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

September 2013

GADZOOKS! Well what a `near washout’ evident by the apparent  disinterest by readers in the offer of one of Andrew Fagan’s freesail boats as a prize in the June issue contest, only one single reader taking the time and minimum effort to enter. That person was Bob Guess of Mass, Va, USA

Some of us quietly bemoan the fact that `kids are `just not interested in the model boating scene’ while others add that it’s all because of computers, video games, the worldwide texting `tsunami’ and the presence of  I pads,`I this , that and the other’. To a degree the latter may have an element of truth, but I say many dads and grandpas are totally disinterested.

The prize offered required little effort to enter and was a grand `starter opportunity’ with the promise of a rather fine Christmas present from Grandad and Nan.

Anyway well done to Bob Guess  seen above with his Davilon Morocat  by Andrew Fagan which reached him in seven days from New Zealand, and he certainly looks `over the moon’ with the model, the photo taken by his wife Patti.

Bob and wife Patti have three grandchildren seven years and under and live near Chick’s Beach a block from Chesapeake Bay and not far from the bridge-tunnel which crosses the bay. He is also part of a group known as the Lunatic Fringe of Boatdom and on Summer weekends his garage is often filled with  people who like (you guessed it) boats and beer. He quite often writes in `Messing about in Boats’ publication.

Bob rows while keeping an eye on youngster Joe, grandson of friends Ed & Michelle Cobb and the Davilon Morocat sails away in a light breeze.

Peter Spencer doing what he enjoyed

Sad news to start with in that another dear friend, the Reverend Peter Spencer of West Bergholt in Essex, Great Britain whose fine model RC sailing ships I had featured several times in Windling World, passed away the day before his 81st birthday. Peter and Wendy his wife were in Florida visiting her sister and he was whisked into hospital.

Of the `old school’ Peter never used email and we sadly had lost touch after my magazine  ceased publication. He was a highly skilled and meticulous ship modeller and I had come upon two of his articles in recent months when browsing through borrowed copies of Model Boats which prompted a letter to him.

Peter’s model of the Lottie S Haskins

I had shown Peter’s model of the 1880 model schooner in Windling World, the model extensively shown  later the March 2009 issue of Model Boats. Peter had gone to considerable lengths to find a little stream in which to float it for a photograph (shown above). The original schooner had been built in Massachusetts in the USA and Peter had carefully researched  the vessel in Howard I Chapelle’s book The American Fishing Schooners 1825-1935.

His model of the Lowestoft Sailing
trawler Master Hand

A magnificent sailing model, this was later presented to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London and is a fitting place to display it. who now have full ownership. I am sure that it will prove to be a popular exhibit in the museum’s collection of authentic models.

Ian Crooks in later unwell days

Another of our Ancient Mariners in Auckland, Ian Crooks drew his last breath on 21st June and fell victim to cancer at age 73. He was a good guy and a regular careful and capable skipper on the pond with a couple of boats that he built and highly likeable among his fellow colleagues. A keen snow skier, Ian also did a fair quantity of sailing in earlier days and built his own sailing  models and also sailed on Sundays with the SEAWIND fleet. Always with a smile and the offer of a handshake when I arrived at the pond, Ian also spent time in approaches to the City Council towards cleaning up the Onepoto pond and many there like his Ancient Mariner sailing buddies shall remember him but for different reasons. He was also a keen skier and loved such areas.. Ian leaves a gorgeous daughter, Sarah who looked after her father right through until his untimely passing. Fair winds Ian, we still miss you and thanks for the memories mate.

The fleet moored before assembling
for the start of a Jester Challenge

Not that the writer has any personal aspirations of going to sea  in a pea-green small sailing boat no larger than thirty feet I am but a non- ocean-sailing journalist who can only dream of such  adventures  while enjoying sailing small model boats weekly on a pond in New Zealand in the antipodies. (Perhaps it is the little boy still in me trying to get out ! – it is said that many such exist!)

But what exactly is the Jester Challenge? Well there are oodles of websites on the internet that one can plod through but perhaps I was lucky as I chanced upon and went straight to one of it’s co-founders and originators, Ewen Southby-Tailyour who could not have been more helpful.

The Jester Challenge is not a race so there is no finishing order, instead it is a single-handed  ocean cruise held every four years from a point in Britain to another relatively easily reached by those who enter.  It is for sailing boat of the size mentioned and engines aboard are permitted but may only be used to charge batteries for mobile telephones and steering and navigation system or in the case of an emergency.

A fine summation of the Jester I found to be a short history of the challenge by Mike Richey for he tells of the yacht Jester that became one of the most recognisable sailing yachts in the world with her junk-rig set on an unstayed mast conceived by Blondie Hasler for short-handed sailing who finished second to Francis Chichester in Gypsy Moth II in a race from Plymouth, England to New York in 1960.

Blondie Hasler

Mike Richey 

Ewen Southby Tailyour

This  motivated the idea that led to the originators organizing what was to be known as the Jester Challenge by Southby-Tailyour and  Trevor Leek who was to later own Jester.  Hasler died in 1987 and Richey in 2009 at age 92, the latter not before scattering the former’s ashes at sea aboard the boat Hasler had made famous. Blondie Hasler, Mike Richey, Ewen Southby-Tailyour  and Trevor Leek’s names are therefore the key links in the origins of today’s  Jester Challenge.

This years Jester Challenge is from UK to Baltimore in SW Ireland and according to Ewen is intended to bring on the new and inexperienced sailors prior to the 2014 Jester to Newport, Rhode Island.

The Sea Empress gathering speed

Rick Mayes on the sunshine coast of Australia is renowned for his beautiful scale RC schooners and his new one, the Sea Empress certainly steals the show and is a stunning looker. She is called Sea Empress and the design is loosely influenced by the classic schooner EOS, the largest private sailing yacht in the world built for movie and media billionaire, Barry Diller the husband of fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

Rick’s model commenced as a model of the Maltese Falcon was later put aside after sailing trials of the hull and a couple of years later re-used for the new ship. Photos of EOS were obtained and the hull constructed plank on frame to a scale of 1:55 providing a sparred length of 170cm with a 26cm beam.

schooner photos by Brian Gwillam

The figurehead

Unlike the reported story of the figurehead on EOS being of Diller’s wife, Rick’s Sea Empress carried a nude gold-pained female figurehead (not of Rick’s wife  only because the owner didn’t want to pay her the modest modelling fee…and like many of us his memory is not as good as it used to be!)

A few details: The draft including attached keel is 35c, it is fitted with two Hitec H5765HB sail arm winches that work in tandem to control the staysail/mizzen together and the foresail/mainsail together, and of course a standard servo for the rudder control. There are roaches and battens on the fore, main and mizzen sails.

Scott Baldwin sketching on a foreshore

Scott Baldwin is a professional illustrator and marine artist of 30 years standing who works for a variety of clients in the publishing and graphic design fields who lives in Connecticut near the river and Long Island sound. He produces drawings and notecards for people, works from observation and photos and does commissioned paintings of boats. His website is

There are two great riddles in the world: How was I born, I don’t remember, how shall I die, I don’t know!
Alexander Solzhenetsyn

Keith Muscott, an avid dinghy sailor edits and produces a high class little magazine called Dinghy Cruising in Britain and his readership comes from many parts of the world.

Keith gets out on the water as often as he can aboard his 14’7” long cat-ketch called Seren (A Welsh word for `Star’), a boat designed by Ian Howlett, the image (above)  by Keith at Scapa Flow in the Orkney islands . If you are into dinghies you’ll find DC  an interesting read with great photographs and you should email Keith and request a copy by email.

He is also a keen musician seen in the photo inset knocking out some blues for clients at the Royal Hotel in Longhope , a coastal settlement in Orkney, Scotland.

Sit back now and enjoy a You Tube video of American author, graduate of Harvard, wingsuit flyer and successful base jumper, Chris ‘Douggs’ McDougall’s daring Wingsuit flight `Black Dragon make storm’. What people do for enjoyment.  I am not in his class and am only at the stage of  jumping off the 15 and a half inch high pouffe onto the carpet believe me that’s frightening enough at 79!

Snoopy Sloop

Robin Lovelock

A launching for Snoopy Sloop

It was a gallant and seemingly well thought out attempt by Englishman Robin Lovelock to develop a model yacht with solar panels aboard to recharge the electrics as well as GPS Computer to pilot the model and therefore keep the RC going. Launched in British waters with hopes to be the first to sail the model across the Atlantic to America it attracted quite considerable attention and was part of the `Microtransat Challenge’ which began in 2010 by French academics.

With an effigy of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy mounted on the bow foredeck and after fairly considerable pre-publicity Robin Lovelock launched his 1.2m Snoopy Sloop from Barton On Sea beach in Hampshire and the journey was on. Sadly it was not to be for a mere six hours of sailing later, the model self-destructed when it failed to clear `the Needles’ at the tip of the Isle of Wight in Britain, slamming into the chalk cliff face to curtail the dream.

Knowing the tenacity of the English, Robin Lovelock and his Team Joker will not have given up. He could have been a hero but maybe next time and model yachts and what they stand for sure needs a hero.

"They say you’re too small
For the Jester Challenge!"
Model Scow by Harry Duncan photograph by Mark Steele

Sanctuary found, Egret in a Hugusmungas  Island
stream for rudder repairs.

Enroute to Auckland New Zealand, the little ex Monroe replica built by Cecil Tiller and headed from the US under sail after hitting really bad weather when she was almost swamped, was a on June 8th in an evening collision with a large humpback whale.

Her delivery skipper who is sailing her reported that the boat was turned on her side and almost flipped completely over but was towed forty miles off course to Bungalew Point part of Hugusmungas Island by a freighter where her rudder could be straightened after which she was going to leave and proceed onwards in end  August headed for New Zealand via the Panama Canal. And therein, readers should ponder as to whether this is no more than a `tall tale!

Ken Harrison Cartoon

Bob Hicks, Publisher and Editor of the monthly publication Messing about in Boats and I have been great friends-never-met for several years, largely because of our parallel interests of publishing and our interests in motorcycles. Our association goes back to when I was publishing Windling World, his going even further back in both our cases to when he published motorcycle journals and when unbeknown to both of us we rode and raced motorcycles at opposite ends of the world. Here is a young Bob on his 1947 Indian Chief `Roadmaster’ off to a 1950 camping trip in New Hampshire. Strewth!  That bike sure is a collosal and mean-looking bastard!  And at the other end of the scale, a beautiful miniature chopper made from watch parts (but not by Bob) seen on the internet and so realistic one feels that one could actually ride it.  (Inset)

Geoff Mackley film – Geoff is a freelance photographer and International filmmaker with a worldwide reputation and is also an extreme adventurer. This is just one of his videos featured on YouTube.

A ship well weathered!

Photograph by the writer in Wellington, New Zealand
many years ago. Any idea how long it took me to
`weather’ this one?


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