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

WTWB/Sept 2012

Onepoto K class(ers) on the move

The K Class boat was designed by Kiwi Bob Stewart and was the result of a design competition by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in 1944 for a one design craft..  Stewart was a protégé of the famous New Zealand designer, Arch Logan and his design for K91 Helen had come second , but because the winner was never built, Stewart’s boat was adjudged the victor. The original fullsize boat was 41’ long and the boat was in its first six years of racing unbeaten. it has been well nigh impossible to get much details on the class suffice to give a better n intro to this item on RC models of K Class yachts built and sailed by Ancient Mariners members sailing water at Onepoto lagoon in Northcote on the north shore  of New Zealand’s North Island.

Builders of the models, John Stubbs, Laurie Manning, Derek Nicholson, Bob Kempster and  Brian  King on somewhat rare occasions have sailed their K’s together, and Derek(also a talented woodworker) on a day of great enthusiasm produced a carved trophy for if and when the AM’s who are not into racing, by mutual agreement chose to mount an annual event.

It wasn’t to be a serious `race’ (because the AM group are a cruising (or windling) one, and one fine day in September 2011 by pre-arrangement the boats were all on the lagoon and Derek (with a modicum of help from the writer) took the photos shown here.  There on a dullish day, a planned gathering resulted in four of the five again fronting and Laurie Manning winning two of the three shakedown events to become the first winner of the trophy.

Laurie Manning's winning K Class

Derek gives instructions to his skipper

Study in sailing expressions Left to right, Laurie, Derek and John

Writer Mark (at left) hands over the trophy

Handsome carved K Class Trophy

"We are well ahead that's why we are going the other way!"

Left to right, John, Bob, winner Laurie, Derek

Black Gauntlet

On the front cover of the November 2008 issue of my friend Bob Hicks' magazine Messing about in Boats, was the photograph of an unmistakably Phil Bolger designed ketch. I never passed that issue on and the time has now come to do a little story on what I have always considered a beautiful boat which Bolger designed for the late Peter Duff of the firm Edey and Duff. It was in the mid 1950’s that Peter had called on Bolger who wrote in his Bolger on Design article in that issue that  having been commissioned by Duff led him to design the 34’ sharpie with leeboards (Design #136) that was to become Black Gauntlet which Peter and Margaret, and in due course their children were to cruise in for some fifteen years.

Bolger, not entirely happy with a few design points on Black Gauntlet  was later to draw plans for Black Gauntlet II  and to this day (I read somewhere) those plans have never been found.

Although we shared two or three letters when I wrote to Phil about his folding schooner during the production years of my Windling World magazine  he was most helpful, and he had made a point of stressing to me, that the 31’ folding schooner was conceived as a joke.  When in the mid seventies he entered the boat in an annual schooner race in Gloucester as an `unserious poor man’s entry’ it was not exactly well received by the serious-minded race organizers.

I never really knew Phil Bolger which I have always regretted, for this almost cult figure in the world of recreational boat design when faced with impending deterioration of his mind was to take his life at the back of his property in Gloucester, Massachusetts on May 24th 2009. He wanted to leave this world on his own terms. He was 81.

The late Phil Bolger

Peter Duff (Bob Hicks wrote in his November 2008 issue) `succumbed in September that year at age 72 after a quarter of a century of battling Parkinson’s Disease, sustained all the way by his wife Maggie.’ Two very talented boating individuals had departed this world within eight months of each other.

Where Duff’s  Black Gauntlet is now is anybody’s guess. It is rumoured that she was seen in Connecticut where (it was said she was up for sale) but that might not be true. Pleasure yachts often temporarily disappear returning after makeover in somewhat different guise and with a new name, others often just vanish forever and end up just rotting away on a beach or in someone’s boatyard.

Surprisingly, I can find very little on the internet about the boat and nobody can tell me if any others were ever built. The same can be said of Black Gauntlet II.  It is a pity really, for such a lovely boat from a designer of the calibre of the late Phil Bolger was worth being built, sailed and enjoyed by others, surely?

I haven’t written to Phil Bolger & Friends Inc to try and get some details of the whereabouts of the lovely shoal draft boat, but maybe someone reading this column might know and will email Duckworks and ask them to tell me? There are far more important matters at the moment going on Phil Bolger and Friends than my questions I might ask.

`Weathering Model boat builders’ – it is now almost the end of September which when related to the Weathering Challenge simply means that you have now run out of time to complete your entry or entries and send the entry form and images (and details) off by email to the address that was provided.

If you did enter I’d say that if either your sailboat or powerboat entry has been well carried out and looks so darn `real’ and as those weathered fullsize yachts and other boats we have all seen seemingly abandoned in river inlets and harbours (for the Americans I should say `harbors’) the chances of winning a years subscription to Marine Modelling International are excellent – you can take that comment any way you choose to! You will now have to wait on the judges for the result and winners will be advised by email in advance of any publicity.

Built in the city of Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand was this impressive sailing model of a square rigger that started its life way back in 1830 as a paddle steamer called Punjab. Later, bought by the brothers Willis she was converted into an impressive looking clipper ship, had her overall length added to by ninety feet, her boilers removed and with lines off the Cutty Sark she became The Tweed and made seventeen voyages to New Zealand engaged in the transporting of new immigrants.

Warwick Stephens  of Christchurch whose Great Grandfather, John Millow had arrived aboard her on an 1874 voyage from England started building a model of the ship in 2004, the build to take two years. He built the hull fully planked in cedar, the masts and yard of southland beech, the sails of Egyptian cotton which Warwick and his wife had bought on a visit to Egypt that year.

Built at 1/48th scale, the model is fully radio controlled and is transported to and from sailing venues fully rigged. It does not have a false keel and the ballast to the waterline has been achieved by the placement of scale wood bales made out of lead and placed in the hull. The weight of ballast in the model is 13.5kg. On each of The Tweed’s return voyages to England she returned ballasted with wood and tea. Full credit to Warwick for his build of what is an impressive square-rigged ship. A member of the Christchurch Model Yacht Club he occasionally sails her there on Lake Victoria, and at Lyttelton harbour (where she is seen above).

One Michael (or was it Juan Michael) has in August in the State of…(we will forget that!) swapped his schooner Bella after sixteen years of infatuation, for a younger Jilly P, well endowed in that she has two huge… (what’s the word I’m looking for agh yes.. hulls, and is both beamy and …detailed, that’s it! ) and until then the sailing love of one Patrick.

Even in the world of model yachting it seems, swapping `partners’ occasionally occurs . Please note that the writer is the soul of discretion,so it is just a tale of one Juan  and  one each Patrick, Bella and Jilly!

Oops, just remembered that a later email came in from Patrick saying that prior to the swap he had `borrowed’ Juan’s Jilly to satisfy himself of her `on the water abilities’. (What?  She’s a swimmer as well!)

(You wicked devils, clean up your thoughts,   please, this is a clean show!)

The schooner that kept its secrets including its name

Just a section of the Fleetwood Scale fleet

One of many schooners...

...and another!

Fleetwood is a town from the era of Queen Victoria in Lancashire, England with a population at the last census of nearly 27,000. It boasts one of the finest docks in Britain and is said to have excellent fishing. It is also the home base of the well known model yacht club, the Fleetwood Model Yacht and Power Boat Club.

With a club house, probably the largest club house and boat store in England, (shown above) with storage for up to 80 boats located on the main promenade, it has two lakes, one for model yachting, the other for boating and sail-training.

The impressive Fleetwood clubhouse

Formed in 1929, the lake was officially opened in 1932 by Earl Bettie of Jutland fame at a time when the club already had 100 members having evolved from a group of model yachtsmen who sailed their boats on a piece of water near the shore known locally as `The Navvied Pond’ . In 1933 just a year after opening, the British A Class Championship was held there for the first time at Fleetwood and since that time, many major National and International Championships for many classes have been held there.

Today  it has a race section and a thriving scale section. The club currently has 121 members, a considerable amount of whom are recycled teenagers. The club sails a number of types of boats divided into two main sections, scale and racing yachts. There are currently 85 members in the scale section, the rest either into racing yachts, power boats and electric/scale tug boats. There are also several detailed scale modelers both in power and sail areas.

The scale section is the largest in the club and includes schooners which are often converted old A Class or Marblehead racing yachts, scratch built one-off sailing boats or the club’s own one-design 39” long Lady Class hulled boats.

The schooners raced are divided into three classes, A, B and C class boats. The A Class boats are above 53” long, the B class between 37” and 53” and the C Class any size up to 37”. The Lady Class can be a single mast. All boats above 37” in the schooner section must be schooner rigged ie two sets of sails, the smaller boats must be gaff-rigged, the larger ones can be either Bermudan or gaff-rigged. An interesting rule is that no winches are allowed in the schooners, the boats only fitted with rudder servos.  (Can’t see the point but them’s the rules and it is their show.)

Without the wheels she would look
much better, nice schooner though

Boats for fighting and fishing!

and more fishing!

On Tuesdays the club sails Mustang yachts, a one-design specific to Fleetwood that is una rigged like big Lasers where there are 6 boats that sail.  The schooner classes sail together on a Wednesday with either a common or staggered start at the discretion of the Officer of the Day and as much as 22 boats are on the water sailing continually for one hour with cups awarded at the end of the year for each class. The Mustang was I am almost certain, the forerunner to the una-rigged Laser and probably in some way led to the John Spencer una-rigged  Fun Fellow(s) of New Zealand

Racing yachts, mainly a big Laser fleet sail on a Sunday and also sail at other venues for the Northern TT Trophy, also sailed are one metre yachts which form a very small part of the club, and there are a small number who sail Vane boats.

In the early years all the yachts were vane controlled but in th early 1970’s RC yachting became popular and has grown in popularity to the major role it plays today, and Fleetwood plays host to a number of major events. I think you will enjoy a quick gander at the sailing boats and thanks to those in the club who did their best to help the writer with information, particularly Tom the General Secretary.

Waffling `dumplomats’, Lame ducks. 
 Toothless tigers and meowing scaredy cats!

Even the name is a joke and should be pre-ceded by `un’ (or non) for that much referred to body of representatives of the nations of the world that meet in New York is certainly not united, far from it.  It is full of gormless geeks representing `nations’ high on the offending list that perform atrocities on their own people who sit impeccably dressed in tailor-made suits, their teeth pearly white, their faces suggesting they haven’t a clue what the question meant, their minds tuned in to the afternoon’s period ahead to do a bit of shopping!

It is all `show’ and a waste of time and money and it is no use uttering the phrase `the United Nations should do something about it’ because they won’t, the toothless tigers when it comes to crux time will either abstain or vote safe with others like themselves who don’t really have any idea even what the vote is for despite it having been translated into their own language.

Watch the hands go up  when  a `Study Group’ delegation is on the agenda involving a UN funded tour to somewhere like the Bahamas, the Caribbean or Grand Cayman islands, an opportunity to get some Calypso shirts and be recognized and acclaimed as the `representative of the nation of obejangosweetmango in distant Rugongocongoland that few have ever heard of.

When critical matters call for voting, often principal leading nations like Russia and China vote against action.  Three cheers for the Non-United Nations founded in 1945   ER, UMM! MEOW! Quack! Quack!

We (my wife and I) are not big wine purchasers but I more than just occasionally look at the various bottles in our supermarket, primarily for the labels, rather like the man who only buys Playboy for the excellent articles within the pages!  (Oh I can’t say I have ever seen naked women in there! You must be imagining things!)

I came upon this label for an Australian Cabernet called  WOOP WOOP which New Zealand wine writer John Hawkesby said, means `out there’ which in New Zealand with a wave of the hand we might call `the wops’. In the mythical land of Ghobadi Bhaba they produce a limited edition blood-red, somewhat bitter bush wine called `DE FAH WEI PIZUN!  All mean same ting, dey come from a `fah place’  but in the interest of living to tell the tale, (despite being a fan of the land of Ghobadi Bhaba which as most know, is situated due West of the Codswallop coast.)  I’d play safe and go for the South Australian  WOOP WOOP Cabernet which I have tried and enjoyed!

You’ll invariably find the older generation at any and often every sailing pond  as they have a quiet sail, fiddle with sail adjustments and enjoying each others company, stopping only for a cup of tea or coffee.

No serious sailing stuff, no arguments about rules and no grumbling about weed, they are there to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet and quality time before time runs out.  They are the salt of the earth, people like Ken Horton and Alan Gillivray (in the blue hat) at Millhouses Park in Sheffield, UK. Sadly Alan has now slipped anchor.  The photograph was taken by Neville Wade who sails his magnificent square riggers there.

Some build beautiful model sailboats, some of us write, some do sculpture others paint pictures like Birgit O'Connor of Bolinas, California an artist friend of the writer. She paints beautiful flowers, runs courses on painting for people and also does a colorful and interesting newsletter periodically. Wish we had more walls in our house Birgit, however I remain an admirer of your work. Google her on the net readers, have a look and even just say hello, she's a nice lady.

From sub to schooner!

This was a model of a submarine believe it or not, then converted to the schooner shown by a gentleman in England who tired of not seeing the sub underwater.

I have written about him and `it’ before but right now I can’t remember and haven’t got either the time or the `get up and go (which `went’) to find it.

Kiwi Andrew Fagan, busy chap that he is, has written another book Swirly World sails south, which if it is every page as good as his first one of some years ago will be just as enjoyable. That is Swirly World (above) with Andrew’s two young sons aboard, a photo from which all will quickly gather that at 18’ long there is not much of her, yet she cruises the Pacific ocean often in the roughest of conditions.

Radio  host. Key member of a band, author and the keenest of sailors, I wish you well with an abundance of good and safe sailing.


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