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Photo of writer by Graeme Ogier, photo of boats by Lesseps

June 2013

Chuck Leinweber, Publisher and Editor of Duckworks and I are proud to bring you this new `double whammy' in both size and content column, as I feel that the old column has perhaps become a bit stale and needs to be spiced up in content to include the other relaxation interests of people. Model yachting will probably splutter somewhat, and I believe no longer enjoy the growth that it has been experiencing, for it is just one part of peoples lifestyles, often these days well and truly intermingled with a host of other `passions’ by those who build sail and enjoy small and large boats.’

As you will soon note, the column remains focussed on model yachts, but since people are the key ingredient in our hobby, we must open our minds and not become entirely myopic, and we must think outside  the box. In doing so we will have `sum funz’ promises Marcella Gabriella Punta (shown below) one of our new writers.

In addition there is Oskar Theraux, who in Brazil was known, as `The Mouse’ an intrepid traveler and scribbler who sails his 12” long Footy Sea Shanty in his bathtub and his 40’ yacht made of compressed cardboard called Geronimo  offshore.  An accomplished photographer, deepsea diver and said to be among the best in the world at the oft deadly, hardly ever spoken of, game of dinkerydipperytippling,  he was born in French Guiana and claims that when he was a young boy he showed Charrière who was known as Papillon where to hide one night in Cayenne. Oskar is the author of the best selling book, Bullshit tales of the poor and  famous published by Bleepday Publications now out of print. That of course is all rubbish for she and he are both me. I’ve warned you before about believing everything you read in anything anywhere!

Marcella Gabriella Punta
"I thought I was the mouse"

Oscar (`The Mouse') Theraux, photographer, sailor and author

Some may take awhile to get used to the  inclusion of 'non-model sailboat’ content, but `Hey’  (as the line in the song says…`I never promised you a rose garden’).  After the December issue comes out,  you can vote and tell Chuck what you think, for at the moment, due to health problems I may only be in it for the short-haul, which is the end of December this year. (It may well be that one of you readers might aspire to the job of new `writer at large’ and assembler of the whole caboodle.)  

Whole Caboodle - What a choice name for a model yacht, so long of course that it has all the bells and whistles!

I looked up in the sky way so high and
there was the Gundaroo flying,
two billionaires said (or so I had read)
`it would happen’ but I thought they were lying.
I took off my glasses and we got off our asses
“Goodness Gracious (I yelled) That’s Fantastic!”
then Oskar shouted out while spilling his Stout,

Al Straub with his two Bobcat Footy boats

Al Straub, of Ann Arbor,Michigan, after seeing a Footy produced and sailed  in New Zealand by Ancient Mariner, Richard Gross, became so fired up as to build two on similar lines which he enjoys sailing immensely. Enthusiasm for the Footy boats has started again in Auckland after a break of a few years, and the writer along with one or two others, none  the least being Mark’s friend Harry Duncan, though not particularly into racing them, more enjoy the classic boats in Footy size and are working on encouraging others to build and `cruise’ Footy, ketches and schooners, and Footy scows of the old days in New Zealand. `They want to start a group called Shorebirders Classic Little Sailing Ships principally for Footies.

Harry Duncan's two Footy scow models of the US and NZ Alma boats

A once smart little Footy racing ketch by Ron Rule; Now a Footy fishing boat constantly being fished out of the Auckland pond.

Ernest Hemmingway is that you? - Ron Rule winner of the 'Race for the Dosh' Trophy at Onepoto with his Fast-fast-fast Footy Black Beauty

In the photo above by Richard Gross, Ron is seen receiving the Mark Steele donated outright trophy from new Ancient Mariner, Ken Harrison,

The Everard Mansion at Eagle Creek inlet
after Gertrude the storm

(a diorama by Mark Steele)

When last has any reader thought about building a nautical diorama, considered in my books anyway as a part of modelling. It has been many years since I built one, and done properly they are time consuming and require oodles of patience, what’s more they are not the sort of thing that one is going to be able to knock off in a long weekend between a round of golf and  a bit of that other thing, whatever that may happen to be.

My diorama I admit is not quite nautical .though if you have a closer look it is so to a degree in that the storm that came in from the sea, then into the river and lambasted the mansion shown at the inlet to a creek does therefore suggest nautical connections.

First of all I didn’t  build the lovely mansion itself which was given to some twenty years ago by a dear friend, Peggy Young in Ardmore, Oklahoma, so suffice to say, if a diorama stirs your joystick, buy lots of PVA glue and have a go.

Mr Everard Snr surveying the damage.

 The Mansion was reasonably unscathed.

Andrew Fagan’s, footy-sized but non Footy compliant easy to put together, non RC, ready to sail Davilon yacht is one of the sailing boats of Saggimau which is located (well we will just say) `over the curve of the earth ‘ from where the boats  set out on Plastic Bag Patrol.

You could win 'REGGAE ROSE'an Andrew Fagan Davilon freesail yacht if you are the first to email correct answers to a couple of questions whch you will find within this column.

My own Davilon (at right) is called Reggae Rose, so I am referring to it as that.

Reggae Rose
sailing at Onepoto lake in Auckland, NZ. Photo by MS  

The Davilon yacht under sail put to sea and photographed by Andrew Fagan

waiting for the next roller

Holy Mullrolly! Hang on crew!

An exciting absolutely bomb proof little yacht, the Davilon is worth looking at as a boat option – no radio control, totally robust and virtually 'indestructible' (and inexpensive at NZ$60 plus postage and packing ex Auckland).

Take a look a the video, then be prepared to order one for the grandchild for Christmas and you can oder via the email shown later in this column. It is a great Christns gift and the cost is an absolute steal.

Purchasers also get a copy of the full colour book,  On Plastic Bag Patrol  which is a wonderful read for the young, and the old like me with imagination who are young at heart, the book written by Andrew two pages shown above.

Take a look at the video embedded below then be prepared to want one and contact Andrew Fagan by email


Ken Impey I met many years ago and have written about his boats in both Windling World, my long defunct magazazine and countless occasions in this column on Duckworks magazine. My wife and I visited Ken & Marj in Cornwall some years ago and since then we have continually kept in touch by phone for he is the very salt of the earth and an absolute treasure among a few close friends met of mine

Ken has built a great many models and when I visited Falmouth we took time to enjoy maybe an hour and a half to sail two schooners of his in Perranporth pond while chatting and getting to know each other. Many of his boats, most of them given away now have been made available for modellers to build by provision of plans through the Traplet Plans Service and that still exists today.

Poor eyesight forced Ken to give up building some years ago, then unable to cast aside his enthusiasm for making schooners came this absolute beauty thatI call Shalom because Ken Impey my friend is a man of kindness and of peace. I don't know what name he gave her (or where she even is now) but I know he won't mind. This is for you Ken,,,Shalom!

John Hanks with two J Class boats

Hanks skylight fitted on Mark's Footy Sixpence

One of the deck houses made by John

(left) John Hanks working on deck houses

(above) John with his large J Class model

John Hanks III of the US whom I have written about before is well known as one of the leading sailors and promoters of the big J Class model racing yachts, but it is not so much about that aspect of his hobby I write about, instead it is about his skill in producing what some call `deck houses’ (what others like I tend to refer to as  `skylights’.

John who also sails a smaller Canterbury J Class boat has been so kind as to offer to produce (which he did at no cost whatsoever to me) a few of these wonderfully constructed  absolutely beautifully made ship fittings for me for me in varying sizes, one of these now fitted to my classic little John Stubbs made Footy of mine called Sixpence.

That is John  at work above on the ones he sent me and this is not to suggest in any way that he seeks orders from people. (I don’t know because he has never said so and I have never asked him, but I have found that they are fiddly little things to make and it would be a great service to model shipmodellers new to the hobby, and like the writer, enthusiastic but largely unskilled and therefore unable.)

Book Review

For kindle or lap top, this is the very first E Book that I have really seen for I am not a `kindler' but M. de Lesseps (I know him as Mike, he calls himself Lesseps!) a now retired Art Director in serious US advertising agencies and for a long time a restorer of pond models has sent me a hard copy of a little book called Building "Betty Too', an RC scale model of an original boat by Harry Bryan, the model built by Mike for a friend of his who owns the speedboat itself.

On the cover of the hard copy can be seen (presumably the owner) aboard the boat with the model nestled beside the hull. Although in the introduction to the book it has been stated that `this is not a How to build Betty Too, the author has some words of advice to those aspiring to make a model of the boat which as a non-builder I pride myself in understanding and would go so far as to say that nonetheless I feel that the kindle or lap top book would certainly offer immense help for it is clearly explained.

Areas in the construction have been covered and in clear and concise manner, and dear to my own heart is Mike's point made (akin to mine) that model boats on a lake or pond with no crew on board is just unrealistic. Model boats need figures in order to create the illusion, just as much I think, as I need imagination as I sail up and down a strait or rugged coast that could be anywhere while controlling the steering and sails and keeping an eye on changing tide and wind conditions. Needless to say, Mike has carved his own figures.

If you are a builder of model ships and one that is happy and well versed in the use of a lap top, or if you are a kindle kind of person, then for just eight US dollars (presumably plus postage) you can get this e book from Amazon. Maybe it is the start of a whole new trend toward kindle and/or electronic reading, who knows? Plaudits anyway, that even the dumb such as I can understand it.

Egret with `Crazy Herb’ sets sail
For Auckland

Egret trying find her way out into  the open sea

A New Zealander set sail aboard Commodore Monroe’s Egret out of Florida with intent to reach New Zealand before Christmas. The boat was built by Cecil Tiller and was gifted to Mark Steele, then  Herb Sprangster  a sailor from Wellington undertook to deliver the boat up across the Pacific and into the Onepoto canal in time for a pre-Christmas welcome in Auckland.

Ian Hunt stands behind his new (and huge) model of the ship Dunbar
A master ship modeller blessed with skill and patience.

Master shipmodeller,  Ian Hunt in Sydney, Australia is seen behind his latest model, the Dunbar which he has been building for five years. This photo came in from Ian just before closing off this June issue, so I am glad  to  have been able to include it.

The real Dunbar on which the ship was modeled smasked itself into rocks and was completely demolished.

On 21st August way back in 1857, the Dunbar caught in a heavy gale at Watsons Bay, Sydney, foundered and smashed herself into the cliff face at night with the loss of 121 passengers and was the worst ever disaster in the maritime history of Australia.

Ian Hunt's model is built to a scale of 1/36 and has an overall length of 8' 2".

From the stern forward, the ship is quite lengthy.

The model schooner man
of Tobermory!

A centreboard schooner of 1886

The dream started when Phillip Sidall on the Isle of Mull read in my column that my mate John Stubbs had built a sailing model of of the 1886 centreboard schooner which he had named Mary J Stubbs.

A museum curator on Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Argyll in UK. Philip has not yet had the time sail the model because the waters there have been frozen, but hopefully I may get a photo of the model sailing soon.

The stern of the ship tidy and uncluttered. 

Interesting `innards' set-up.

Artweger's World

Phillip Artweger who has been featured many times in previous columns with his generally small micro sailing boats at the controls of a Short Skyvan D aircraft over Klatovy in the Czech Republic.

Phillip and the writer keep in touch and he is now more into RC model helicopter flying having taken model yacht micro sailing to what he considers to be a satisfactory level (perhaps he means he is a bit bored with it). His girlfriend is into RC flying of the helicopters so they spend more time to together.

Inset on the photo above is one of Phillip's delightful little schooners that needs a rebuild after falling off a cupboard in a storm, and headed to Harry Duncan's `magic restoration emporium in Hamilton to be rebuilt for a friend of his!

Introduction by Mark Steele

Sometimes, these days I also find I need a map just to find my way around in my daily home meanders, just like Ken Preston did to find his way out of Saigon as related in his blog `Letters from the Road. Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos’.  I have known this friend never met, Ken Preston just three days. and this is his story not mine, I have merely `snipetised ‘ it from the wealth of information his material gave me.

An interesting fact I discovered is that Ken Preston is a friend of Harry Duncan my own close friend who as lived in Viet Nam and both he and Ken are married to Vietnamese lasses. It is a small world.

Ken Preston motorcycle riding photographer

A colourful Viet Nam fishing boat and a lovely well constructed photograph, The rivers abound with such picturesque spots.


Model boats for export from Ken's favourite manufacturers, Gia Nhien in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. I am hoping to show you a few of their models, perhaps in the next issue.

Ken refers to it as his `infamous career'. After taking a degree in geology, he went on active duty in the army right out of school, was in tanks in the US and briefly in Germany before being sent to the combat zone. Then to Viet Nam in the early seventies for a year where he didn't get killed and didn't kill anybody either. Back in the US he went commercial fishing after the war until he went broke.

Liking Viet Nam he went back there in 2005 after spending 36 years up and down the US West coast building bridges and docks, and tugboats and cranes for a company. in order to make a trip through the country on a motorcycle, with a plan to photograph all the boats and write a book about the trip. He has worn out a couple of motorbikes as some of the roads on the Lau side are horrendously bad dirt and gravel, many with water crossings with no bridges, or over very scary bridges.

He is still photographing and working on the book.

A fine model of a North Sea trawler by Kiwi Steve Craven- Jones, the model called Our Sarah after Steve's wife.

It is fully RC and has working bow thruster, horn and, seagull sound effects and is beautifully weathered. Steve lives in the Bay of Plenty area of New Zealand's North Island.

New Zealand wonder horse Phar Lap, an amazing lifesize sculpture by
Joanne Sullivan-Gessler, photographed by David Wall.

David Wall I have never met but I first saw his photographs of Phar Lap taken at Timaru Raceway in Washdyke in the South Island of New Zealand, then saw a copy of one of Wall's early books and that started my fossicking for pictures of his other work, much of which has brought him acclaim. Have a look at his website: and also the website Joanne Sullivan-Gessler:

And they are off!

Beauty from above...One of David's aerial shots. 

David Wall Photographer

Hotel d'Urville, New Zealand

And now a really wonderful video on parahawking produced by Life Touch Films and seen on You Tube. It is called `Rio for Real…Fly like a bird’. Sit back and enjoy it

The red Italian beast is ready! (photo by the writer)

Okay listen up fellas and look sharp. In July I am off to the salt flats in the US for another run in REDS my Ferrari as I try for the record in that class. Once again I will have my celebrated pit crew, the Salty Broads in their topless almost bottomless polka dot bikinis servicing the snarling beast from Maranello, Italy, my pride and joy. 

BRRRRM, there we go WHAAAAAA!  Speak to me baby!!! WHAAAAAAA! WHAWWWWW! Whooo! Whoosh!

A tribute to Tracie’s old girl Havana!

Havana no speak de Spanish no more!


Here is my favourite pooch of the month, Tracie my gorgeous Auckland barber’s aged alsation  Havana who sadly is getting on and suffering with dementia, keeps examining my pockets for Cuban cigars,

In human terms Havana is eighty-eight and is struggling to remember her Spanish these days!

Bottled ship-in-a-bottle man!

Mark's friend, Cecil Tiller's bottled man.

The MV Barima

The Guest house at Lama, East Demerara Water Conservancy where\the writer and the artist have both enjoyed the fishing.

Guyana's Kaieteur Falls

Tony Phillips and the writer grew up in GeorgetownBritish Guiana, went to different colleges and in later years developed an interest in art, eventually co-hosting a two man exhibition of our work and presenting the then Prime Minister, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham with a framed painting each.

The country was changing politically and I had already left and was living and working for British Airways in the Caribbean islands based on the island of Barbados, Tony later leaving for Australia (where he lives in Victoria and I for New Zealand.

He paints in a variety of media, oils, watercolours, pastels and I wanted to include a small sample of his work in this column and the sample shown brings back wonderful memories of the homeland country I remember. He is also interested in model railways and intends to build one someday that will be based on the railway that ran all the way from Georgetown along the East Coast to Rosignol beside the Berbice River.

WIN an Andrew Fagan Davilon freesail Model yacht

IMAGE at Right

By being the first to answer the following four questions correctly by email:

  1. What is the name of Andrew Fagan's 5.4m ocean-going sloop?
  2. Name the Rock Band that Andrew Fagan formed and is most Famous for?
  3. What does the word `Papillon' mean in English?
  4. What was the French Convict Charriere's christian name in the
    film Papillon?

There are 5 Runner Up Book prizes of Fagan books. (Use the internet to help You, but be quick!

Give your name, Full address, your email. No correspondence will be entered into.

Email your entry to


Kiwi Tina Turner, not the singer silly fellas, but Tina who does the engraving at Apex Trophies in Auckland, taken some years ago on her horse Bella, all four feet off the ground at full whack on a West Coast beach.
Photo by Terri Millar


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