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

 WTWB  December 2012

Three masted Bluenose style on the run, sails tucked well in

A boat in an a bottle Black Pearl heads out to sea

One of several pirate vessels in the lagoon.

During a period of `idea fossicking’ on the internet, I chanced upon a website that had a couple or three images of nautical items created by a chap called Victor Edward Leong, then spent about two to three weeks on and off as a `detective’ trying to make contact, with the objective of doing a story on him and his art for this column.

As I was to discover, Victor who lives in Miami, Florida indulges in many different areas of art from Ships in bottles where he has made over one thousand since 1989 which he successfully sells through shops in both Miami and Naples, to elaborate sandcastle building far distant from the simple `poured out buckets of sand’ stuff, to RC and other ship modeling, some used  in the making of videos several of which you can see on YouTube.

A breezy blast up the pond

Southern sand Fort The candlelit castle
Readying another of his schooners I am a pirate man!

Black Black Pearl
almost beached

He has built several versions of pirate ships ever since the film Pirates of the Caribean was released and he became `hooked’, as well as  several schooners including a triple masted gaff rigged boat and other model craft. Victor’s interest in modeling led him to hit the beach and develop the art of creating grand sandcastles that now provide him with the means to continue as a dedicated self-employed artist, the sand structures built kind of plank on frame style and illuminated by candles placed within for effect when darkness falls and judging generally takes place. For effect he often dresses in pirate gear for pirate-oriented functions in Miami.

Before we move onwards in this months column, play and enjoy the following video of one of Victor's model pirate ship, the Black Pearl on the pond to the music of `I am a pirate man' by David Wise'.

The Evalina M Goulart is a historic New England fishing schooner, one of the last four examples built in the area until about 1936 and is shown above in an array of composite photos.  The historic schooner is 83’ long and was built in the Story Shipyard, much later on in time, and after severe damage by a hurricane, she was donated to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. Whether the vessel will ever be fully restored is uncertain. She was featured on the cover of my friend Bob Hicks magazine Messing about in boats way back in 1991

Santa Maria Manuela

Early last year, tall ship afficianado that I appear to have become, I discovered   a Portuguese 1937 built 4 masted gaff schooner built in Lisbon that has now become a sail-training vessel.  Santa Maria Manuela upon launch was put into service as a fishing vessel until 1978 when her masts were removed leaving her abandoned until 2006 when Pascoal   the fish exporters bought her. She is (I think) an absolutely stunning looking tall ship without a shadow of a doubt..

Everybody at some time in their life goes `ing –ing’ and activities on the water include swim,ing, diving, racing,  cruising,  sailing, wind surfing rowing, paddling and canoeing, and (unless I’m wrong) if you stick a sail in a canoe you’ve got canoodling which for others who enjoy bastardising the Queen’s English might refer to as `canoedling! This lapstrake canoe owner above is doing just that. (Now thanks to INGIPEDIA you know!)

Marine Modelling International Weathering
Challenge didn’t exactly fire but…

Low in numbers but extremely high in quality' would be the best way to sum up the Weathering Challenge. It was just a year after the Smallest Schooner Challenge and really too soon for another, but as several people wanted a follow-up (and after many unsuitable ideas, I came up with a `weathering' theme, Marine Modelling International (Italics) though not entirely convinced, nonetheless fronted up with three one- year-long subscriptions.

Kelson Mills Muscogus Bay lobster smack Lisa Won for him the Junior Modeller award of a subscription To Marine Modelling International

In particular I was very impressed with the quality weathering of sixteen year old Kelson Mills of Washington, USA and his 12” long Muscongus Bay lobster smack Lisa (shown above) a credit to his weathering skills.

Tim Mayer of Brunswick, Maine seen working on Caribean coaster entry Sun of Jamaica (Italics) won the Power Boat Class

Kelson Mills holding the lobster smack model, the Hull built bread and butter style

Tim Mayer's Caribbean Coaster SUN OF JAMAICA is operational and wired with running and deck lights

David Squires of Northumberland in UK build his version Of
the Black Pearl and was the SAIL Class winner

David Squires also entered this Vic Smeed deign Bustler tug in the Power Boat class

Weathering aboard the Black Pearl from David Squires

Tim Mayers SUN OF JAMAICA moored upriver Beside another trawler

David Squires of Northumberland, UK took the sail powered class with an ever-popular (it seems) Black Pearl from `Pirates of the Caribbean’ with crew aboard which was based on the Zvezda plastic kit which he says was a submarine. It was extensively weathered and he sent several close-up photos of the weathered areas.

The powered boat class victor was Tim Mayer of Brunswick in Maine who chose to kit bash a 1/90 (HO) scale Lindberg North Atlantic trawler, cleverly modified it with RC working running lights and deck lights for a Caribbean Coaster and called it Sun of Jamaica which he will motor around his little garden pool to be fitted out with a floating diorama dock area, and all he will need then is a bottle of Jamaica Coruba rum mon! His weathering of the model, particularly on the hull (see photo above), the detail he included and the good photos sent impressed at least three judges.

My thanks to those who entered and especially to Marine Modelling International (and Duckworks also for their space support)

It didn’t set the universe on fire and we will leave that to the lunatics with nuclear power and their fingers on the red buttons!  However we tried and I don’t mind making the tea for a couple of years for the staff at Marine Modelling in UK, and it goes without saying, also washing the dishes!

I should add that there were other entries unaccepted because they were too large to comply with the size set in the rules, and although not one of the judging panel myself but having seen all the entries, I commend the judges on the decisions taken. Thanks to Hans Berger for all his help in collecting and forwarding the entries, to Harry Duncan who built the dory Dora Starr, to Chuck Leinweber of Duckworks Magazine who provided promotional space, and largely to Marine Modelling International , the main sponsor who donated the awards.

Jimmy (wearing his `cargo pants') enjoying a quiet sail. 

Those involved in ship modeling in the UK, Europe and the US who knew of and/or may have corresponded with Jimmy James would have been sad to hear of his passing  in Britain on 10th July. He was a friend and somewhat of a modeling mentor for many model sailboat builders, and acclaimed as one of the nicest and most helpful of people in this hobby that we all share.

Thanks to a few people including Robert Crome, Secretary of Kings Lynn Model Boat Club in Norwich, England, Malcolm Howard of the same club who was in touch with Jimmy’s family and who gathered all the information, and Martin Davis who produces that excellent online publication, Model Boat Mayhem, I am able on behalf of all to pay brief tribute to Jimmy who died at age seventy.

I did not know Jimmy James only knew of him and strangely enough just mere days before his death I had written to him  expressing my interest in doing an article on him for Duckworks Magazine, but this was not the kind of article I had in mind.

Jimmy James at right with Ron Deane of Deans Marine (left) and Martin Davis of Model Boat Mayhem (centre) and one of Jimmy's models.

17th century 3 masted ship

Jimmy's pirate ship Freebooter

Jimmy loved the water

Born in Mitcham, Surrey, in 1942 he was said to be a mischief maker at school whp blew up the Science lab while attempting to make gunpowder. From a young age he always loved the sea and even sailed the Florida Keys as a young boy at 16 joining the American Navy. Later taking two years off to go tramping he visited Nova Scotia and then fished in Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

On his return to England  Jimmy joined the Merchant Navy and travelled the world attaining the rank of Second Officer and then became a certificated Master Mariner and had a Masters Certificate for various ships.

Jimmy was also involved in the Discovery Channel Titanic Expedition in 1998 and was a professional diver and also had a wealth of knowledge about sailing ships and rigging, helping to re-rigg the Cutty Sark tea clipper. His other interests included painting and he became known for always carrying lots of junk around and according to his wife she was convinced that Jimmy invented   `cargo pants’.

Upon retirement he took up model boating and on Sundays and Thursdays after spending the mornings at the pond with his mates it was time for a cup of tea or a pint at the local pub. On his 70th birthday he took the family to the Bahamas and sailed a catamaran around the groups of islands, ran it aground once and became known as Captain Chaos.

Well that’s about it for this year on a monthly basis. There will be a January issue and then this column will appear just four times ie in March, June, September and December posted online around the 26th of each of those months. That will give me a bit of time to forage for material to be included, and to catch my breath so to speak.

The fleet of Graupner Micro Magic's Strung out one behind the other (Jonathan Cox photo)

Can you imagine a lovelier setting?

The bird is in a separate class and out of control with steering problems!

Not Jonathan Cox who took all the photos) but Frank Butler, keen sailor and information provider.

In Marine Modelling International’s May issue I read an article by Frank Butler  (An alternative way to race RC yachts) and could not help thinking of the Hartsholme Electric Model Boat Club’s social fun yacht racing and the similiarity  in some ways to our Ancient Mariners . Don’t get confused by the word `electric’ – the club does have members who sail tugs and electric motor powered boats separate to the yacht racing crowd.

Never mind (Oh yes, and the Ancient Mariners  don’t `race’ as such,its just casual cruising (windling) interspersed with social chat and much friendly `how’s your father’ banter while we sail or `parade’ which looks at times like racing but isn`t.

At the Hartsholme club on a lake venue in a country Park in  Lincolnshire. It is not ultra serious racing, as far as I can gather but they do race Graupner  racing version Micro Magic yachts  and there is a scoring system and they do have a championship series, one where they don’t abuse each other and sailing is decidedly laid back and competitive yet casual in style.

Seventy six year old Frank Butler who helped me with information is also a keen model sailor (and Jason, before you ask me I will tell you that this group don’t name their boats – yes they are another fleet of model yachts with no names! and that’s Okay for they are happy with it.)

Challenge Cup winner Mandy Cox

They have a lady Champion as well and that’s an interesting point, Mandy Cox (above) won the Challenge Cup last year and is current points leader at the moment this year. On Saturday afternoons they have a regatta that are primarily a fun event with no attention paid to the Rule Book other than basic rules covering the start with a sixty second recorded countdown to the sounding of the starters gun, and that all yachts must pass outside of the buoys.

It’s a serious matter laughing

You now, the older we old sticks get we ought to laugh more, rib each other as we do in our weekly Ancient Mariners sailing mornings in Auckland, New Zealand, share jokes, tell outlandish `porkies’ feel better in the knowledge that all of us have some ache or ailment and enjoy a type of camaraderie that soothes the soul. 

We have lived most of our lives and now it is `enjoyment of quality time’ sailing our model sailboats and it is time to laugh heartily at each other, at life and at those on the highways trying to get to work, then find a parking space. We have been there and done all that, on occasions worked ourselves up to a frazzle and now that we are in the `departure  lounge’ of our lives, let us enjoy it and laugh heartily – it is said that a regular good laugh can do wonders for one’s health.


My nautical-minded US designer pal, Irwin Schuster in Florida has designed a kids `make and take’ 6.5” overall sailing dinghy model made of rugged waterproof material for the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez where exhibits focus on the Florida Gold Coast’s maritime heritage.

The model is a cartoon version of the Cortez Sprits’l Skiff and has a foam hull. The design involved working out a simple scheme incorporating a jib, and plans are to set up a 2 x 10 polytarp pool at the museum for kids to sail the boats in.  Schuster who is extremely well known in the area designed a similar but less graphically `sophisticated’ vessel Constituent for the USS Constitution Museum a number of years ago.



It has been a few years since I met Andrew Fagan after which I read his book Swirly World, the Solo voyages, not once by twice and both times enjoying it immensely.

The little boat is only 5.2 metres in length and in those early days was painted a sort of pea green, prompting the writer to headline an earlier article on Fagan in Windling World `Muso in a pea green boat. The winds and waters of the Auckland Islands are often sudden and unpredictable, ever-changing in intensity from strong with gales and storms, the seas from choppy to waves that can be humungously high and downright dangerous. Even large ships with passengers visiting there roll in the incoming and outgoing flows of water in the lagoons, and it is indeed a credit to man and a boat so small that braved and stood up to such conditions, proving that as a team that they are formidable adventurers.

Taken some years ago, the two sons of  Andrew & Karyn
aboard SW in a North Shore bay

Built of plywood and chine construction in 1973 by a somewhat eccentric man called Michael Brien who founded his Church of Physical Immortality, this little pocket-sized wonder is one tough cookie that has been with Fagan for the years that followed after he purchased her from Brien.

Even when Fagan and his family lived on a houseboat on the Thames in England, he always nurtured a desire to one day sail SW to the islands mentioned and now that it has been done, this book is all about it, the story so well told and so detailed that I was able to almost feel the wind and the spray as well as the cramped confines of the cabin, and that  my friends adds up to good storytelling.


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