By Mark Steele
Auckland - New Zealand

Over the last three years or so it has come to me rather forcibly largely due to the sudden passing of friends, that `collections’ of whatever people choose to collect for their personal pleasure, cannot be taken with them when, (in nautical parlance) they have slipped anchor for the very last time. (Holy Mainbrace! now you tell me! Silly me, I have for seventy years always believed that one could!)

Invariably there is also another problem, that of what remaining spouses, children or relatives must then do with the collections which I shall now simply refer to as `stuff’.

I knew of a guy, an absolute lunatic partner of a lady with whom I once worked, who owned nothing except the clothes he walked in, one change of clothes and a pair of shoes which he threw away whenever he bought a new pair and a beat-up old Morris car.  He had no interests other than his small carpet business and collected nothing whatsoever, not even the frying pan with which he would frequently violently belt the lady over the head (in her house that he shared). There is one that will not have to worry about what will happen to any of his things when he goes!

click here to enlarge

`The Old sailor never completely slips anchor, as long as his boat

continues to be sailed with his spirit safely aboard’

Mark Steele

Quite often, surviving children, even adult ones these days are not in the case of model yachts even vaguely interested in collector stuff. The young are into computers, girlfriends, the latest in mobile telephones, iPods and  text-sending, and like my adult grandsons are understandably busy at University in order to put them in good stead for their futures. Who can blame them? 

Even my far from priceless but nonetheless extensive collection of diecast Ferrari and other cars are for the time being `stored’ for there is nobody to pass them over to, and selling `the stuff’ on the internet is fraught with doubts and fears and other difficulties. I could I suppose prove everyone wrong and take the bulk of those with me, the `stuff’ stuffed within my casket, but then who the hell would be able to lift it! Chances are that the Mortician would probably remove them and flog them off before cremation anyway, leaving me to `burn with anger’ with a firm intent to come back and haunt the bastard  who had the audacity to pinch my Ferraris!

Now model yachts present a greater what do you do with them when… problem. I started off with just one which is normal for most `collecting’ people who collect `stuff’, added another two or four (classic style yachts can be as luring and addictive as women), not that I speak from experience on women mind you, then other model yacht windlers started giving me another two or three here and there.

A dear friend-never-met in California, Lloyd `Swede’ Johnson, all because I `admired’ his Pinky schooner in a magazine that I was publishing, rang me one day and said I should expect the boat which he had despatched by airfreight in a large box.  I wish I had taken a photo of the box that it arrived in as I could have captioned it `Collecting my casket!’  I love Running Tide  but it taught me a lesson and reminded me that I should never again write in complimentary vein to anyone `that I admired his wife’, lest some good lady arrive suddenly as a `gift’.

That’s another problem I have, I can only get one boat in our little Honda `Jazz’ at one time, add that to the back problem that I am saddled with, where lifting boats in and out of the water is difficult,  unless they are liftable by the mast or masts – I just hate to impose, even accept kind offers from other sailing friends more than just occasionally.

‘Swede’s’ Running Tide still sails beautifully in Auckland, New Zealand and when my fellow Ancient Mariner’ friend, Bob Walters was alive I `leased’ the Pinky to him with just a handshake on a  solely verbal,  no cash parted gentlemens agreement so that the schooner could be used more frequently. “If you die before I do” I told Bob, “it comes back to me, and if I die before you do then its yours and you can do what you want with it!”  Bob died in mid June 2008 and I gave the `gift boat’ to  another Ancient Mariner and close friend of his and mine, Ron Rule who re-launched her on a nice day in August this year. That’s what I like to think the original deed of gift is all about, one based on  friendship which I think `Swede’ would understand.

click here to enlarge The Pinky schooner RUNNING TIDE with the late Bob Walters.

“What did you do with the Drunken Sailor “  I might well ask of a Barbadian sort of `uncle’ of mine were he still alive?  I well remember Tommy having a really lovely and well sculpted clay ornament of an inebriated looking  sailor about sixteen or seventeen inches high.  “That’s Errol from Oistins (a fishing village)” he told me when I last stayed with him. .It was just an item and not part of a collection, but it was probably snapped up for a just a few dollars when his `stuff’ was auctioned and who knows, it may not have found a good owner and might well have now suffered breakage and been chucked out. And what about  my Jasper, smaller in size and gifted to me by another model yacht sailor, John Butterwith in England. Where will he go  I wonder, when someone has to dispose of all the `stuff’ that I will leave to be disposed of  when I have crossed the bar?  Stick him in the box with me if nobody wants him!

Ghosting along sailed by the writer click here to enlarge

Both friend Ron and I believe that RC model yachts were built to be sailed and with all the work put into them I would hate to see them just stuck on a mantelpiece or end up in an auction and sold for whatever could be realized. They don’t `store’ well either and tend to be dust collectors and I am a sentimental  old bugger and would rather they be given away to people whom I know will sail and enjoy them after I have gone.

Life we know is full of problems which all vanish when the anchor that holds us to this earth is finally slipped, but what will happen to my model yachts and model cars, my stamps, my father’s football medals and other `stuff’, and who will take care of Jasper the drunken sailor?

To comment on Duckworks articles, please visit our forum