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Getting Back Into The Hobby After 45+ Years

Tom in NC

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Hi all.  I'm a new guy here.


I was getting pretty good at wooden ship models back in my late 20s and early 30s, but the demands of my career intervened and I had to give it up for lack of spare time.  I'll bet there are a number of you out there with a similar profile.  In my mid-40s my new wife presented me with a fine Bluejacket model of The Portland paddle wheel steamer.  I loved the model, but if anything I was even busier then so I tucked the thing away for some future opportunity.


I retired in 1998 and after a move to a warmer location (NC vs MI) I somehow got sidetracked into woodworking in 2003 (a completely new field for me) and over the next 15 years got pretty good at designing and building custom furniture.  I didn't get rich, but had a lot of fun and paid for some very nice power tools several times over.


Early last year (2017), at the age of 74, I decided I'd had enough of furniture making.  Material costs were through the roof, and so were machine prices and upkeep costs.  I just let the shop languish.  One day in March of this year I made some rudimentary efforts to clean it up (it's depressing how much sawdust can collect in every nook and cranny in15 years) and while doing that I ran across a dusty old box on a high shelf and -- SHAZAM -- The Portland came back into my life.  It was begging me to try modeling again, and summoning up some of my long-forgotten skills from earlier days I managed to finish the thing after 6 months.  It looks pretty nice, but a really good ship builder would probably laugh at my efforts.  I can do much better. and I will. 


I was lucky enough to find a guy who wanted to buy a complete woodworking shop, and now half of my garage is referred to as "The Shipyard".  On September 1st I began work on the Mantua Sergal model of the Cutty Sark, and am firmly hooked on the hobby once again.  I plan to start posting build progress reports in the forum area soon. 


My main interests are clipper ships and whaling ships.  Several of my old New England forefathers captained whaling ships. 


I really enjoy reading through the posts from others, even the really old ones.  I'll enjoy hearing from you and sharing your stories for however many years I've been allocated. 





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Hi Tom, nice looking models! I too am winding down from a Carpentry/Remodeling career. The reason for my joining this site years ago was a solid hulled ship model given to me by my Great Aunt 35 years ago. I don’t know for sure but I am convinced it was built by the last or second to last of 4 generations of my lineal Mariner ancestors in the mid to late 1800’s. I have repaired and painted it, it now awaits rigging. Tom, I also descend from Mainers and Masters from Martha’s Vineyard, then New Bedford, Ma, that ( probably ) sailed primarily on clipper ships. Two died in their twenties, one of whom was lost at sea in 1790. Wouldn’t it be something

if we had some ancestors, towns, or ships in common??

Dean Hillman.

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Welcome Tom. My story is similar though I’ve managed to find time to get back in the hobby before retirement. Started to find some time after the kids were grown. Took almost 30 years off from the hobby. Once my son moved out, I started cleaning the workbench area that he had taken over for making snow and skateboards and found the whaling brig Kate Cory that I had started some 25 years ago. Dusted it off and got restarted in the hobby and here we are 2 years later! Looking forward to seeing your Cuddy Sark take shape. 

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Thanks to all for your warm welcome to the "community".   


A couple of responses and some added information...

- I live in Weaverville, NC, just north of Asheville

- One of you asked if we had any relatives in common who were involved in whaling or sailing out of New England and I know of at least 4 Hoxies (my last name) who were whaling ship captains.  The Hoxie House in Mystic Seaport was a very popular hotel (since renamed) and the phone book there was full of Hoxies.  The oldest house on Cape Cod is also called the Hoxie House and is now a museum in Sandwich. 

- One of the primary reasons for my visiting Mystic Seaport several years ago was to see the Charles W. Morgan, one of the last if not the last sail-powered whaling ships.  I built a model of it back in my 30s.  Now it's rumored that Bluejacket is planning a new high-end model of that and it's going to be #1 on my shopping list if & when it becomes available.  I'll do a much better job on it this time around.

- And of lesser note, there was a clipper ship named the Harriet Hoxie.  Google it.

- One of you was also a woodworker and warned me that if I ever graduated to scratch-built ships I'd miss the tools I sold.  I hope I get good enough to get that far in the hobby, and I can always buy newer tools.

- Lastly, the pictures I attached of The Portland paddle-wheel steamer show it displayed on one of the many tables I built during my furniture making years.


See y'all later when I start posting photos and details of my current Cutty Sark build.


Tom in NC

Tom Hoxie



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Tom I seem to be on the same trajectory as you regarding transitioning from full scale woodworking to model ship building although I cannot bring myself to let go of the shop tools just yet. Nonetheless, ship modeling is such a pleasant way to while away the hours. The 'rub' is your 'mind's eye always seems to raise the bar on the quality of the work product. So it is a never ending pursuit especially around this august body! Welcome to the group.


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10 hours ago, Tom in NC said:

Now it's rumored that Bluejacket is planning a new high-end model of that and it's going to be #1 on my shopping list if & when it becomes available.  I'll do a much better job on it this time around.

Al, at Bluejacket, is working on a large-scale cross-section of Morgan. See this newsletter from them -



Cheers -


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