A couple months ago, fellow ship modeler Ed Von Der Porten (you might have read his articles in Seaways’ Ships in Scale magazine), got me lined up with some work for the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. The job entailed doing some light repair work to the large Golden Hind model on display at the Bear Valley Visitor Center at Pt. Reyes Station. I’ve done some various repair work before, but this is the first work done at the a museum level. We worked out the details and the work too place over the past couple weeks, with the bulk of the work done on-site.
The model is one of the Golden Hind, built by Raymond Aker back in the 1950s. The model is HUGE, built at 1:12 scale. I don’t know the specifics of how long it took him to build the model, but it’s not an ordinary model, it’s a cut-away, showing all the interior and structural details.
Raymond Aker was an artist and there are many signs of that in this model. The first thing that’s noticeable is the use of forced perspective to make the viewer feel a lot closer to the model, almost as if one was on the deck. It’s quite a visual experience and must have required an enormous amount of planning.
While the mainmast is normal in all respects, the features of the fore and mizzen masts are purposely distorted. Below is a photo of the mizzen crow’s nest. You can see that the mast cap is skewed and also the tenon. Not only that, but if you could see the squared sections of the mast, like the heel of the mizzen topmast, you’d see that was distorted too. Even the positions of the shrouds are slightly moved.
You can also tell that the builder was an artist when you look at some of the painted details inside the ship, like the stern chaser, which is a painted cardboard cutout. All of the figures on the model are made the same way, and clearly painted using watercolors with very nice shading and highlighting.
When you look at the ladders, you’ll notice false shadows painted below each step. Also, in the above photo, you can see how the upper deck shows bright red bulwarks, which are much more subdued in the shadows of the deck below.
There is, of course, much more to see about this model, and if you’re in the area, I highly recommend taking a drive out to Pt. Reyes Station. It’s a nice drive, and there lovely scenery and hiking out there. The model itself is in the Bear Valley Visitor Center inside the theater.
As for the repair work, it’s all done, mostly some small rigging repairs, such as the spritsail sling, fore lower yard starboard lift, the fore topsail bowlines, mizzen parrals, etc. Also, the thread holding the bolt ropes to the sails is very fragile and has come off in many places, so I did some work on those.
Working on a model for a museum presented some new challenges for me. First, was doing all the work on-site, second, was that the model was so large, it had to sit on the floor, and I did most all of the work standing, lastly, due to strict standards of preservation, I had to do all the work wearing gloves. That’s something I’ve never done before, and it took some getting used to.
As it turns out, it wasn’t all that bad. Working with small parts in particular, I discovered that I never dropped any small parts while wearing gloves. And, as any ship modeler out there knows, dropping parts is one of the most frustrating occurrences in ship modeling, as parts dropped are often never found again. I may just have to try using gloves more often.
The only problem with these surgical gloves is that my hands get sweaty. Fortunately, I had some very thin cotton gloves I could wear inside these, and that helped out a lot.
The model is now done, and around 4pm yesterday, we lifted her back onto her display cabinet, and the acrylic panels were put back into place. There is also a new backdrop that seems to really bring out the color on the model and really makes it pop. This is a neat model. Go see it if you can. Ω