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LE CONSUL

WRITER’S BOAT MODELS

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For years, I have sailed for my pleasure around the world, on many boats. And since I stopped my professional activity, I dedicate myself to the Sea. It goes through collections of boats and by reading writers of the Sea. I amassed, a large number of metal toy boats from the beginning of the last century and my new hobby is to build writer’s boat models.

 

The difficulty does not lie only in the construction, but first in the search of writers who have owned boats and even in the availability of their plans: kits exist for some, plans are available for others in French, English or American museums and, sometimes, you have to follow a breadcrumb trail to obtain the hull plans.

 

This passion led me to build 1/30th scale models, all different in their size, style or origin:

- PILAR to Ernest Hemingway

- SAINT-MICHEL III to Jules Verne

- ALTAÏR to Henry de Monfreid (under construction)

YAO to Eric Orsena (also in progress)

OSTROGOTH to Georges Simenon

 

The following projects are envisaged if hull plans (or kits) exist:

- CASCO from Robert Louis Stevenson

- SNARK to Jack London

- WESTERN FLYER to John Steinbeck

- RING DOVE from William Faulkner

- BEL AMI to Guy de Maupassant

- AMPHITRITE to J.K. ROWLING (Harry Potter)

Among these projects, there is one, very difficult and with a very poor documentation: it is the schooner EMMA to Alexandre Dumas (the Three Musketeers). Unfortunately, only two or three drawings are available, unreliable and insufficient to build a model. To get the hull plans, three "tracks" opened to me when I started my research.

- The first, by the shipyard that built the boat in Liverpool, UK. We are fortunate to have in our family an admiral of the Navy; he began research in the Admiralty and in British museums; but the research has yet been unsuccessful.

- The second by the silver prints of Gustave Le Gray, one of the first photographers, a friend of Dumas' time, but without having been able to discover Emma so far in his photos.

- The third by the books of Dumas himself. In "Viva Garibaldi", he delivers the origin of his Emma: she was built for the Duke of Gramont, his friend and from whom he had acquired her. I looked to see if I could locate his descendants.

Today, I don't have a solution.

 

My request is simple: among the readers of this blog, does anyone know that there are, about the above writers' boats, kits or plans (CASCO, SNARK, WESTERN FLYER, RING DOVE, BEL AMI, AMPHITRITE and EMMA). In addition, if a reader gave me information about a boat outside the list above, I would be grateful.

So here is my first request. Do any kits exist or, if not, could someone send me the plans for these boats.

 

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I doubt if you'll find any kit of any of those ships. Manufacturers tend only to produce kits of famous ships such as Cutty Sark, Victory, Constitution, etc. I do seem to recall a plastic kit of Captain Nemo's Nautilus. It was made popular by the movie of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Your approach to ships in fiction is an interesting one. You may find plans of similar vessels on which to base your models, though. Good luck with your research, M. Le Consul!

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Western Flyer still exists and is being restored at a boatyard in the State of Washington here in the USA.  One or more articles about her were recently published in WoodenBoat magazine. You should be able to find them on their website.

 

You might also be interested in a series of posts on this forum by Jersey City Frankie recreating the boat from the Erskine Childers novel, Riddle of the Sands.

 

Roger

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Jack London's Snark is quite well documented. There are many photos of her posted on line. https://www.google.com/search?q=jack+london+%2B+snark&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjHjZjS5NbnAhUHrZ4KHVD1C8AQ_AUoAXoECBYQAw&biw=1440&bih=749#imgrc=pKcBFiiXa67niM&imgdii=LvoBgGAxqOHmqM

 

There is a model of her on display at the Jack London State Historic Park (His former home) in Glen Ellen, California, USA, north of Sonoma, California. (pictured below)  http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=478 Details of the vessel are in London's book, The Cruise of the Snark: Jack London's South Sea Adventure, which is still in print. I don't know if the book provides lines drawings, though. As famous as London was in his day, there was much recorded about Snark. The primary places I'd suggest beginning primary source research would be the Jack London State Historic Park, the J.Porter Shaw Library at the San Francisco National Maritime Museum, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA, USA, and the Oakland Museum, Oakland, California, USA. 

 

Image result for jack london + snark

 

 

 

 

Image result for jack london + snark

 

 

 

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A boat with a (vague) 'literary' conotation is the boeier SPERWER (1884). The dutch boat was owned in the 1930s by Merlin Minshall (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlin_Minshall), a british naval intelligence officer, who is said to have been one of the inspiration for Ian Fleming's 'James Bond'. The boat is very well documented in terms of drawings and preserved in the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen/Netherlands: https://www.maritima-et-mechanika.org/maritime/zuiderzee/zuiderzee.html. An ukrainian colleague here on the forum recently completed a model of the boat.

 

https://www.maritima-et-mechanika.org/maritime/zuiderzee/070808-72.jpg

 

 

BTW, there are also many painters' boats. A french impressionist painter, Gustave Caillebotte, was also an influential yacht designer and competitive sailor.

 

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I have been thinking of the SPRAY, but is it was presumably lost with Slocum at sea, I thought there wasn't much information on her. However, there was a replica of her, but I don't know on what basis.

 

I vaguely remember that there was also a writer's boat in the Vancouver Island Maritime Museum, but their Web-site is quite difficult with respect to finding particular artefacts. Was it perhaps the SPRAY replica ? After all Slocum was Canadian by birth.

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Hi Duxey

Unfortunately for me, the Nautilus is not a writer's boat, but a roman's boat? I say unfortunately because I like very much this submarine. But I have in my collection a model of the SAINT MICHEL III, one of the boat of Jules Verne, built by one of my friends, Alain Paradis...

1638745936_7.***Saint-MichelIIIjpeg.jpeg.2aaae7910d39479b889082e4b2526a83.jpeg

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Hi Roger

 

For the Western Flyr, I think I will be able to find the plans without difficulties. The wreck is being restored in a shipyard near Tacoma (I believe), and museums and associations are dedicated to Steinbeck. My problem is that I don't have enough time to make the models!

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A worthy subject is Gypsy Moth IV, the boat Sir Francis Chichester sailed round the world. He wrote about it afterwards.

 

By the way,

On 2/17/2020 at 1:48 PM, wefalck said:

A boat with a (vague) 'literary' conotation is the boeier SPERWER (1884). The dutch boat was owned in the 1930s by Merlin Minshall

I read this guy's autobiography around 1976 and am still laughing.

 

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