It's A Small World

Apt completed awaiting sailsApt in original scruffy conditionTest float in neighbour's pondHull stripped and fibreglass mat appliedDeck stripped and aft cutout madeDeck varnished and running gear fitted

In response to the Commodore's call for interesting articles during these difficult times, here's something a little bit different that I hope some of you will find Q.I. Not a cruising adventure as you may have expected from me, It's yachting related, but not as you know it, it's about my vintage model yacht.


"Apt"  (12 Metre Rating, Scale 1" to the foot)

I was very lucky to inherit this beautiful model yacht from my wife Lynn's family nearly 3 years ago, it had been abandoned in a very wet cluttered cellar for at least 20 years and she looked very sorry for herself, but I'd always had my eye on her! Initially I set about trying to find out exactly what she was, as a keen sailor I knew what a J Class was and was rather hoping it would be one. However, I joined and made enquiries to the Vintage Model Yacht Group where Russell Potts their vintage model yacht guru discounted among others the J, 10 Rater, A and Marblehead. He thought it was almost certainly an 8 or 12 Metre Class (depending on it's dimensions) and was built either to the First International Rule (1907) or to the Second International Rule (1920) putting Apt close to a hundred years old. I am also lucky to have inherited an original copy of the model yachtsmans "bible" from 1936, "Model Sailing Craft" by W.J. Daniels and H.B. Tucker. I applied the dimensions of the model to the tables in the "bible" and I was able to determine that the model was almost certainly a 12 metre, and then by using the Rule formula I could determine the maximum sail area I could use to keep it within the 12 metre rating. I am yet to come across or hear of another model in this class, they were generally sailed in North East England or Scotland, where my wife's family hailed from. The full size 12 metre yacht was used in the 1908, 1912 and 1920 Olympics, and then in a resurgence of the design using "modern" building techniques and materials for the Americas Cup from 1958 to 1987.


The model on closer inspection was in reasonable and sound condition, so I decided that only a refurbishment was required and I would also convert it to radio control. It was a relief when Russell Potts more or less endorsed the fitting of radio control saying at least the boat will be put to more practical use and therefore be used more! I also wanted to retain that vintage feel and look, a good excuse for my limited model making skills!  The hull is 60.5" LOA, of traditional rib and planking construction with lead keel. She has a displacement of approximately 27lbs draws just over 10". The wooden mast, with luff groove, is original and stands around 6' 8" above deck level. The jib "club" or boom, is original however the main boom was missing. The brass Braine steering gear and rudder are also original. The sails that came with the boat were in poor condition as expected, there was a very old cotton suit that had 10 Rater insignia on and a home made pair, neither of them appropriate or suitable.


Thanks to some expert advice and guidance from fellow members of the Weymouth & Portland Model Boat Club work initially proceeded at a pace. After testing whether the hull was watertight, or not, in a neighbours pond, the hull and deck were stripped of their paint and varnish respectively. The hull was coated in lightweight fibreglass mat applied with resin to seal areas where the planking had shrunk slightly. A few coats of primer were applied, very little filler was used as I wanted the planking to be slightly visible through the paintwork for that vintage, non pristine look. The aft deck opening was cut out and reinforced so the steering servo could be mounted, this was then connected to the Braine quadrant with semi-flexible brass wire.


After a years break with no progress due to other commitments, last winter I started on the finishing touches. The batteries, receiver and sail winch were mounted below deck and a continuous loop sail control line was rigged, along with sheets for the jib and main, all running through new deck blocks. All electrics and running lines were "dry" tested for operation by radio control. The hull was painted an old fashioned cream, a boot top line may or may not be added later. The old cracked and loose deck caulking either side of the king plank was dug out and renewed with black Sikaflex mastic. The deck, mast and jib club were all varnished and a main boom and aft hatch cover were made. A new masthead fitting was added and the standing rigging completed. New off-white dacron sails have been ordered and should arrive in early May. So all that needs to be done now is to fit the sails and spars with running rigging, easier said than done I suspect.


I'm really looking forward to launching Apt at the Model Club's venues at Radipole Lake and Mangerton Mill for test sails, hopefully before the summer's out, otherwise I might have to ask my neighbour if he'll build a bigger pond in his back garden !!!


Let's also hope for some big boat sailing in the not too distant future.

Stay safe


Ray Capp

Crystella, Jubilation & Apt !

Submitted on 28th April 2020