1st You Have to Build a Little Boat
The Ash Breeze Magazine, Volume 34, Number 4, Winter 2013
by Andy Wolfe
Connor is nine years old. He is a normal sized boy for his age. And he can fit into many spaces that bigger men can’t even dream of, so he had several opportunities to help over the past couple of years with the construction of Miss Sue, Grigg Mullen’s blue ribbon 25-foot Hooper’s Island Drake Tail. Connor likes to hang out with me, and he was ready for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival-his first all guy’s weekend on the waterfront.
On Saturday morning, while Miss Sue was being judged, Connor and I met George and Marla Surgent under the big tent for their annual model boat building program.
My older children had all made boats with the Surgents. George said, “I have been involved with MASCF since its inception 31 years ago.” That first year a small group of people came with their young families and their boats. George noticed that the kids had nothing to “play” with.
What George meant was the adults had their boats to play with, but the kids didn’t. He volunteered to bring model boats for the kids to build and play with the next year… that was 30 years ago and the Surgents have done this ever since. Marla Surgent loves to take pictures and has a photo gallery full of happy kids and their model boats.
Top: A young girl places her boat in the boat pool.
Center: Andy and Connor holding his boat.
Left: A young boy coloring his boat. Center right: Marla and George Surgent.
After several years of building model boats with the kids at MASCF, parents would ask where they could get more model boats. George referred them to local hobby shops, but word came back to George that they didn’t exist. There were no model boat kits similar to the ones George was making for the kids available anywhere. So, the Surgents went into the model boat kit manufacturing business and launched Seaworthy Small Ships in 1993.
After 30 years, many of those kids still have their model boats… and kids of their own.” Every year I hear a story about someone having their boats on display in their home somewhere,” George said, “It makes my heart smile to know that so many people have gotten so much pleasure from our model boats. And, they mean so much to them that they have kept the models all these years.”
This year, at MASCF XXXI, the Surgents introduced their newest addition to the Pine Wood Sailor fleet-a Lug Rigged Yawl. Connor and I got to build a boat for the Yawl’s maiden voyage, and it sailed balanced and beautifully.
You can see the full selection of fine small craft and lots of photos of happy kids, at the Surgents’ website: shop.seaworthysmallships.com.