by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

Many Britannia’s, multi-hulling, a schooner called Trinovante and a writer still voyaging on the `sea of time’.

First things first, let me wish you all a very happy New Year. May 2009 be a happy and healthy year for all of you and for your families.  A bit of knowledge for you, those who don’t already know.   One of the most famous ponds for model yacht sailing is Redds Pond in Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA  (shown above). The Marblehead model yacht has its origins at Redds Pond where it was introduced in 1930


Britannia by Phil

Bill Letten boats above and at right

Not to be confused with the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Royal Cutter commissioned by the Prince of Wales in 1892 was a sailing boat twenty-three metres long with a mast fifty metres high.  Successful particularly in her first season when she scored 33 victories out of 43 races in which she started, she also beat the 1893 America’s Cup winner Vigilant in British waters.After the death of King Edward VII she was raced by King George V whose dying instruction was for the yacht to follow him to his grave and in 1936, Britannia was scuttled near the Isle of Wight.

An exceptional RC sailing model of Britannia was made by Scotsman, Sandy Cousins with whom I had the pleasure of communicating for several years prior to his passing and the photograph of Sandy in naval attire with the model above (which I have used before) was sent to me by him, as was the one of the model under sail.

Enter Bill Letten who in the 2006-2007 period built multiple models of the famous yacht which featured in the December 2007 issue of Marine Modelling International.  Sandy Cousins plans for the model (Plan Ref MAR253O) are still available from Traplet Plans Service. Several photos Letten’s versions  are shown above as well as another fine model of the boat by Phil Anstiss of Britain whose model at 97” long  is also shown above.



A famous Logan New Zealand yacht

Model builder and owner, Hugh Hobden

RAINBOW  is a famous New Zealand built yacht launched in November 1898 and built by Logan and Sons. Rainbow was considered his absolute masterpiece and still sails today.

Hugh Hobden of the Christchurch Model Yacht Club, the oldest model yacht club in New Zealand, a few years ago undertook the challenging build of a sailing model of the cutter that dominated the racing scene in New Zealand for a great many years, later shipped to Australia where she also excelled and was victorious over the Fife designed White Wings.

Hugh’s model was built upside down with the planks glued to the keel, stem and transom and he found cedar an idea timber. The model was finished with varnished upper hull and decks and is an absolute delight to sail.


Some years back I toyed semi-seriously with naming a new yacht
LAUD OF DA POND but gave up the idea as it sounded  too pompous.
Any of you consider yourselves pompous? Use the name, no charge!


For no other reason than to offer photographic evidence to readers that the writer of this monthly column was once young and handsome, and to share a bit of personal nostalgia, the above was taken in British Guiana before the ravages of time took their toll. But Ah – what fun the young lad was to enjoy on his journeys o’er the many oceans of learning, of adventure, growth and experience that then lay ahead. The `Sea of Time’ on which he eventually travelled was to bring him a great many memories of the happy kind. I guess the message is, enjoy the journeys that make up your life!

There’s always plenty of it about and I am not speaking of what the bulls deposit on the paddocks of our farming country. There’s also a book about everything there is  on this planet we live on, even bullshit! In the foreword to his book, Harry G Frankfurt writes: `One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.’

I have always `fessed up’ that in many of my articles I have occasionally thrown in a bit of the stuff, (bullshit or if you prefer, fakery) just for fun and to keep  my columns both spirited and light-hearted. The jury is still out deciding whether all of my articles fall into that classification in their entirety!


Heard on the Wireless 

Heard on the Wireless, that a bespectacled African dictator is to implant microchips in every Zimbabwe Citizen’s brain and then control them using model yachting style transmitters with same frequency crystals. He got the idea while sailing an RC coconut husk boat in the private pool of his `palace’ in Harare. His protective thugs are also to be implanted with receiver chips in their brains (eh???) so that he can control them.


Walking on water, fishing and windling
and photographing the mythical Mon-Tah.

When Auckland, New Zealand’s Onepoto sailing pond flooded last year, a few brave Ancient Mariner windlers still came down to sail. Murray White in the red jacket proved he could walk on water, keep his balance and sail his Starlet Southern Cross at the same time, and he and Ron Rule sailed and fished for eels convinced in their theory that eels respond to radio frequencies in RC transmitters.

The writer took the photos while they caught nothing and was plain lucky to get a shot of the often believed to be mythical and seldom seen goose man, Mon Tah, said to inhabit the nearby  mangroves who groans constantly, walks backwards and views the world through eyes in the back of his head.

See, I can walk on water!

Windling and eel bamboozling!

Mon Tah the Goose Man

last sighted in 1674


Multihulls high and low

Courtesy: Tornado Sport/Tommy Hilfiger

Multihull excitement!   In the real world, in the Extreme 40 Sailing Series 2008 iShares Cup, Tommy Hilfiger pitchpoles spectacularly on the second day in Hyeres, France (top left) while in the second photograph, the model racing trimaran, Granny’s Chair has totally flipped, drowned Granny and downsided itself at Onepoto lagoon in Auckland. Even in model guise, these things move fast and can become difficult to keep upended.


A schooner to excite you!

An exciting 3 masted gaff-rigged schooner is  the 80’ long Trinovante and I somehow feel that the photos of her reproduced here kind courtesy of her owners may well serve the purpose of creating a spark of interest to ship modelers in our midst, for she would certainly be an RC  sailing model worth creating.

Operated by Schoonersail at Southend On Sea, Essex on the East Coast of England, Trinovante takes 8 persons at a time on ocean cruises to a range of different and exciting areas of the world such as the Norwegen Fjords, the Arctic Circle, the Netherlands and offshore UK, even providing the opportunity to take part in Tall Ship races. With her red sails, Trinovante is indeed a stunning looking vessel. Those on cruises aboard her can also see the Fairisle Puffins.


Jim Bennett of Blackpool, England, a member of the Fleetwood Model Boat Club has built a 1/32, 68” long sailing model of the 28 Gun HMS Liverpool, partly visible in this photograph sent to me. I have never been able to get a photograph of her sailing, so enjoy this one anyway – it is the best I can do


After 93 days at sea and having covered the 28,329 000 mile journey Frenchman Jean Pierre Dick and Irishman Damien Foxall crossed the finishing line at Barcelona on February 11th  last year aboard  Paprec – Virbac 2 (top left) to win the first edition non-stop, two handed Barcelona World Race for the IMOCA Open 60’s.  (Photo by Chris Cameron/DPPI/Barcelona World Race)

In another photo by Chris Cameron, Temenos II is seen leaving Wellington after a pit stop on Day55 when lying third 2,639 nautical miles from the leading boat. while in the last photo is seen one of the eventual retirees, the Spanish boat Estrella Damm sponsored by the brewery of that name and certainly one of the most attractive and colourful boats in the fleet of nine that started.

I am always fascinated by and get a huge charge out of yachts that go ocean racing, the smaller the yacht the better, sailed by men of belief in their own ability, great seamanship and immense courage and willingness to battle huge seas and often perilous weather conditions as they race each other across the oceans of the world.  Now that’s yacht racing!


A quartet  for quiet reading

Four  nautical reads’ (books read within the last year), were Voyages that changed the world (by Peter Aughton) – a book of  208 pages, The day they sailed for the `Not the America’s Cup’  (a short account of an impromptu battle on a Sheffield, UK  pond with Albert Strange designed model yawls) and Three Years in a 12-Foot Boat by Stephen G. Ladd.. (The book on the model yacht race has already sold out! Then again as I have said before, you mustn’t always take as gospel every single thing you read in this column!)   I am not a politician and unlike most of those, I like to make people think and wonder while not expecting everything I say or write to be absolutely true!  The fourth book which I read (for the third time)  was Swirly World, by one-time kiwi rock star, Andrew Fagan. I found it an excellent read but I don’t know if it is still available. If it is, I think some might enjoy it.  I also took time out to read Voyages that changed the world by Peter Aughton but I found it hard going. It is a great and large book and appears well researched, but somehow it just didn’t hold my attention.


Dennis Lake with his Starlet

Left, Tony Watling with his Footy, Gracie

Dennis Lake of Auckland in New Zealand is a quiet, quite delightful Ancient Mariner RC sailor, a real `salt of the earth’ type of guy always willing to offer his services to fellow sailors in launching and retrieving of their own boats despite his own not-too-good health.  One of three boats he sails is Argus, a lovely little schooner and he also sails a Roy Lake built Smeed Starlet called Tusi Tala which he immaculately maintains. He is one of our surviving four members of the Last of the Summer Winers windling group of five who used to sail at a private Sinton Road artificial lake in the grounds of a residence in Auckland.

Tony Watling of Wainuiomata, Wellington, New Zealand sails his Footy  Gracie at Avalon pond  located  near to the Television New Zealand facility and is on the committee of the Greater Wellington Marine Model Club. He is 82 years young and enjoys his sailing despite his `dicky ticker’ woes and friendship with friend of the old, `Arthur Itis.’ ailments.  The final photograph above shows friend Hans Staal of the Netherlands with his traditionally Dutch Wieranger Aak.


In memory of!  No longer with us, hull shaper Benjamin Clobberchisel  Snr who had his head flattened in an accident  by a hammer wielded by model yacht shipyard owner, employer and expert craftsman (Accurate too!)  Derek Nicholson of Kumeu, New Zealand.  “He was chiselling in the wrong place at the wrong time” an upset  Nicholson  is reported to have said to the Coroner!

Look out in the February issue for some truly stunning photos of model yachts taken so close you can almost feel the spray on your face.  Up close low and personal by several amateur photographer/model sailboaters will inspire shutterbugs and ship modelers. Wanna bet?


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

To comment on Duckworks articles, please visit our forum