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Model-boat builders display their time-consuming work during Halifax showcase

HALIFAX - With the precision of a ship's captain, Michael Oddy inspects the miniature vessel he crafted, ensuring every detail is just right, down to the positioning of the crewmen to the hammocks stored in the netting.


HALIFAX - With the precision of a ship's captain, Michael Oddy inspects the miniature vessel he crafted, ensuring every detail is just right, down to the positioning of the crewmen to the hammocks stored in the netting.

The palm-sized version of HMS Shannon - one of the attractions at a two-day model-ship showcase in Halifax - is part of a diorama Oddy's been building of the British naval base in the port city during the War of 1812.

Oddy, 71, won't say how long he's been toiling away at the project, but he admits work began before he retired. That was seven years ago.

"People say to me,'My, you must have a lot of patience to do this and show this details,"' Oddy said Sunday, on the final day of the annual exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

"I always tell them no, it doesn't take any patience at all. I do this for fun. And I jokingly say it keeps me off the street and out of mischief."

Dozens of vessels of all sizes - from warships to a pirate ship to a model of the Titanic - filled the waterfront museum on the weekend.

Like Oddy's version of HMS Shannon, which was best known for capturing USS Chesapeake in a bloody battle off Boston in June 1813, many of the exhibited boats are built to scale and according to historical plans and photographs.

John Green has been modeling boats for 61 years and pores over historical documentation before building his vessels.

One of his vessels features a cabin complete with a bunk and a desk with real drawers.

He's now working on creating models of fabled schooner, the Bluenose.

"I finish my cabins below deck, everything is finished, everything is handmade and I put them together with hand-cut wooden nails," he said.

But not all boats were built to scale or based on history.

Greg Booth, 70, doesn't pay much attention to minute details - as long as the boat can go fast.

The retired dentist built his first radio-controlled boat from a kit when he was just a teenager.

The boat, which was on display Sunday, has changed a lot in the past 50 years. It now features two toy figures sitting in the front seats, and is powered in part by a battery from an old electric screwdriver.

Booth said he builds about one boat a year, mostly for the enjoyment of his grandson.

"I like the challenge of making all the parts work, I like to see it go real fast afterwards," he said, a boyish grin spreading across his face.

"I have a whole lot of fun taking something that's nothing and making it into something."

 
 
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