Model Boats Aplenty at Woods Hole Show

Written by Laura M. Reckford

WOODS HOLE – There are model boats of all shapes and sizes at the 10th Biennial Woods Hole Model Boat Show going on this weekend, April 18 and 19, in Woods Hole.

Tall ships including the Charles W. Morgan, America’s last surviving wooden whale ship? Check.

Military boats, including the PT109 of John F. Kennedy fame? Check.

A classic steamer, complete with smoke stack? Check.

A Gloucester fishing trawler? Check.

boats11In fact, there are so many different kinds of models that the show fills seven buildings.

(For in-depth profiles of some of the model boat builders at the Woods Hole Model Boat Show, click here.)

One of the exhibitors is Margaret Rice of Dartmouth who restores antique model pond boats. She talked about how she got into restoring antique model boats.

“I’m not a sailor. I wanted to figure out how they work,” she said.

She said the restored boats, all 1930s models and all handmade, are popular. This winter, she restored eight of them and one woman wanted to buy all of them. “I said no. You have to save some for other people,” Rice said.

At the Woods Hole Model Boat Show, she brought a number of her models in progress and was intending to install the sails onto the boats. She pointed to one of the boats that will have four sails. “This is the hardest, most difficult one. It will be amazing,” she said, of the completed boat.

Perhaps the most lively part of the show is seeing the “sailors” racing their model boats in Eel Pond.

One of them is Bob Williams of Yarmouth, a member of the Cape Cod Model Sailing Club. He was sailing his sloop Victoria in Eel Pond. He was intent on working the buttons to sail his radio-controlled vessel.

boats04With the intense looks on the face of Williams and others, one might surmise this is a serious sport.

Not so, said Jay Burnett, steering committee member of the Woods Hole Historical Museum, which puts on the show.

“They are serious about having fun,” he said.

Burnett is in charge of the chase boat for the races. He goes out and gets the boats if they get stuck. “It happens all the time,” he said. But he said on Saturday, “These guys are good. We haven’t had to retrieve a boat yet.”

Jim Linville is in charge of organizing the model boat races during the show. He explained, “We sail with the same rules as the big boats. We may not look like it, but we do.”

Linville said he sailed full size boats for years. “Like most of these guys, I’ve raced big boats, and this satisfies my competitive streak, he said.

He said it is a fairly inexpensive sport to get into.

“I can buy one of these boats for what I buy a halyard rope for on a big boat,” he said.

And then there are the guys who build ships in bottles. They are a special breed.

Tony Colton of Quincy, Alex Bellinger and Jerry Ross posed together for a photo. “It’s not often you get three ships in a bottle builders together,” Bellinger said.


Laura M. Reckford


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About the author

Laura M. Reckford

Laura M. Reckford is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. She has been a reporter and editor on Cape Cod for more than 20 years in magazines, newspapers and radio. She has also authored numerous Frommer's Travel Guide editions on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

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