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Hi all,

I'm a newbie, and I chose as my first build, The Beagle from Occre.  Two reasons for my choice. Firstly the excellent tutorial vids on youtube as being a new builder I had no idea how clear the instructions would be and I didn't want to fail at the first hurdle.

Secondly, I read a book in 2008 and it turned out to be my all time favorite book ever. If I could only take one book to a desert island this would be it.  This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson





I originally found this in the library, loved it so much I promptly went out and bought it so i could read it again. 


I've quoted one of the 5 star reviews on Amazon from C. E. Utley of the book below as I can't possibly do it justice myself.



What a tour de force!

Truth is stranger than fiction. Though Thompson's novel is, indeed, a novel, the most extraordinary events which it depicts all actually happened. The dialogue and the insights into the main characters' minds are provided by Thompson, but the astounding basic facts are provided by history.

The book is very long. It runs to well over 700 pages. But every one of those pages will be devoured with greed by all but the most unimaginative readers.

This is the story of two amazing men. Robert Fitzroy, a young lieutenant in the Royal Navy, is given command of HMS Beagle after its former captain commits suicide. His appointment takes effect about half way through the Beagle's first voyage, the purpose of which is to survey parts of the South American coastline. Part One of the book tells of that voyage. Those readers who have discovered that Thompson's novel is to be compared with those of Patrick O'Brian will wonder, as they read that first part, where Fitzroy's Maturin is. But they don't have to wait long. Back in England, Fitzroy prepares for the Beagle's second voyage. He is worried that, without an intelligent companion, he may go the way of his predecessor. Naval commanders are not permitted to fraternise with their junior officers. The voyage is to last for at least two years. Fitzroy decides to investigate the possibility of finding a civilian, a natural philosopher, to join the ship's company. An even younger man, just about to start his preparation for ordination, is recommended to him. That young man's name is Charles Darwin.

After a few temporary setbacks, the Beagle's second voyage sets off. Fitzroy is captain, though still in the rank of Commander. Darwin is his companion and natural philosopher.

As is well known, no spoiler this, the second voyage of the Beagle lasted for more than five years. During that time there were many amazing adventures. And, throughout, young Darwin was absorbing information about natural history which gradually led him to doubt the literal truth of the old testament scriptures. But Fitzroy, though sticking firmly to his belief in that literal truth, was also learning a great deal. In particular, his conviction that it should be possible to foretell (or "forecast" as he later put it) the weather became firmer and firmer.

For most of those five years there was no serious disagreement between Fitzroy and Darwin. There were moments of tension as Fitzroy realised that his young companion was beginning to espouse dangerous, radical opinions about the origins of species. But the two men remained firm friends.

Sadly, all changed when they returned to England. Though they persevered with their original intention to publish a book about the Beagle's two voyages (Fitzroy writing about the first and he and Darwin both writing about the second), they hardly ever met. Fitzroy was terrified by Darwin's strange new theories. Darwin was far too pleased with his new fame (some of the discoveries he had made, about which he had written home, had already been published) to waste time on his old friend. They drifted apart. Their three volumes were published, but only the one written by Darwin became popular.

Then Fitzroy, now a full captain and with a short period as a Tory MP behind him, was appointed as governor of New Zealand. He was given practically no support by the British government. He had to keep order with only 75 soldiers. The crooked owners of the New Zealand Company hated him because of his desire to respect the rights of the natives. They managed to arrange his dismissal.

In the meantime, Darwin wrote and published The Origin of the Species. Fitzroy was appalled. He wrote furious letters to The Times denouncing his former shipmate. He went to public meetings in order to express his hatred of the theories espoused in Darwin's book.

I think most of us will rank Fitzroy as being the real hero of this novel. He was treated in the most extraordinarily shabby way by the government and the Admiralty. But, despite all they threw at him, he was, by the time of his tragic death, a Vice Admiral and the first head of what has since become known as the Meteorological Office. His invention of weather forecasting, and his determination to put it into practice, directly led to many thousands of lives being saved. True, shortly before his death, the government gave in to pressure from the owners of shipping companies (who objected to their boats being kept in harbour when storms were forecast) and closed down the forecasting service. But pressure from seamen led to its resurrection not long after its inventor died. And, though he died almost bankrupt (he had used his own money to support the public service), public subscriptions were raised to provide support for his widow and children and they were given a grace and favour apartment in Hampton Court Palace by Queen Victoria.

Both names, Fitzroy and Darwin, live on. Throughout Australia and South America there are places and natural features named Fitzroy and Darwin. But perhaps the most satisfying use of one of those names was the one which has only recently been applied. The sea area formerly known as Finistere is now known as Fitzroy. The only sea area to be named after a person.

After reading this I have been fascinated by the voyages of the Beagle, and therefore it HAD to be my choice of first build.


I've got to the stage of making the Bowsprit, and although I've made a few mistakes along the way I'm happy how its turning out. I found the hardest thing was actually making the tiny boats - most exasperating.


I won't make a build log of this although I'll upload a few photos once I've finished.


Anyway, I hope this introduction wasn't too long, and if you happen to read the book - you are in for a treat.


Best wishes everyone



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Hi Genny,

welcome - from another newbie! I only joined a few days ago. I am also from ‘up north’, Gateshead to be precise. Perhaps in a few years time, if we both stick at this, we will organise a Northern Club!!! 

I hope you do a build log, I will be doing so. It will be fun to see how we are both doing! 

cheers, Lynn

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5 hours ago, Genny said:

Lancashire - one of the old mill towns - grimy place - mostly cold wet and windy. :) 


My area too, born and bred.

My info says 'Horwich', but it's actually Anderton, Chorley. It's just that this half of our housing estate straddles the Lancs border.

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11 hours ago, mtaylor said:



Feel free to post a review here in our book area:   https://modelshipworld.com/forum/45-book-monograph-and-magazine-reviews-and-downloads-questions-and-discussions-for-books-and-pubs/     The "how to" is the pinned post at the top.

Will do! Didn't realize there was a book review section. This forum is a lot larger than it first appears :) 

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Hi Genny, I too am a newbie (albeit one who tried before) and have bought this kit for the same reasons that you did. I have now bought the book on your recommendation. Good luck with your build.




PS I am from North Yorkshire but sadly held hostage in the South East of England by my wife and children.

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