... one of these "things" are the pond yachts made by Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins (GBJ).
For many collectors, the last phrase equals already a "coming-out"... Yes! I am a keen pond yachtsman!
For whatever reasons, there are more proud steam-powered or clockwork-powered boats collectors... must have to do with the technical aspect of propulsion.
For that reason maybe, pond yachts have been classified as toys for children... but don't be fooled, there are some serious collectors out there, with fantastic collections... and resources.
If you still think, pond yachts are for children... well, they are grown-up children and there is nothing wrong about that!!!
While - until recently - you would find literature nearly exclusively about mechanical powered pond boats, 2 persons, in my opinion, have done a brilliant job in bringing the fantastic world of pond yachting out of the shadow, and they are Colin Laker and Thierry Vincent.
I had the privilege to be in contact with both of them... even meeting Thierry personally.
Passionate people are always a pleasure to meet and discuss with for they bring life in completely forgotten worlds... and i hope you get me right, these shadowy worlds are worth to have a look at!!!
And these Jewels get life when one looks at their history...
Colin Laker has had the opportunity to publish his 6 years research on Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins: 2 books of nearly 300 pages each!!! (still available Book 1 & Book 2)
It covers the biography, the production inventory and hundreds of pictures of leaflets/catalogues ... even the biography of the employees at the factory!!! It is just an absolute amazing & breathtaking body of work!!! Just to think that this research has been made by one single passionate person forces respect!!!
How many hours invested!!!
As for Thierry Vincent; In his book on french pond boats (Histoire des voiliers-jouets en France here), Thierry presents the most complete work on these -until then- forgotten & un-researched artisanal manufactures... not only presenting his fantastic collection of pond yachts but backing up his research with meetings with family members and paper material. Just Un-be-lie-va-ble!! It shows you what passion can achieve!
There is an amazing feeling in this book that makes it unique and reflects the best the soul of the author... an indescribable feeling... a mix of nostalgia, of love, of daydreaming...
There is a magic in leaving a pond yacht to its fate and follow it with the eyes... it is surprisingly the most relaxing thing ever!!!
How do i know that?
Well, with the help & advice of Thierry, i restored a 1945-50 Nova pond yacht n°9 (80cm hull, 1m height)... and i do take it for a sail!!!
We exchanged a lot about our adventures and the "fun" of researching... and one phrase of his still resonates in my ears to this day:
"It is easier to be ignorant and pretend to be an expert".I couldn't have formulated any better!
Here is my Nova!
... i have fought against myself for years... restore or not restore... while the Nova was in an appalling state, making the restoration a necessity... my Bowman pond yachts were still with original riggings, sails etc. I didn't dare. That's all. It is a shame. But it is what it is.