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

 WTWB  November 2012

Ian Hunt of Sydney, Australia's  Dunbar 
flotation test, on Wentworth Falls lake

Ian Hunt in Sydney, Australia is probably one of the most meticulous and patient (add the word `skilled’) model shipwrights in the South Pacific. His models take years of painstaking work to complete, his last one, the Sindia a classic example of his work.

Originally from Britain but a very long time settled in Australia, Ian obviously enjoys his hobby of model shipbuilding and the latest project is the Blackwall frigate of 1852, Dunbar built in the UK of oak and teak at Sunderland for passenger transport.

Big wide open decks were a feature of these ships,
uncluttered by deckhouses, Capstans and rows
of lifeboats. It makes a modeler’s life easier.

Alas she was to be a vessel that did not last long, for just five years later on 21st August 1857, caught in a heavy gale at Watsons Bay, Sydney Heads at night she foundered with the loss of all 121 passengers, a crewman, James Johnson the only survivor. Built of wood, the Dunbar was smashed to pieces against the cliffs and sharp rock ledges by the huge seas to become the worst disaster in the maritime history of Australia,

Ian has been building the model for the last four years,  which is being built to a scale of 1/36 or 3’ to 1” and is therefore a bit smaller than the lengthy model he built of Sindia. However its length overall is 8’ 2” so she is still a `biggie’. When Ian’s model has been completed he says it will be the only model of the Dunbar in the world.

I am not going to elaborate further, instead to show you two photographs, one of the hull during tested for balance, the other of the vessel showing further progress. Ian’s models are always launched though they are basically display models and are not radio controlled.

I nourish the hope that this column will still be in existence in some shape or form to show the ship on the water upon completion.

I take liberty to quote a beautiful poem of ships and the sea by Paul Laurence Dunbar, widely acknowledged as the first important black poet in America literature. His name has nothing to do with the ship. Enjoy it.

Ships that pass in the night

Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;
I look far out into the pregnant night,
Where I can hear a solemn booming gun
And catch the gleaming of a random light,
That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.

My tearful eyes my soul’s deep hurt are glassing;
For I would hail and check that ship of ships,
I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud,
My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips,
And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing

O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean. Both surpassing.
O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the dark!
Is there no hope for me? Is there no way
That I may sight and check that speeding bark
Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?

Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Bluenose schooner with builder/owner
John Dowd at an Exhibition

Waiting on a puff to fill the foresail.

Bluenose in action on the water

The name John Dowd is one those who read the British magazines on scale models will be familiar with. Born in London in 1939, because of the war John had to move to Burtonwood, a small village north of Warrington. After he left school he did an Apprenticeship in engineering working on bakery equipment machinery later working all over the UK in bakeries, bread biscuits and cakes.

He is now retired and loving the freedom and sails with the Runcorn Model Club in the park just south of the town. His seven foot long Bluenose schooner draws too much to be able to be sailed on the shallow lake there and she is therefore more often seen at Fleetwood on Wednesdays at their schooner races. The 1:20th scale Bluenose (seen above) needs 26 inches of water so she is also sailed in the very deep water at the Ellesmore Port Boat Museum and on one or two canals in the district. Full details of the boat can be seen on John’s website

The Bluenose was launched 22 years ago and she has had a hard life. An absolute joy to sail, he says she appears to have just shrugged it off and happily carried on sailing.

Arrived and all ready to be launched

An absolute visual treat on the water

And then there is his Endeavour

A really nice image of Endeavour  under sail

and we sit and we wait on the wind!

Endeavour starts To gather speed

Sleek frontal lines of Endeavour seen on the stand

John’s  other main boat Endeavour is only `near scale’ the hull nearly to scale above the waterline, but `below’ it is `functional’ with a deep keel and a large lead bulb on the end which gives the boat a really good sailing performance.

The hull is actually a 10 Rater hull that was given to him some years ago, possibly had never sailed and he laid it down in his workshop for ages. Two years ago when he saw some photos of the real Endeavour he gutted the hull down to the glassfibre, fitted deck beams and a ply under-deck, then a scale planked deck was laid on top. Planking the deck too John ages for wood is not like the metals he is used to working with for it tends to split and crack.

Scale cabins were made and fitted, two fishing rods one inside the other became the mast and the main boom, a scale copy of the real triangular one is 33 inches in length.

The Endeavour hull is just under six feet long, the mast standing just under seven feel high. At 1:22 scale she needs 16 inches of water to sail.  Radio gear aboard is one RMG main winch to handle the mainsail and a Hitec HS 815BB lever arm winch handling the Quad and the jib sails. The ready to sail weight is 40lbs and battery power is 4 Ah Nicads that provide John with ample time on the water. His other boats are a one metre which he has raced quite a lot and a una-rig Mickey Finn which is fun to sail.

In correspondence I have found him to be a hell of a nice guy whom I suspect I would get on well with. He and his wife have been married for over fifty years.

Sea Lion built & photographed by Rick Mayes

Pool flotation test with temporary deckhouses from schooner Blue Peter ...and to admire the hull lines!

Final fitting out with permanent deckhouses etc in place

Sunshine Coast Sea Lion

There is a spanking new J Class yacht on the International scene these days. She is Lionheart (built to the Ranger design)and is the first J to be built using plans of a yacht that was never built. Owned by a Dutchman and launched in the Netherlands, she is said to have been constructed below decks to the highest standards as a fast modern cruising boat.

There are five other J class boats afloat, so Lionheart brings the overall current number up to a bakers dozen of six. As two more take shape, are the hey days of the big J’s again approaching? Possibly and hopefully so for yacht racing certainly needs another exciting shot in the arm, what with multi-hull often ass-over-tip boats presently all the rage.

But back to the model RC yacht scene and to Sea Lion (seen above), this one  loosely built on somewhat similar lines to Lionheart,  on a hull originally from the Canterbury J Class boats in Christchurch, New Zealand by principally a schooner modeller Rick Mayes of Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia.

I will let him elaborate on why he desparately wanted one, how he has presented it and then get him to give you some details of his Sea Lion.

Rick writes: `Ever since I became aware of the Canterbury J class yachts from Christchurch in New Zealand I have always wanted one in my “marina” of models and when the chance came to get a hull  I grabbed it. As I am a scale modeller and not a racing one I built the boat on the layout and rig of the relatively new J class Lionheart.

Obsession led to creation of a special J

My initial thought was to have arm winches, but because of how much overlap there is on the jib, plus the amount of sheet payout on the mainsail the idea was scrapped and 3 normal size servo steel drum winches which rotated four times with 13kg pull capacity were purchased and positioned directly behind the mast across the hull, the middle winch travelling towards the stern to handle the mainsail and staysail, the port and starboard jib sheet winches travelling forward towards the bow.

There are three flush deck hatches. two either side positioned just forward of the mast and one at the bow and the rudder servo is positioned directly in front of the rudder stock. For the further technically minded I placed the receiver aft of the port jib winch, its battery aft of the starboard jib winch, Two deck houses allow access to the internal workings, The trim weight was not used and this weight was taken up with the 3 winches.

A 12.7mm aluminum groovy mast was used along with aluminum tubing for the main and staysail booms, the sails made from 1.5 ounce spinnaker cloth, four full length battens sewn into the mainsail.

I made the deckhouses of mahogany (or Mah-ha-go-nee as a Swiss friend used to refer to it!) with silver ash used for the planking trim. The deck was planked usig 3mm X 2mm limewood and the overall weight of the model is 6.5kgs.”

Sea Lion with Rick Mayes


Watch out for the rampant scammers trying to alarm people with emails with utter `bullcrap’ messages, and their emails with legit logos of companies like YAHOO, Pepsi, Coke, Rolex and every conceivable bank you can think of. X them out pronto for if you give them your password and a few other details asked for, be prepared to be the victim of a scam that could ruin you. Watch out for offers from `Tabatha’ also to send `erectshun’ problem pills at `cheepiss’ price! I like the photo of an elephants trunk she enclosed!

Someone I know received letters from FBI head man Robert Mueller saying that he (a correspondent in Bermuda) was now soon to be arrested, the scam signed by someone  in a suit just out of the jungle with an African name. My friend said he had received several preliminary letters and deleted them which seemed to send the ape into a frenzy, bringing about the intent to arrest and charging head first into every tree he could find!

And don’t fall for the emails bearing sad new of senders dying, others that want your help to invest in your country the umpty-dippety-three billion non existent dollars their late father in Nigeria or Bongo-Bongo land left them before he was executed by rebels. (Well, since  I only just moments ago fell out of the shakawanker  tree and entered the world,  I’ll be a starter for that one  Princess Salome of Banda Moga! My password is `Ratsbehind’ one word!

They are all scams, I mean why would someone with access to US$ 28 million want to invest it with you or I,  so hit the most popular key on your computer screen, the X key and whatever you do, don’t reply to them.


Someone in Auckland whom I know suggested that doing the Zumba  would help lose weight so I went to have a look first, joining the hall full of zumba-ites rocking away to the loud music. Half an hour later I was exhausted just looking at the leotard clad bodies (mainly women) jumping around as though they were all on some Bogota acid, swaying hips, bouncing jelly-like bosoms, wobbling headsets et al and I slipped out  satisfied in knowing  that it wasn’t for me. Anyway I probably would have had a heart attack gaining notoriety as the first ever to kick the bucket `zumba-ing!


`Sign in a self-service food shop in the Codswallop Valley, Oshemagoshi. DO NOT use microwave and toaster at the same time. It will throw earth out of orbit and we will plummet into the sun!”

What lovely water for racing model sailboats!

They are still active in the Turks and Caicos Islands situated 550 miles Southeast of Miami, Florida. Active with what, you might well ask? They still hold their Traditional Turks & Caicos model sailboat races on Valentines Day each year at Bambarra Beach on Middle Caicos, the event largely the brainchild of Daniel O Forbes who runs a business there. I have written about these races before which some may remember. Daniel was the Founder of the Middle Caicos Sailing Association.

Only eight of the 40 islands are inhabited and the country which is a British Overseas Territory welcomes over 200.000 visitors each year.


From my `Worry Box’ (Hey don’t you have one?)  to my Thoughts outside (another) box!  As I advance in age (Now that’s a worry deserving of a box of its own!!!)!) I am tending to do what I can today rather than tomorrow, all because I don’t know what the Worry Box will confront me with tomorrow.

It might be something small and in size hardly worth worrying about, but on the other hand it could be absolutely humongous and requiring urgent action. If that were so what I didn’t do yesterday might have to be re-boxed in another box already full of things I didn’t do the day before!  You get what I am driving at?  Tackle what you can today  for there may be no time tomorrow.

Bronze of Sir Peter by Dell Pryor

When Peter Blake was murdered by Brazilian thugs on December 6th 2001 at Macapa on the Amazon, how well I remember the massive outporing of grief in New Zealand, even moreso all the grandiose ideas that surfaced in Government, City Council officialdom and the yachting and boatbuilding communities on how best to maintain Blake’s memory in Auckland.

One suggestion for awhile appeared to be a forerunner, that of a bronze figure of Blake placed in a place of prominence looking out to sea from the area where America’s Cup boats had berthed.

Here we are eleven years after the death of Sir Peter Blake with nothing achieved in the way of a lasting honour from this country, no statue, no nuthin!  Talk about `having missed the boat’ – it irks me tremendously that people forget National heroes of the class and calibre of the late Sir Peter Blake so darn quickly.  Don’t they, don’t we?


Here’s to an amazingly talented guy in Miami, Florida! A professional builder of sandcastles, a ships-in-bottles craftsman, a builder of RC pirate ships and schooners, and a maker and supplier of model sailboat videos to You Tube.  Alas shipmates,  you will have to wait until you read the December issue the day after Christmas to meet Victor Edward Leong seen above, a new friend of the writer.

I read monthly and generally enjoy Red Bull’s so well produced magazine Red Bulletin that covers  with amazing photography in both black and white and color,  the crazy often over-the-top daring activities that fearless people on the planet get up to.

I applaud their efforts heartily but included among those men and women who flirt with serious injury and even death, must be a percentage suffering from some sort of  `loose screw’ malady, the screws usually situated within `nutters’ heads.

Hey if I can get a Red Bull cap I might even jump off the sofa!


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