I have never been much of a boat person, although I have certainly enjoyed the times, we have been out with our friends who have one at their lake house. But still, this has never encouraged me to own a boat. For me, I have steadfastly avoided that memorable old saying of the two happiest days in the life of a boat owner (the day he buys his boat and the day he sells his boat). But that changed, at least in a “scaled-back” way this past summer.
One of the pool toys my wife purchased for our granddaughter to play with in the pool was this little plastic cabin cruiser, that I nicknamed, the S.S. Minnow (from the 1960s TV show Gilligan’s Island).
Over the summer, I always enjoying seeing it float around on its endless “three-hour cruise.” In fact, when the weather turned cooler and I put up all the floaties and noodles for the winter, I left the Minnow out to troll the open pool water throughout the winter. But then I started thinking it might be nice to have a sister vessel to keep the Minnow company.
I searched online for either a sailboat or a speed boat of a similar scale (at 16 inches long, I estimated the toy Minnow to be about 1/12 or 1/18 scale). After several unsuccessful attempts, I finally found this cute little sailboat, although it was probably a bit smaller in scale.
At my suggestion, my wife christened it after our two in-town grandchildren’s names, and it joined the Minnow on its open water excursions.
But as I had explored the many floating options, I kept running across a beautiful, classic Chris-Craft®model.
The little modeler in me began to recognize this as a potential fun project and I began to wonder if I should take the plunge of boat ownership since I had never built a wooden boat model. At the time, I was in the home stretch of building the second of two doll houses for our two granddaughters. They had both been very fun projects and it was a bit sad as I neared completion.
I was at first taken aback by the price for a 1/18 scale model kit, undiscounted at over $250, but then saw other model kits even more expensive. This kit also offered the option of being built as a radio control model which made it sound even more fun once finished. After pondering it for several days, I decided it was worth a try.
Without any prior knowledge of what to expect, I was quite surprised at the large size of the shipping box that showed up on my doorstep.
However, even more surprising was upon opening the box to see how small the model kit box actually was relative to the size of the shipping box.
It was with child-like excitement when I cut the seals on the box and prepared to open it for the first time. There was a bit of nervous anticipation as well as I had no idea what to expect. Inside I found a vast number of parts made from a multitude of different materials; balsa, mahogany, metal, paper, rubber, card stock, and plastic.
My contemplations prior to opening the box were of two schools of thought. Would it be a box of prefinished parts that simply had to be glued together to make a museum quality model? Or a number of pieces of strip wood that would have to be cut to length, sanded smooth prior to assembly and then varnished for that luster finish? As I ran my fingers across the miniature mahogany planking, I could quickly see it was the latter.
Also, top and center was a very thick envelope. When I opened the folder, I found some additional fragile parts and a 35-page instruction manual along with another 14 pages of very helpful diagrams. As I thumbed through them, I saw that the construction using rib-like framing was going to be similar to the balsa wood airplane models I had fun building many, many years ago. And it appeared that the construction technique was going to be much akin to the full-scale assembly process, a method I have always enjoyed in modeling but only experienced whenever I built in a larger scale. This 1/18-scale model seemed to offer very realistic construction.
My excitement level sored as I pored over the many parts thinking this was really going to be fun. But also, it felt a little intimidating as I had never built anything like this before. Typically, my skill level upon trying something new always improves the second or third time resulting in a first off of less than stellar quality. Hopefully for this kit, I could turn out a high-quality model with my first attempt. Only time will tell.
Stay tuned for future updates…