl and his crew arrive aboard the raft Ra II  after a voyage across the Atlantic from Morocco.

Clive Halliwell’s model was extensively featured in a two part feature in Marine Modelling International in its January and February 2012 issues, and it is thanks to my friend Barrie Stevens, the editor and then the builder Clive who sent me further photos that I can include them in this issue.

Clive Halliwell with the raft HSU FU

The original was 60’ long by 15’ wide with a sail area 800 square feet. Built  1/24th scale the model ended up at 30” long by 7.5 “ wide and fullsize plans were included and are available from Marine Modelling International if building one takes anyones fancy.

Clive’s model is made entirely of bamboo, much of it from an old wicker basket located in a junk shop and  taken to pieces over an hour and a bit in the garden. Well, in an emergency situation a man has got to do what a man has got to do.

I am not going to delve into the many processes required for the build, the materials used or the methods of fitting them because they are covered at great length within the two MMI issues mentioned, and the plan included within the first issue is extremely detailed.  I would add also that this is not the sort of model that is going to attract hundreds of `I want to build one’ people I don’t think, and for those who might consider it a unique and very different selected subject to build, those plans and copies of the two Marine Modelling International issues (available from the Publishers) are more than


Thistle puts distance Between itself and the fleet
(Mark Steele photos)

  accelerating Under reduced sail

With topsail fitted

Builder/owner Tom with Thistle

Tom Simpson of Auckland, New Zealand, a member of the Ancient Mariners is know for his fondness for and building of pretty boats. A meticulously patient and painstaking builder who delights in solving problems associated with his projects, in late 2000 his 81” long cutter Thistle was launched.

With a touch of Britannia in her lines, Thistle twelve years later is still  an absolutely stunning looker and one of the prettiest RC sailing model yachts on the water at Onepoto where the Ancient Mariners gather to sail on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The hull is planked single skin on sawn frames in NZ kauri timber, the decks ply, the spars are of Oregon pine, cabins are teak, the sails cut from the sail of an old 10’ 6” sailing dinghy. Fittings were all made by Tom out of bronze, all the standard rigging from braided Dacron polyester of 80lb test.What an impressive sight this boat is on the water. A blast from the past best describes Thistle!  A great  `Classic’ design created with wonderful workmanship.

 Marine Modelling International

Well, the time to build an entry for the `Weathering Challenge’ has almost expired as entries have to be in by email by 30th September, which means there is just a month to go.

Sponsored by Marine Modelling International, Duckworks Magazine and The Model Yacht, the top prizes in both sail and power boat classes (as well as the best Junior entry) win a years subscription to the magazine, so there are awards worth winning.

I have only seen photos of a few partly weathered boats being prepared for entry. Ship modelers have had several months to create entries and the boats (as many as possible) will appear in Marine Modelling  first. Followed by this column in Duckworks online. This is your last reminder.

use of image kind courtesy of Messing about in Boats

Okay then, who has right of way?  You have a crewman aloft up the fore mast and your small ship is heading towards a huge dorsal-finned mammal of the deep ocean charging across your bow. Do you veer off quickly in the direction of where he is coming from to avoid collision or do you yell and swear about “bloody whales” and argue about `traffic rights’ and try to run over the top of the creature that appears  to the guy above to be longer than the ship?  (I know what I’d do, I’d rapidly steer to starboard while praying that a sudden deep dive of the mammal is imminent.)


Not of world shattering importance but it is often on my mind, so perhaps I should write to Sir David Attenborough and ask him …  if a turtle doesn’t have a shell is he homeless or naked? If it is the latter, should he then arrested for either streaking or exposing himself?


You will want to see Flavio Faluci of Genoa's quite amazing and decidedly pretty little `half a Footy in size model called Perepe to be featured in an issue of Marine Modelling International sometime in the months ahead. You may remember that I wrote about Flavio's Footy model called Presto and Wooden Boat's in that one in the July issue.

Perepe in the rough stuff

The hull is the size of a mobile phone give or take a few millimetres or a centimeter here and there but this one is for sailing and you can’t make calls on it!


In this wonderful country of New Zealand, people have gone totally bonkers over food, and the media in order to catch their interests have now ensured that their `productions’ are heavily weighted with food matter material. (Oh yes, and lovely mouth-watering photos too for those who get turned on by such!–Just look at that potato with the butter oozing out of it as it sits on the lettuce leaf and the way the cashew nut floats in the exquisite swirl of gravy!  (Some `foodies’ say they can get so excited they can almost have a mind-blowing culinary orgasm there and then!)  Is that like indigestion  with three quick burps?


Did David Lucas when titling the above photograph taken at Cedar Key, Florida not mean `The Pitz' instead of `The Ritz ?' I think it may have been in use as a `hookers hut' and the notice on the wall either not noticed or disregarded by its last pair of lovers, that they should limit their exuberances if the earth started to move for them, in view of shaky structural wharf foundations!


Now isn't that photograph (above) a soothing sight for sore eyes It is the chased and the chaser taken in Maryland at the Jones Regatta a few years back. Two beautiful schooners, sails well set and handling the conditions admirably.


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