Model Boat Mayhem

The Shipyard ( Dry Dock ): Builds & Questions => Yachts and Sail => Topic started by: Briareos on February 13, 2009, 01:52:18 PM

Title: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: Briareos on February 13, 2009, 01:52:18 PM
I've only recently gotten re-interested in sailing (mostly as a model hobby) and don't no much about it but I have a particular affection for "pond yachts" as they call them.  They are very simple and you just send them in the water with a stick and let them sail themselves around...At least that's how I remember it working.

Now don't get me confused with someone who knows something about it, because I don't!

I'm asking if any of you guys have participated in this pastime and have any web/book resources they could share with us?

I also have several other questions....Sigh.

1.  Who makes these boats?  Do most just do it themselves?  Bosun Boats, mostly known for their childish type bathtub boats, makes larger models that seem to be made for pond yachting.  I have one named the "Courageous", simple with one mast, main sail, front jig and rigging and those plastic fittings to keep adjustments tight.  I played a few times in the local pond when I was like 10, complete and utter failure, the geese too offense to the boat and promptly tried to destroy it.  Anyway, I was wondering of Bosun Boats (made by Reeves?) are suitable for pond yachting, my paint is cracking here and there and the keel has rusted a tad where it meets the hulll, nothing serious though.

2.  Do people still actually do this?  (with the advent of RC, it would seem that "free-sailing" would be on the outs)

3.  I've done extensive searches on the net, there are so few resources regarding this matter it isn't even funny.  But I have a sneaking feeling that I suck at the internet.

4.  One thing I've noticed on some pond yachts is that the boom controls the rudder somehow, can someone explain that?

5.  As for my interest in this over RC methods (which I will probably try anyway),  I just like how simple and practical they can be.
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: RemiPjx on February 13, 2009, 04:07:53 PM

some partial informations...
You can find some plans for pond yachts at I've just got the gaff cutter one if you need some info on the level of detail.
There is an excellent site on the pond boats of the Luxembourg garden (in Paris) with nice old pictures of pond boats (click on VV301)
And I'm now building one (sorry, French !)
Question 4: You can "improve" these pond boats with a mechanism called a "vane gear". The idea is to link the rudder to the main sail to try to achieve a straight line. Do a search on this term, there are sites with very detailled explanations on this "old technology".
For example:
For me, the interest of pond boats is to have no electronics and no batteries. "Free sailing" in many aspects...
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: Vintage on February 13, 2009, 06:48:09 PM
Hi Briareos

Take a look at the Vintage Model Yacht Group website -   it's a mine of information concerning the history of Pond Yachts, types, manufacturers, classes, steering gear, etc. etc.

Sadly the site doesn't get updated regularly nowadays but the group meeting are always posted inc. a fabulous one on 4th & 5th of July at the Round Pond, Kensington Gardens.

Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: biggles1 on February 13, 2009, 09:32:02 PM
Hi Briareos  have a look at (southwold model yacht club) on the suffolk coast a great pond. Free running vintage metings hld during the summer  Dave
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: biggles1 on February 13, 2009, 09:41:41 PM
Sorry web address does not work just put in southwold model yacht club Dave
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: tony52 on February 13, 2009, 09:51:37 PM
Hi Briareos,
Built this replica vintage yacht 'Jenny' a couple of years ago. Came as a free plan in Model Boats Magazine 1989. Easy balsa build, Gaff rig, R/C fitted and always a talking point when at the waters edge.

( ( (


Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: tobyker on February 13, 2009, 11:59:15 PM
For free sailing, do not underestimate the weighted rudder - I had one on the hoy before it went r/c and it was very effective. You can either build the weight into the rudder, or fit a reversed tiller and stick a fishing weight on the end of it. As the wind increases the boat heels and instead of allowing the boat to luff up into wind as it would normally do in a gust, the extra heel makes the weight put more rudder on and she stays straight. It's easier to tune with a fairly long keel.

Otherwise you can tie the mainsheet to the tiller, which is kept straight with an elastic band until the gust on the sail makes it put more helm on - and then you can get more and more sophisticated with Braine gears and vanes.
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: John C on February 14, 2009, 04:14:28 PM
I've just watched a programme on't telly which featured Sarah Lancashire (corry orry fame) I think it was disappearing Britain.
They showed a film of a boating pool in Llandudno where shed loads of kids were sailing free running pond yachts, I couldn't believe how busy the pond was absolutely packed with boats!
Put me in mind of my early days, Clapham Common long pond at first (but I never managed to sail a boat from one end to tother cos they all sunk) my dad knew the bloke that cleaned the pond and we got the boats that had sunk, no surprise then that they sunk on their second time out as well !!
Then it was Prince of Wales pond at Blackheath, there were hoards of people every weekend and that was late 60's early 70's. It was a good venue cos by then I had a Triang yacht "the mistral" and it sailed bl00dy good.............but at POW pond as soon as you heard an IC motor start up in those days it was time to retrieve your boat, or suffer the consequences.
I did and my Mistral ended up with a monster crack in the keel which I had to paint with my Mums nail varnish before I sailed it, and it still leaked!!!!!
Happy days  :-)

John C
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: dave301bounty on February 14, 2009, 05:01:26 PM
Hi,   In the warmer weather there is a host of yachts on the water at the  New Brighton  lake on the Wirral. and most of the year there is a sail on at the Gautby road site in the North end of birkenhead ,again on the Wirral.  New Brighton in the summer ,on a Sunday is packed ,and a lot of beautifull looking yachts are on the water ,mine included.
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: George Steele on February 14, 2009, 09:05:17 PM
I believe they are still sailing vane steered models on Spreckles Lake in San Francisco USA, and you may be able to get vane gear from the US Vintage Model Group whidch is affiliated with the American Model Yachting Assn. And they are a good source of plans.
             George Steele
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: malcolmfrary on February 18, 2009, 05:43:08 PM
Great fun they are, but the limitation is that wherever you sail, you need access all around - if they get stuck anywhere, thats where they stay until you, or a willing volunteer, can retrieve them.  This is true of RC yachts, but with RC you can at least try to steer them out of trouble.
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: john cutt on November 11, 2009, 10:56:52 PM
Hi from Invercargill New Zealand
This is my first attempt at a reply so hope it works.
I bought a Seifert Albatros (72cm) free sailing yacht from Float-a-Boat while visiting family in Melbourne back in August. It sailed very well in light to mnoderate winds. But I got tired of chasing it up and down the local boating pond so, on the encouragement of other club members I have converted it to radio control. A very simple conversion that works the rudder. Very pleased with the result and no damage to the great looking yacht from the conversion. And in spite of having to cut into the deck to get inside to install the RC gear, it's completely watertight.
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: Myansome on August 10, 2010, 10:30:26 PM
 {-) Yesm I'd forgotten the jos of legging it around the pool chasing the yacht from one side to the other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good exercise though!!!!!  %%
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: tony52 on August 10, 2010, 10:39:40 PM
This was my vane Marblehead. A pair of running shoes and a pole were required then. Yacht is no longer with me and the lake is now not suitable as the local council have built islands in the middle.

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Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: malcolmfrary on August 11, 2010, 10:57:34 AM
4.  One thing I've noticed on some pond yachts is that the boom controls the rudder somehow, can someone explain that?
Do a goggle for "braine steering", or just go to
It consisted of two lines from the boom to opposite sides of the boat, and a cross-over on their way to the ends of the tiller quadrant which was fitted with a rubber band centring spring.  The rudder didn't actually steer, it more offered suggestions for course corrections to keep a constant heading on the wind.  A true black art to adjust, but there was a good supply of really clever people back in late Victorian times.
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: tobyker on August 11, 2010, 05:48:41 PM
save all the bits of string - just use a weighted rudder.
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: malcolmfrary on August 11, 2010, 10:00:36 PM
save all the bits of string - just use a weighted rudder.
Even earlier, that.  It only took a few months to learn how to get my braine fitted boat to work more or less right, then the rubber band perished and I could learn all over again with the new band.  Ah! The memories of Harrowside in the '50's
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: Myansome on August 19, 2010, 07:33:46 AM
Hi Briareos,
Here's my two from the Beginners Section of this website.
Les Cinq Garcons and the Saucy Sue sailing last Sunday morning!
I have just bought a hull of a yacht via ebay.
Very interested in developing the traditional free sailing Pond Yachting rather than rc ...................... keeps you fit and the grandsons thoroughly enjoy it.
Penzance has a superb rectangular pool.
hey ho
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: Myansome on August 19, 2010, 07:39:36 AM
 :-)) Hi tony52 ......................... cool build! Are those plans still available?
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: Myansome on August 20, 2010, 06:11:13 PM
 :-)) Free sailing pond yachts for me hold a deep fascination. I think that it's childhood memories and now the sheer unpredictability of where and how they will travel. It's also good for exercise and my grandson was captivated by it more so than the rc fishing boat! I think the history side of them also holds a fascination, rather like back to roots!
think I may start a thread?!? hey ho
Title: Re: "Pond Yachting"
Post by: Brooks on August 29, 2010, 03:44:26 PM
If you want simplicity, Seaworthy Small Ships makes great free-sailers. I've built and sailed their Coaster schooner, and Skipjack, while my friend has sailed Cricket and Sea flea. I've also run their rubberband submarine and tugboat. The shipping costs out of N.America are sort of high, unfortunately, possibly due to the new security regulations, sigh. They sell plans for some free-sailers; that would be a cheaper option if you are a scratch-builder.

If you have the right pond (mainly one that you can walk all the way around in a reasonable amount of time), free sailers are loads of fun. Even the simplest boats (SeaWorthy's Pinewood sailers) are lots of fun. They occasionally capsize (far less than I expected), so you need a method of retrieval if that happens. With deep, weighted keels, I've made the larger boats (schooner and skipjack) self-righting from a knock-down, so they only need shoreline access.