Setting Sail: An Introduction to Model Boating

Model Boating is just one of many past-times that has been pushed to the way-side in the last few decades.

There’s something so blissfully relaxing about taking to the water on a remote-controlled boat, it’s akin to an out of body experience which allows you to leave all your worries on shore, whilst you drift serenely through a peaceful lake. In this brave new world of mindfulness and mental health awareness, it’s a real shame that model boating isn’t more popular. Although the hobby does take patience and a small amount of initial investment, once you’re past these obstacles you’ll find that there’s a lot to like about model boating.

I was first introduced to model boating by my grandfather who was the perfect example of how a hobby such as model boating could help rekindle someone’s passion for life. My paternal grandfather was a gruff man when I first met him. He had spent the majority of his life in the navy, despite the time that he put in there he barely rose above the rank of petty officer. He was a product a bygone era, where ‘men were men’, which meant that he smoked and drank himself into ill health by the time he reached the age of 50.

Forced to take an early retirement, he returned home to an empty nest and a wife whose health was also sliding. Within a matter of years he was a widower, wondering what he had done with his life and what he was to do with the rest of it. That was the year that my Dad decided that we should return to his home town, so that we could be closer to our grandfather in his closing years.

The man that we found in Portsmouth was not the typically avuncular grandfather that we were hoping to meet, but a rough round the edges salty sea dog who was not used to being around children and unfamiliar with his newly found sobriety. It was my Father’s idea to buy him the first model boat, he thought it would be something that would focus his mind, but he didn’t foresee that it would become a hobby that would all of us together as a family.

Although our grandfather initially spurned the gift as ‘something for children’, in a matter of days he had finished building it and soon he was scouting out suitable lakes to take his little tug for its maiden voyage. It was a proud day when he gently set Mary onto the tranquil duck pond in the middle of Portsmouth’s park and pushed her out into the water. We hadn’t seen him smile until that day, and it was a smile that didn’t leave him.

I was given Mary for my tenth birthday from my grandfather, it was the first and only gift that he gave me and it’s something that I cherish to this day. On the rare day that I take her out for a spin I’m always reminded of that first smile of his and a similar one comes to my own face.