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Monday, November 4, 2013

This year has been a crazy one and we will be unable to attend the Waterfowl Festival as we usually do...


 ...there is another new, and for true enthusiasts of model boats, perhaps more interesting, show being held in Oxford, Maryland on Saturday, November 9th. You may or may not know their names, but the lineup of talented model makers is quite impressive, thanks to Master Model Maker Ed Thieler who organized the event.

I don't know the whole list of model makers that will be in attendance, but I do know that in addition to Ed Thieler (Chesapeake vessel expert noted for the precision and beauty of his boats and dioramas), Capt. Eddie Somers (Smith Island native and Chesapeake boat expert), Capt. Don Willey (specializes in Chesapeake and various other craft and is a Marlinespike expert), Capt. Ron Fortucci (Half-hulls, Pond Yachts, professional cabinet maker and sailor), Jim Wortman ( model maker and historian from New York's famous South Street Seaport Museum)  and others will be there, many of whom will be talking about their models and/or the history of the boats they've replicated of the Chesapeake Bay. We'll be there too, with our models and books and we will be discussing “photogrammetry”.

Whether you know their names or not, their works are among the finest in the region and the models that will be there will be something to behold. It will be a rare assembly of such highly talented artists of the type. Some models will be for sale (if you're looking for something different for Christmas), while other models, for display only, will make you say “Wow!”

As great as the Waterfowl Festival is, it's worth taking the side trip to Oxford. You won't find anything like this at The Waterfowl Festival and if you like fine carvings and art, you are certain to love the model boats that will be at this show. After all, the heritage that makes the Waterfowl Festival what it is could not have been without the boats.

Come to the Model Show at the Oxford Community Center, in Oxford, Maryland, from 10:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday, November 9th, 2012.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

“World's Best Ship Modeling Magazine”... what it says on the cover. There's a simple reason. It is. The information, covered in exquisite detail, is vast and comprehensive and is provided by some of the best ship modelers in the world. “Seaways Ships in Scale” lives up to the description.

It's a bit daunting to think that our little book was to face the scrutiny of anyone affiliated with this great publication. In fact, the reviewer of our book was none other than Kurt Van Dahm, President of The Nautical Research Guild, which is responsible for what I believe to be the world's greatest collection of information of interest to ship modelers. We've had a link from our website to theirs for many years. They have information about vessels, information about techniques, information about where to obtain plans, information about where to find supplies, information about maritime libraries, information about professional model making services and much more. See the link below to check out The Nautical Research Guild.

In our career of writing about model making, this is really our moment of truth. The moment when the best of your peers say yay or nay. We've had several reviews that have been nothing but positive up until now, for which I am extremely grateful, but these guys...

I approached my first look at the review of “Fundamentals...” with some trepidation. Initially, I was concerned, because the table of contents had modified our book's name to “Fundamentals of Modeling Marine Boats”. Uh-oh!

When I got to page 72, my moment of... well... concern... all of a sudden became one of great satisfaction.

I think that when you see this sample of the superlatives you'll understand what I mean:

This approach enables them to thoroughly explain aspects of modeling that are often skipped over in other books”, “In my opinion they hit the mark with this book”, “The way even basic information is presented opened my eyes and taught me a few things”, “very clear photographs”, “Some of the drawings are done in a full color 'computer generated' manner for showing the various hull sections or lifts that provide a very clean and easily understood drawing”, “The book goes into great detail”, “provides a real learning tool”, “provides some great examples”, “The thinking like a model maker theme is referred to throughout the book which I found to be very appropriate as this is one of the most important skills a model maker can and must learn”, “the authors provide a logical sequence”, “provide very good, basic information”, “How to interpret and understand mechanical drawings is covered very well”, “presented in a very clear and understandable manner”, “providing thorough descriptions and examples”, “Again, they used a very basic presentation to make a very good explanation of a fundamental skill that one must thoroughly understand”, “a point that more writers should make”, “will provide a very clear understanding of the various lines and measurements one sees on a set of drawings”, The authors provide some of the best photographs illustrating the lift building method that I have ever seen and their explanation of the process will leave the novice scratch builder with few if any questions about the process”.

Mr. Van Dahm did provide one criticism: He felt that the order of some of the chapters were not in the sequence that he would have chosen, but stated: “That said, the usefulness of this book is not diminished by the arrangement and should not make it any less attractive or useful to the intended audience.” I wrote to him and explained why I chose the order of the chapters in question and he responded that their order made perfect sense, given our intended goals.

He concludes his review with this:

This is a book that I think belongs in the library of every novice to intermediate scratch modeler and those modelers who are considering scratch building. The authors have made this book very understandable to those who have held off because of unanswered questions or who have found it hard to grasp the information from other books. The reading and study of this book would be good preparation to help in understanding some of the more advanced texts on the subject.”

This is what the World's Best Ship Modeling Magazine said.              I'm happy.
For a signed copy of our book, "Fundamentals of Model Boat Building" please go to
(If the font looks funny please let me know. I have seen some funny looking font sizes with the advent of  IE10...)
To explore the vast information available from The Nautical Research Guild go to
To learn more about Seaways Ships in Scale go to

Friday, May 24, 2013

Every June, On The Weekend Of Father's Day,

there is a show in St. Michaels, Maryland, that to me, is special in a way unlike any other that I know of. Let me say that I've been to a lot of shows over the years. It's formal name is "The 26th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival/The Arts at Navy Point".

Feel free to print this poster and show it off
It is one of the grandest expositions of fine old mahogany and chrome boats in the country: it is, in fact, the largest show of the type in the Mid-Atlantic region. It's location, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, is a setting that is perfect for the show's many aspects. Being on the Miles River, which connects directly to the Chesapeake Bay, stately motoryachts come from many parts of the East Coast. Many boats simply cross the Bay from the Western Shore or come up or down the Bay from various Eastern Shore locations. Boats arrive on trailers from all over the US and often from Canada, as well. There are runabouts, utilities, race boats, cruisers, launches and virtually everything that you can imagine in between. Because these boats are in competition for best restoration to original condition, they are all in "Bristol" shape and when you see 120 to 130 of them together, it's quite a sight.

There are several Antique & Classic Boat Festivals throughout the US and Canada and I think that they are all worth checking out. We attend a number of such shows each year and they all have their strengths. What I like about St. Michaels is that there is a type of synergy that has developed over the show's 26 year history. In particular, and for reasons that I'm not sure that I understand, it has had a good relationship with the arts. Having been among the first vendors that were part of the show, many years ago, I remember that the first group had a number of artists in it. Some of them still do this show, almost 20 years later.

Talk about use of "Style"
While I don't understand how it began, this connection between the boats and the arts has grown in a very natural way and the two worlds compliment each other amazingly well. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the boats, most of which were designed to be stylish in their times, and which are in such pristine condition are art in and of themselves. Making old and worn boats young again is an art form in no uncertain terms. Understanding how to do research, learning about history, and applying techniques of woodworking, metalworking, finishing, graphics, etc. are all types of multi-media art and artisanry.

I often hear people say how beautiful the St. Michaels show is. That it is balanced and makes people feel good. There are a lot of reasons for that. There is a lot to do and a lot to see and the people are friendly. Again, the Museum's grounds are beautiful in mid-June when the weather is "just right". I
think it looks better with lots of beautiful boats all over the place. ...and if you haven't been to St. Michaels, it really is a great place to be.

Everyone has a reason for liking boats, or not; art or not, and what I see in this may seem like a figment of my imagination to you. I have no problem with that. I will say that you should come to this show and think about what I'm saying here and see what you think for yourself. Even if you think I'm crazy, there are a lot of other things to see and do at the show. Whatever you like, I'm willing to bet that you will love something about this show.

The 26th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival / The Arts at Navy Point

For a list of this year's artists and vendors go to

For more show information, or to register a boat go to

For information about the town of St. Michaels go to

For Accomodations during the show go to

Thursday, March 28, 2013

From Classic Boats to Exquisite Birds...

Katz restored Cobra
Bird enjoying the Lake Dora Show
Show season is seriously underway. Two days to Tavares, Florida, three days of show and two days home. When we get home, it turns out, we really weren't gone for very long. But, the whirlwind of travel, of seeing faces that we know well, but only from this distant show, of seeing faces that we know from almost everywhere that we travel to, of meeting new faces and of spending time with friends and family who are in this distant place, make it seem like we've been away for ages. 
Flying Saucer FiberClassic

It's been about eighteen years since we started this annual journey to Lake Dora where the Sunnyland Chapter of The Antique & Classic Boat Society hold one of the great shows among antique and classic boat shows. It's a given that we will be there next year; “first space to the right of the entrance”.

First booth to the right of the entrance

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is 20 Miles Long!

The drive is as intense as the show, considering that we spend more time in the car than we do in our booth. Route 95, although perhaps a bit faster, doesn't interest us as much as taking those roads that have mom & pop motels, local eateries, farms, houses, and reveal local cultures and industries.

Incredible O.J. Citra, Florida

You can't really see anything from Route 95 and with a good map, and especially with GPS, it's hard to get lost anymore. For the most part, these are also 60 mph roads and I don't think that they cost us anything in terms of time.

The Real Callabash, N.C.

Just as we see familiar faces at the show, there are familiar landmarks along the roads; architecturally interesting old houses and buildings, towns that still hold their character, and because we are on the cusp of Spring, places where the season is much further along or farther behind.

Tara, once upon a time???

As I've said before, this is where we find the great Barbecue and Seafood restaurants that we like so much.

Santee, S.C. at sunset

Swan Pair by Ed Kuhn
This year, we may as well not have gotten out of the car. We arrived home late on Tuesday night. Friday morning (tomorrow) we leave for Chincoteague, Virginia. It's the Easter show down there, with a totally different set of familiar faces. We've known them for a lot of years, as well. The ratio of drive time to show time is a bit different. Two hours of driving (each way) and two days of show: Friday and Saturday.

The Chincoteague Easter Show is not about boats; it's about birds (although there are a few of us that make model boats too). Some of the best carvers in the country come to this show. There are also other types of artists who are truly outstanding in what they do. We're looking forward to spending time with Mary Lou Troutman, Ed Kuhn, Bill Veasey, Shannon Dimmig, Don and Donna Drew, Grover Cantwell, Russ Fish, Bill Hickson, Rocky Detwiler, Donnie Thornton,Bill Cowen, Denise Bennett, Joan Devaney, Nancy Richards West and many, many more great people. I definitely recommend this show and you have to know that it's pretty special for us to look forward to it after the intense trip to Florida. Here is the show website: 
At the 2012 Easter Show
Actually, the Chincoteague Easter show is about the arts and like an ACBS show is centered around boats, so is this show centered around birds. It's really worth the trip from wherever you are. It will be good to have a couple of weeks without travel before our next show: The Bay Bridge Boat Show. That will be another story... At least this year, we don't have to drive to New York on Easter Sunday to put a large half-hull on the wall like we did last year.

See you at the Show!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Let the Show(s) Begin!!!

Our 2013 show season is about to start in a big way. We are off to Tavares, Florida for the Annual Lake Dora Antique & Classic Boat Show. It's one of the biggest in the country. It runs March 22nd-24th, 2013. For more information go to All of the images in this story come from the Lake Dora Show. Click on any of them to get a better view.

This show features antique & classic boats (see the article listed to the right for more about what they are), sea-planes, Amphicars, Jersey Skiffs and other raceboats, as well as a variety of vendors. People come from from all over the US and Canada to be there. The boats are always special. Among the vendors are The Rope Locker,, Bar Craft Boat Bars, and many, many others too numerous to describe here. It's worth seeing for yourself.
 This is the first in a series of three antique & classic boat shows that we have done yearly for nearly 20 years each. Those are Lake Dora, Florida in March, St. Michaels, Maryland in June (the largest antique & classic boat festival in the Mid-Atlantic and a personal favorite) and Clayton, New York in August (home of the Antique & Classic Boat Society).
Of course, we also do new boat shows and we will be at the Bay Bridge Boat Show in Stevensville, Maryland April 20th– 21st. It's Big! Antique & Classic Boats will be there, as well, sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of The Antique & Classic Boat Society.
Check out their website at

 Since most of our models involve carving wood, we get invited to many Carving/Decoy/Art shows. In fact, as soon as we leave Lake Dora, we'll be headed to the Easter Decoy Festival in Chincoteague, Virginia on Friday and Saturday, March 29thand 30th. We will also be at the Havre De Grace Decoy and Wildlife Art Festival in Havre De Grace, Maryland May 3rd– 5th. In November, we'll be at the world famous Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland.

We've written some stories in the past about some of these shows with lots of photos on this blog, so you might want to take a look back. For our current show
schedule go to


It's probable that we will be adding other shows and book signings throughout the year, so put the address in your favorites and check it for new additions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We Got This Email The Other Day...

Our book, “Fundamentals of Model Boat Building”, has received many excellent reviews from some very knowledgeable people, but I don't think that any is more meaningful than this one. It's not a review in the standard sense, but I think that it speaks volumes.

I am going to let Joe Szymanski do the talking through the email that he sent us, along with the photos of the model that he made, the first model boat that he has ever done, after reading our book.

JOHN - Back in 2011, I picked up a copy of Fundamentals of Model Boat Building when you were at the PRAD Festival at the Calvert Marine Museum. I enjoyed reading the book last winter, but then just added it to my library. Then late this summer & fall, I kept paddling by a pretty like crab skiff on St. Johns Creek and your book came back to mind -- I thought "that would be a fun little boat to try to model from scratch..." So I remembered my camera on subsequent paddles, and tried to snap some pictures of the boat in the water. I had some extra time over the Christmas holidays, so I launched into the effort of trying to estimate dimensions, develop 3-view scale drawings, etc. After several matboard prototypes, I was happy with the basic hull shape and proceeded with a wood model. (See the attached picture for the model in its current state of completion.) I had never built a model boat before...”

This is the photo that he sent with his email...

He continued... was a thoroughly enjoyable experience & mental exercise to go through the process as guided along by your book. Thanks for the inspiration and hopefully I'll see you back at PRAD some year in the future.

Joe Szymanski”

Here is Joe's finished model:

Here's a shot of the subject boat:

We think that when you look at the original boat and look at the first model boat that Joe ever made, he deserves an excellent review. 5-Stars!!! Thank you, Joe!

Joe and I have corresponded by email following this one and he offered to send more photos of his model during the phases of building it. Here are some of them...

Click on any photo to enlarge it.




Have you made a model after reading our book? We'd love to hear from you with photos or not. Our emails are and

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Love Him or Not... (Book Review)

Book Cover Capt. Larry Simns has probably had some effect on your life if you are in any part of the seafood industry, if you like to fish, if you are concerned with water quality, if you love to eat seafood, if you live or work near the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, are a politician in the Maryland State House, or for a variety of other reasons. If you don't know his name, or the only thing that you do know about him is his name, then you should read this book.

In the newly released The Best of Times on The Chesapeake Bay, An Account of a Rock Hall Waterman, Capt. Larry Simns (the n is silent), and co-author Robert L. Rich, Jr. tell the story of how he grew up in the small harbor town of Rock Hall on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He began his education in seafood harvesting at six years old, he went through brutal but valuable apprenticeship with seasoned and unforgiving Captains in his teens and he grew to become a respected Captain and seafood business owner in young adulthood. He recounts how he reluctantly found his voice as he began his rise within local groups of watermen to become a legendary advocate for them and the Chesapeake Bay in response to critical declines in seafood populations in the early 1970s. In his 40 years as President of the Maryland Watermens Association, he was not only recognized for his work by professionals with interests in the fisheries from Maine to Alaska and the Gulf Coast, he also worked with Senators, Governors and U.S. Presidents.

If you spend any time with a waterman,it would be difficult not to notice that theirs are very tough jobs. Many of our neighbors start their day at 3:00am. They work when it's 20 degrees outside. They work when it's 100 degrees outside. The brutal apprenticeship that Capt. Larry went through was important for learning to live in an environment that might be idyllic one moment and potentially deadly the next. There are some very exciting moments in the book. In fact, Capt. Larry went through more than one situation where he almost didn't survive.
He clearly explains how various finfish, oysters and crabs were harvested, having experience with pretty much every method used. He explains how "The Bay" changed after Hurricane Agnes. A resulting drop in seafood harvests coincided. Other factors including pollution from other sources led him to the chain of events that made him the powerful advocate he is. He discusses how he worked with others from various disciplines including biologists, environmentalists, and others to create policies that were not always popular. An amazing journey for a waterman from Rock Hall, Maryland.
There's a whole lot more here and I highly recommend this book. Most of the chapters are brief, but full of information. It provides an education about the Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Shore life, the history of its watermen, issues surrounding its protection and much more. One gets the sense that, knowing he won't be around forever, he would like for this book to help pass critical information to those for whom stewardship of the Chesapeake and the life within it will pass. We should pay attention.
For more information go to:

Book Details

The Best of Times on The Chesapeake Bay, An Account of a Rock Hall Waterman
Lived by Captain Lawrence William Simns
Written by Robert L. Rich, Jr.
Illustrated by Ann Crane Harlan.

ISBN: 9780764342776Soft Cover
288 Pages
42 illustrations