Monday, September 27, 2010

Seattle's New Model Boat Pond

Model Boat Pond
Photo & Text © 2010 Kim- Seattle Daily Photo. All rights reserved; no use, alteration, reproduction or republishing in any media.
Move over Paris and New York. Make way for Seattle's huge Model Boat Pond where kids of all ages can sail a replica "Pirate" wooden model boat, hand made by middle school students and rigged to sail quick as lightning under wind power. When I first saw them zipping across Lake Union Park's new Model Boat Pond, I thought they were radio controlled. Not so, they were driven by the wind and the great rigging made by the enthusiasts who have guided this model boat project.

I talked to Paul, the man in red in the photo and a volunteer with The Center For Wooden Boats. He explained how these replicas were modeled after a real boat, the Pirate, found right here in Seattle and that the fleet of the dozens that they have was created by middle school youth. When I mentioned I'd only seen model boats being sailed like this in Paris, he said Seattle had now joined Paris and New York in having a dedicated model boat pond. But it isn't Seattle's first. There had been a huge world class one built at Golden Gardens in the 1930s in the area now occupied by the youth building, grass field, and parking lot. That pond had an amazing fleet of beautiful model boats, but someone broke into the place where the boats were kept, took all of them out on the beach and burned all but two of them. Paul many years later became the owner of one of those two remaining classic model boats. Unfortunately, it was damaged in shipping when he loaned it to a museum for display. He plans to restore it. The old model boat pond at Golden Gardens, he said, was filled in during the 1950s during the height of the US Polio epidemic due to fears it was a potential breading ground for the disease. The park department built base ball diamonds over the site, then abandoned those after a time due to the strong winds in the area. Now Seattle sailors as young as two can learn to help a model boat come about with a tennis ball at the end of a bamboo pole and watch the wind zip it back across the water. Completely charming and captivating. The volunteers keep the rigging ship shape and do a little bailing now and again by dipping a sponge into the hull and wringing it out. Do you see the cart full of boats at the lower right? I saw one very much like it in Paris. To see individual photos, check out my Flickr stream.


Kate said...

What a great addition to a city with so many other attractions. My grandson and I spent happy times sailing these boats in Paris, but the poles did not have tennis balls attached to them...great idea. Thanks for the background information.

Halcyon said...

This will be great fun for the kiddies (and the adults too!).

Anonymous said...

I'm moving to Seattle in March! This blog is great!