Notwithstanding the fact that every hobby I’ve ever been involved in has been concerned with attracting new blood, it’s always good to put anything available, whenever available, into the local paper. Herewith, my latest epistle:
Plainville?s Only Yacht Club
Huh? A yacht club? In Plainville? Well, yes and no.
We are the Paderewski Model Yacht Club. Radio-controlled power boats are just boats. Sail-powered model boats, on the other hand, are officially designated as ?yachts?, and that?s what we sail on the pond at Paderewski Park.
When I started this letter, I left it up to the editors to decide which section of the newspaper to place it in. We could be on the Religion page, since devotees of our hobby sometimes approach it with an attitude akin to religious zealotry. The Seniors? page? I, at 47, am the youngest active member with the oldest being 80-something. One of our regular guests, Chris from the other side of the pond, is 8 - and a fine sailor - so the Senior page is out. How about the Politics section? Well, no - we don?t argue with the same enthusiasm as our town?s politicians. It?s not a sport, really, since none of us work out for better performance and wouldn?t recognize ladder-like abs unless they were pointed out.
So, we fit somewhere in the middle. Radio control yachts are a relaxing hobby. Many different skills are used, but none are required. If you like scale modelling, you can build a fine replica of a sailing yacht of the past. If you?re into cut-throat competition, our races are highly competitive with tactical skill coming to the fore. Paderewski Model Yacht Club isn?t a racing club, per se - we?ll let other clubs go in that direction. We hold informal races on a regular basis, but the winner takes home nothing more than a congenial ?Nice Race! How?d you do that??. If you like electronic minutiae, our radios range from $10 ?Ebay Specials? to state-of-the-art transmitters with all kinds of bells and whistles. Sailing, in and of itself, is a hobby requiring attention - you generally have to remain awake to win a race. Boats are available that require no building and minimal maintenance, if model-building is a foreign language to you.
Our boats range in price from less than $100 to $2,000 (don?t tell the wife!). While the smallest is a scale replica of a turn-of-the-century Maine lobster boat (only 15? long), the largest is a 57? 45 pound 2-masted schooner. In between is a mix of boats, generally 3 to 5 feet long. The boats themselves are available in local hobby shops (Bristol Hobby on Farmington Avenue in Bristol is a sponsor), on the Internet (start at www.amya.net) or from club members.
The boats don?t wear out! As a former R/C airplane pilot, I can bear witness to the superiority of gravity over my flying skills. After a wreck, I?d supplicate myself before the family treasurer and request a distribution of funds to replace the airplane now residing in a garbage bag. Our yachts, in contrast, are on average about 10 years old. The oldest yacht is over 30 and still winning races! A ?wreck? consists of the yacht gently grounding itself on shore followed by a grumbling skipper nosing it back into the pond. Yes, we?ve sunk one (or two). In that case, after all the hooting and laughing has stopped, the yacht is brought home and set in the sun for a day or two, allowing the electronics to dry out.
If you?re free on a Wednesday evening or Saturday, stop by the pond and relax with us. We usually have a spare boat or two available for bystanders to try. If you don?t want to sail, just come by and admire one of Plainville?s nicest parks!
PS: Thanks to Dick Corliss, Plainville?s Economic Director, for his role in securing funds to renovate the public bathroom at Paderewski and Norton Parks.
PPS: Is there any chance of the town installing more benches at the pond? Since, at times, we have 25 or more people sailing and watching, benches would be welcome! With more people at the pond, vandalism has been eliminated. If the geese could be convinced to stop their own form of ?vandalism?, all would be well.
There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Kenneth Graeme, Wind in the Willows.