Ship models by my dad

My dad was a boatbuilder by profession. In 1963 he began to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis that soon affected every joint. Although his hands were encased in plastic splints he started three new hobbies: Water colour painting, Cane chair repairs, Model ship building.

The latter absorbed him most. He scratch-built from pine, matchsticks, cotton and paper a sloop about 4” long, then the 2” (5cm) long “Santa Maria” model ( pictured below)

Next was a much larger, frame-built balsa wood Hong Kong junk, with the challenge of tissue paper and bamboo strip sails that could be properly adjusted using cotton thread and drilled wooden blocks.

When he started making these ships in bottles, including making his own tools like “piece of razor blade on dowel stick” or “pivot-hinged paintbrush with wire control”, folks asked him why he was only charging £2.50 (mid 1970s).
One exchange I remember: “The chandlers in town have them in the window for £10.” Dad: “For how long?”.

A neighbour once challenged him to make a ship in a standard 6v car light bulb. Dad responded with a single-masted sailing yacht on a putty sea, with a stand to fit. He later presented a simple, unadulterated 240v opaque bulb on a stand with a plaque entitled: “Ship in a Fog”

A perfectionist, and with the benefit of hindsight, possibly somewhat autistic. I learned in recent years that his desire for perfection meant that he struggled to keep a job at every boatyard at which he was employed. I wish I had got to know him better as an adult before his untimely death aged 57.

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General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

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