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

WTWB  March 2013

First things first, just another reminder that this column is now quarterly instead of monthly, main reason a lack of material and too much of an effort to fossick for news on model sailboats and also because of my advancing years and commitments with other Publications.

Never mind the breezes still blow and the winds of the world are still free so build or buy a model sailing ship and head for your pond, lake or river, and you will open up a whole new world of pleasure.

Derek with Spirit of New Zealand model while holding
the Great Schooner Model Society trophy.

photo by Richard Gross

Derek Nicholson of Auckland's Ancient Mariners sailing group is an amazing man and a talented model sailing ship builder who continues to amaze many with his productivity of beautiful sailing boats that he emerges with at the Onepoto pond every so often.

I have written about some of his boats before and featured several in my columns over the years, and it is always a delight when he comes down with a new one. What is even more amazing is that just a few years ago Derek suffered a minor stroke and although he recovered fairly quickly and shows no visible signs, he is still unable to read yet his ship modeling is as sharp as ever. A truly delightful and ever-helpful-to-others and a delightful quiet gentleman, Derek is an absolute asset to our sailing group and a good friend of many.

Spirit of New Zealand coming in after an early cruise on Onepoto lake

The Captain preparing the brigantine to set sail

Flirting with a sudden gust of wind

Deck detail and crew at work. Photos by Richard Nicholson, Derek Nicholson, Ron Rule and the writer

His latest (well at the time of writing it is) an RC model of the Spirit of New Zealand tall ship has been beautifully built and is a delight to passers by at the pond whenever the impressive Brigantine is selected to sail. The original, still in regular service and seen below,is a 148'steel built, square-rigged on the foremast ship that is operated by a Trust Board as a New Zealand Charity that runs an ongoing youth development programme on board the vessel.

The real Spirit of New Zealand sailing near
West Harbour, North Island of New Zealand

Mal Nicholson's restored 1926 Humber Super Sloop
back on the waters of England

The Spider T is a beautifully restored 62' Humber Super sloop launched in 1926, a big old working boat owned and restored by Mal Nicholson whose other passion is dealing in classic racing cars.

Among the achievements to date, Spider T was the first Humber sloop to cross the North Sea directly since before World War II and she took part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. She has also sailed to Scotland and Rotterdam and has covered 10,000 nautical miles since her restoration from being salvaged as a wreck to what she is today.

Owner Mal Nicholson (left) with Hartley who built the model

Based at Keadby Lock in Lincolnshire, the vessel is available for business or Corporate events and before you wonder where guests would be feted aboard. Her former cargo hold below is now a wonderfully comfortable saloon. if I manage to get further details I'll do a story on a nice RC model of the sloop. Meanwhile you might enjoy looking at the Spider T website

Tim Mayer's model of the sloop Therapy

Nice lines of the Friendship

Elegant tiller for the helmsman

Just look at the mast and rigging detail!

Tim Mayer who lives in Maine, USA, some readers may remember was the winner of the Powered Boat class in the `Weathering' Challenge some months ago. What a few others may not be aware of, is that Tim is a highly skilled ship modeller who produced the excellent model of the Friendship sloop seen above.

The model Tim scratch built for a friend of his who is a local doctor, is one for display purposes, as opposed to either freesail or radio-control sailing. The cuddy or cabin is furnished, the model is beautifully rigged, and the builder has created a wonderful and elegant tiller. The Friendship model is 42" long.

Although he builds more powered boats, Tim Mayer admits to being a sailboat aficionado and has built several sailing boat models over the years, and it is Interesting to learn that he is now working on another sailing ship model, this one of a Clipper around the 1800's, a George Steer design called Sunny South.

Towards completion, whenever the `spirit' moveth the man!

Cresting a northbound Cook Strait roller

It is worth recalling this, an ocean crossing by a New Zealand RC model yacht. In 1998 somewhat of an epic crossing of the oft-notorious Cook Strait that separates New Zealand's North and South Islands took place, the late Euan Sarginson's 1950's A class RC boat William Fraser conquering the 25 nautical mile stretch of water on March 27th.

That the two meter in length model was made some twenty-two years ago and was never intended for big-sea water makes the feat more astonishing. She spent her life up to 1998 as a vane model and was given new sails and converted to RC for the crossing attempt. Conditions expected included morning sea fog, strong winds from the SE and a sea described in the forecast as a `confused' one.

A small shark investigation

After a night aboard the `mother ship' (the 38' keeler Taurewa II) owned and skippered by William Lee the model was lowered into the sheltered waters of Cook Strait and from the outset sailed well hard on the wind on a course plotted and checked on the GPS as the inter-island ferries made regular appearances in both directions. On the way towards Wellington a jib stay on the model was to break requiring Hugh Hobden to hang over the side precariously to effect repairs, and a bizarre `investigation' by a small shark midway indicated it's confused mind as to whether the model was worth `meeting' or `mating' with.

Several wind fluctuations in the Strait, a battery change to the model and the non-appearance of predicted big seas, and a tide that threatened to take the boat back to the South island, the model was finally hauled aboard the keeler in the shadow of Pencarrow light close inshore to Wellington just before 6pm. Just as well for twenty four hours later a tropical cyclone blasted through the very area.

The report was made available by Hugh Hobden which enabled the writer to do this story and the photos are by the late Euan Sarginson. A memorable effort by members of the Christchurch Model Yacht Club.

It is nice to sometimes look back and recall` happenings' of past years involving members departed, some still present and the models they sailed.

"Roll me over, Roll me over, Oh my darling Clementine,
You'll be gone and gone forever. Down below in frothy brine"

Wait for the arguments, the dissention, the protests and maybe even the eventual return of the America's Cup contenders to the courts in order to settle matters when racing the ultra-fast, often unmanageable multi-hulls.

Wait also for the frequent mighty spectacular `flying of the hulls', the tip-ups and capsizes, the collisions caused by the unexpected angle of some waves and high winds, boats banging into each other and the damage received, the intensity of syndicate anger, and the injuries to crew hit about the body as they charge around the boats between ropes and shrouds like demented ultra-confused acrobats!

They are impressive boats that will impress many people I am sure, having said that much, I simply add `bring back the monohulls!'

An`orrible Oracle October!

Big boats, big money and much at stake will make up the recipe for a regrettable further ruination of the once time-honoured event, brought about by two rich people. What happened on 17th October? ORACLE's $10 million AC 72 trimaran pitch-poled and went stern over bow near the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, sustaining extensive damage. (see poor quality photograph above) I believe that these boats have not yet proved themselves stable when the wind comes up, end of story).

I just can't see any sense whatsoever in it, but then they have already screwed up the AC anyway so what's another box of screws between enemies and conveniently labeled `friends?'.

`Computers are now so damn advanced they can beat people at chess, but not at either boxing or wrestling' ANON


I missed out on the Apple I5 Iphone. so I `updated' at my fruit shop with the less expensive but more recent (in that it was picked in the orchard that very morning!) `Apple of my eye Six' which lets me make six different calls at the same time, watch six TV channels all screening crap, play six games as well take photographs. I can also call the Prime Ministers of up to six countries on direct lines as well and it even comes with a fresh juicy New Zealand-grown red apple! BEAT THAT!


"We are here on earth to do good unto others. What the others are here for, I have no idea!" W.H Auden


Finally, another bit of exciting availability news' from Seaworthy Small Ships, George & Marla Surgent's business in Maryland, USA, who can supply you with a kit from which you could easily build the gorgeous, semi-scale 12" long overall hull model of a skipjack shown above.

Cost is $38.95 US dollars (Shipping not included) and a visit to the website will provide you with information on all of their products, then BINGO! you will be hooked. Use the free link below, it is as easy as that!



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