SOUTH BEND – A day relaxing at the pond doesn’t always result in lifting a fish out of the water.
For a small group of local enthusiasts, there is nothing better than spending a cool and hot day at Pinhook Lagoon in South Bend or perhaps Fidler Pond in Goshen to test their skills and abilities. their radio-controlled sailboats.
Although large fleets have formed in Chicago, New York and other cities in this country and abroad, the Michiana R / C Yacht Club was only organized a few years ago and is slowly increased to four active members.
In large cities, RC boating may be paired with a country club or yacht club, whose members might be interested in joining such groups to build camaraderie or to express their zeal for competition.
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There are even organizations like the American Model Yachting Association who promote the hobby by organizing events and publishing magazine and newsletters, among others.
In Sarasota, Florida, the Model Yachting Club has about 135 members who meet at Nathan Benderson Park throughout the year to race their single-class boats, said Richard Lomax, who was until recently an editor. in chief of Model Yachting magazine.
But the Michiana R / C Yacht Club is different.
Most members don’t own large boats, there is no home marina, and there is little official racing except when someone issues a challenge like pushing a plastic bottle that might float in. pond or play fetch with notched wooden pieces.
Radio controlled yacht clubs that focus on racing generally require members to have the same type of boat, so most of the difference between winning and losing is a result of the skill of the skipper – or whoever operates the controls. from the transmitter which relays the signals to the rudder and sails.
Members of the Michiana club have an assortment of boats, many of which are handcrafted in their workshops using models and parts available on the internet. âYou can spend as little or as much as you want,â said Andy Baum, 64, of South Bend.
Baum got into the hobby looking for something his son could do outside after being injured in a car crash over 10 years ago. “It didn’t stick with him, but it marked me,” he said.
And then Baum found John Schall, 69, of Niles, sailing his rc sailboats in Pinhook. The two befriended for their mutual benefit and the club was eventually formed.
Other members such as George Jewell, 73, of South Bend, also came to the club – almost by accident – while driving near Pinhook about three years ago and noticing the activity, which Baum described as almost therapeutic.
“It’s a good way to forget about the problems at work,” he said. âYou are going out on a beautiful day and you are completely concentrating on controlling the boat. ”
Although the club is currently populated by four retired men, members hope to expand their circle and their interest in the hobby.
âEveryone is welcome,â Baum said, while showing the features of his handcrafted boat in Jewell’s workshop. “I have taught children and they understand almost instantly.”
In Sarasota, the rc club tends to attract members because of its prominent location in a popular park and the fact that many of the city’s residents are transplant recipients from other states looking for something to do, said Lomax.
âIt’s a great way to build friendships and camaraderie,â Lomax said. “It’s a relatively inexpensive hobby that almost anyone can do.”
Members of the Michiana R / C agree with this assessment, adding that the hobby just requires a little hand-eye coordination to operate the buttons on the remote that control the boat’s rudder and play in the sails.
The cost of buying or building a decent rc boat can range from just over $ 100 to several hundred dollars. Most of the men at Michiana R / C Yacht Club built their own boats using kits or models sold on the internet, but there are also boats available that require minimal assembly.
âYou don’t need to be highly skilled or have an extensive workshop to build your own,â said Baum, who has continued to add to his 1 / 24th scale cargo schooner for several years and thinks that he could keep adding details for years to come.
Baum still wants to add a lifeboat, furniture and lights to the boat, which he plans to move cotton and lumber along the east coast at the turn of the last century. This boat – named Nancy Katherine for his wife – is all about the details, even down to the nautical knots.
Although the schooner is intended for use, Baum has a few others that he also sails, but the Nancy Katherine is the one that often catches the attention of passers-by.
âAndy’s boat is the club’s publicity,â said Schall, who is considered the MacGyver of the group because of the skills he has acquired in building and navigating remote-controlled boats over 50 years. I focus on speed and handling.
Other club members are somewhere between Baum and Schall, mostly just to sail and enjoy the camaraderie of a good day at the pond – or in the workshop.
âWe love to build things and do things,â said Jewell, who said a day of solo pond boating isn’t as good as enjoying it with others.
That’s why the group is looking for new members – people of all ages who might enjoy the relaxation and friendships that can be built on the water’s edge.
âIt’s very relaxing,â Baum said.
Contact: John Schall: [email protected]
Andy Baum: [email protected]
George Jewell: [email protected] or
Bob Mynsberge: [email protected]