by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

Misfortune for Resolution, a Tortola sloop, bugs and ducks, and 'One for the ready Two for the Go!'

As one of countless others who hold great interest and admiration in small sailing boats and sailors  who pit themselves against oceans, I was so disappointed when I heard on the idiot box that Charlie Whipple’s grand little boat, Resolution had run aground and smashed itself to smithereens on Great Barrier Island in Auckland New Zealand’s  Hauraki Gulf.

John Welsford of New Zealand, well known to Duckworks readers  had designed the 6.5m boat and Whipple, an American of Arizona had spent two and a half years building Resolution on Wellsford’s land in the Waikato region  while dreaming of sailing the really pretty little gaff-rigged yacht single-handedly around the world.  He had set out in most atrocious weather bound for Honolulu and heading up the Northland coast had discovered a fuel leak so was returning to Tauranga where the boat had been launched.  Rescued off the slippery  rocks by Westpac helicopter Whipple was saved but the yacht was destroyed, and John Welsford has told me that Charlie has a 32’ boat sitting in a Mexeco marina which he plans to overhaul, then sail it back to Japan, then around the globe and back to Japan.

Some readers may never have heard of the Tortola sloop?  I have, but then in my years in the Caribbean with BOAC (later) British Airways, I twice visited Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. I know what some of you are going to ask me next!!!  The answer is, quite honestly I don’t know!

Situated between forty and sixty miles (sources differ) East of Puerto Rico, they are home to just a few of the sloops either restored or in the process of restoration, and if you have read Marine Modelling International’s April issue last year you might remember having seen the photograph of Canadian, John Tysoe’s model of Esperanza seen top left.

Above left, two Tortola sloops in a 2004 “Tola Boat” Shootout, and above right, the Grand Dame of the British Virgin Islands, the sloop Vigilant which is over a hundred years old, now on the hard and in desparate need of repair. Once a stalwart workhorse of the Caribbean area, it is felt that she can still be saved if funds can be raised.

Those two photos courtesy of Bareboats BVI, Bareboat Sailing and Motor Yacht Charters, their live link as follows:

A send off on MO DAY!

 Chatting pondside with affable fellow, Auckland Ancient Mariner, Murray White one sailing day in April he said to me “you know I miss old Mo” to which I immediately agreed, both of us talking of the little part poodle that owned Bob and Pam Walters body and soul, On Thursdays Mo was `Rear Admiral’ (no less !) to our sailing group at Onepoto. It’s funny how dogs can win over human hearts and Mo who followed able seaman and fellow `Captain’ Bob up and down the pavement bordering the lake every Thursday was certainly no exception. He would bark at even the largest of dogs that might venture onto `his’ turf, then he would often pop up onto the table and unashamedly sprawl belly up so that we could scratch his stomach while he exposed it to the hot sun. When it was cold he would cower behind Bob’s back and that’s how Mo got the titles of both ‘Rear Admiral’ and  `Honourable Dogadore’.

What’s all this nostalgia leading to, you might well ask ?  Well, on an overcast Thursday 12th June  it was now  `MO  DAY’ whereby the Starlet’s competed in a time trial for the MO MEDALS which will possibly become an annual event, and we all enjoyed a shared lunch honouring Bob who had died that week after a lengthy illness with a minutes silence and exchanged memories of both man and dog. That’s windling for you!

Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Turning to the bigger yachts, Vincenzo Onerato of Italy helmed his Farr 40 Mascalzone Latino to a third world championship off Miami Beach, Florida on April 19th 2008 achieving a first in the sailing world, a three in a row, back to back victory. This provides me with the opportunity to show you this stunning photograph (above) for race sponsors Rolex by Kurt Arrigo.


From Fiji One to Windling World

I am glad now that I did, but how the hell did I ever get involved ?  Model yachting had never crossed my mind, that is until that day way back in time when running an island nation’s New Zealand office I visited the late Fred Marten’s home in Auckland for his views on Fiji possibly seeking to sponsor the P Class. Cut a long story short two hours later I left having agreed to sponsor the Nationals of what was then a new class of model yacht (the one metre), in addition to purchase one of these boats myself, a Bantock `Bikini’ and show my personal support and interest, by calling it Fiji Flyer.  Then came Fiji One (well Fiji was the number one destination in the Pacific then, and it was all about one metre boats !) which had a life of ten or twelve issues.


Above: Ancient Mariners early windlers.
At right, the very first issue of the magazine.

Enthusiasm can be quite contagious believe me and though the sponsorship ceased after the first seven year period while the class established itself, and though the writer got fed up with the disappointing attitudes of some over-zealous and unsportsmanlike behavior by some participants, the retention of the elegant Nationals trophy (where the hell it is now would be anybody’s guess !!) I turned to the non-competitive side of model yachting and promoted it as `windling’ a coined word of mine for model yacht cruising.

That (enthusiasm) is what probably brought me, somewhat circuitously to publishing my little magazine Windling World and to writing this column. It sometimes can be a darn strange world can’t it, one where journeys can be commenced and later go in many directions, and where ones route to the present day is not always predictable.


Firebugs and Puddle Ducks

Bugs and Ducks!  In Auckland, New Zealand the John Spencer designed Firebug is one option for either youngsters or oldsters to build and get out on the water and to enjoy sailing. With plans and all instructions available, a colour plus newsletter that will get your interest and enthusiasm levels pulsating, the Firebug (visit the website at and help is always forthcoming from Peter Tait. The other option is the Puddle Duck (PD Racer) which is something in similar vein and with a website (  that might also get some going. Indeed it is Bugs and Ducks and maybe some enterprising entrepreneur given time should consider a New Zealand/Australia Bug VS Duck Challenge Series if you can understand what I am driving at?  Easy-build either to race or simply to enjoy sailing. but you won’t be able to take Aunt Bertha, Granny, young Angus and the family dog with you for a harbour tootle, I warn you.



Imagine a guy with the name of Septimus Dimple-Crinklebottom.  I don’t know if one exists, and if perchance he did whether he is or was a model yachtsman? What the hell, and who in this impersonal world really gives a squirrel monkey’s wink anyway, so treat that brief tack as nothing more than  a wee wandering one to starboard just for the hell of it by an ageing mind.

Nowt whatsoever to do with, and in no way connected to the Australia Ancient Mariners model group are the Ancient Mariners model sailing group in Auckland, New Zealand. It is totally incorrect to say that the New Zealand group `are an associate branch’ of the club of the same name in New South Wales, Australia (as a visitor to the Auckland group from Australia says he was told by someone in the Australian club).

Young Christopher age 7 wrote about the sea and ships: `When ships had sails they used to use the trade winds to cross the ocean. Sometimes when the wind didn’t blow, the sailors would whistle to make the wind come but my brother said they would be better off eating beans!  And what about the young lad telling a lady visiting the yard where his father was busy working on his ocean-going yacht, “that’s the boat that Dad is going to circumsize the world in!”

Although an important part of model yachting, ultra-competitive racing in the organized world-body governed classes, from personal experience often gets too damn serious as to be deemed  either `relaxing ‘ or `friendship fostering’. Be that as it may, people are different and just as the pugilist enjoys punishment in the ring knowing that his puffed eyes and bleeding nose can be remedied, there will always be people who enjoy that aspect of model yacht use, or go through a period of aspiration and financial expenditure and are prepared to endure harsh words  and protests and `hearings, even damage to his yacht some eventually sliding over to the more placid and more friendly `windling’ scene.


Serious model yacht racing does however have its moments and this photograph above) (maybe by Mike Kemp, I’m not sure) taken at Fleetwood, UK  on a one metre day when the wind was blowing a right hoolie and white cap water was everywhere is a spectacular one. Cleared for my  use years ago by that lovely man, the late John Cundell who at the time edited Model Boats, it shows the `lunatic weather extremes’ that the serious and dedicated model yacht racer is often prepared to go to in pursuit of competitive edge and glory !  Had I been there  I would have proudly saluted them had I been able to get my hand up in the `force whatever’ breeze it appears to have been, in order to do have done so !


One for the READY and two for the GO! Andre Ros of The Hague Model Boat Club in the Netherlands captured this fleet of ten wee yachts (above),  a mixture of gaff and Bermudan rigged,  preparing to start and then actually on the go.  These are Klompen, the wooden shoes that farmers and fishermen used to walk on that were used by kids to make model sailing ships. They have a false keel but no radio control  and the photos were taken at Gaastmeer where they are raced with much enthusiasm.  The third photograph is of Hans Staal’s klomp that he used to use when he was a little boy which doesn’t have a false keel.


If that model in the top left photograph is two feet eight inches long then I am the new President of the United States! Mystery man Harban (remember that story?) finally sent me a photograph of (he says) one of his 28” long free-sailing models. Well, I’ve kinda worked out in the pea- sized topside unit that is my brain (and I did it all by myself mind you!) that Harban (if indeed that is his name?) is having me on, for the model of Angelina (shown) that he sent (no letter with it – the envelope posted  in Portugal!) I believe is  one of those tourist miniatures, albeit it beautifully carved in light wood and about two and a half inches long sold in fishing areas of Britain (I saw them in Cornwall.) You can judge for yourselves and I think only a picture of someone holding it would convince me otherwise. Sorry Harban but I tend not to believe thee. just a tad mind you! I really hope I am not misjudging him but let me just say, the jury is still out!

Second photo above left  - one for the kids (and adults still young at heart!)  The teddy bears River Drift…”WHO FORGOT THE MAST AND SAILS THEN…AND THE PADDLES?”

Then there is a delightful little French fishing boat, started by the late Bob Walters, and the model later, post-Bob’s passing, finished off by Ron Rule who named it the Cap’n Bobbo.  A pretty little boat without a question of doubt, yet another boat largely built by this prolific kiwi model boat builder who tells me that he’s  “NOT BUILDING ANY MORE BOATS!”


A Footy with audacity.  An unusual impromptu contest (above) with a Bantam Boats Footy out to prove superiority over a pair of kayakers. I don’t know who took what is an excellent photo and I can’t tell you whether the tiny sailboat was successful, but hopefully some will enjoy the `all action’ photograph.

In the third and fourth photographs is Auckland Ancient Mariner windler, Derek Nicholson’s new schooner, the Fife, Cicely sailing at Onepoto. He built it after seeing South Carolina’s Andrew Charters model of the same boat a few years ago in Windling World.


Finally, this magnificent 1812 style American Privateer schooner is the work of Robert Franklin (alias Captain Crash!)) of  the Montgomery Model Boat Club in Montgomery, Alabama, USA. This informally structured club, founded in 2007 mainly sail Nirvana sailboats which cost under US$200 and they have 17 such boats in the fleet.  Members also sail a variety of other boats, both power and sail. Their comprehensive website is worth a visit, go to



I‘ll probably  have another offering for you next month,  but in this my 75th year, life instead of getting easier is getting more challenging, and continued appearance of the column  regularly makes me question its future. I started writing for the newspapers in British Guiana at age 12 as well as producing a little magazine, each copy hammered out on an old Underwood typewriter for a few friends even earlier That effort (The Junior Sports Club Magazine) was produced said typewriter (PLIP!  PLOP!  PLAP!) over two days while ill at home, seated in my pyjamas on the side of my bed. As simple as that… PYJAMA PUBLISHING,  my very first  `publishing company’ was born!  Sixty- nine years on,  a future of `anything’ is always questionable.



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