Although the Providence Boat Show takes place in February inside the Rhode Island Convention Center, you can still go boating at this three-day Expo. You won’t be heading off the Ocean State coast in snowy weather, but you’ll still enjoy the fun of being on the water–at an indoor pool in miniature boats, thanks to the Marine Modelers Club of New England.
This group of enthusiasts from throughout the region will gather at the boat show to both showcase some amazing model
boats that replicate the real thing and help showgoers experience the fun of remote-control boating.
There are few members of this club who are more enthusiastic than Mike Hale of Taunton (Mass.), who serves as the club’s first officer. A Navy man whose retirement ceremony was held on the USS Constitution in Boston, Hale got interested in model boats when he purchased a remote-control boat for his pool about 25 years ago.
But being used to the real thing after working on destroyers, aircraft carriers, and other large vessels, Hale wanted to improve how his remote-control boat functioned. When he went in search of how to do that, he realized there was an entire world of people building boats in miniature that had the same functions as the actual boats they were modeled after.
“Many of these boats are multi-functional, with working cranes, fire cannons that shoot water 30 feet, grappling hooks, sound systems, operational lights,” says Hale. “You can go as far as your imagination will take you.”
Hale has always been a tinkerer, and his fleet of boats now ranges from 8 to 54 inches. It’s a diverse group of vessels that range from a jet ski, to a 51-inch deep-V-hull racing boat that can go 65 miles per hour, to a destroyer. For some projects, Hale has searched as long as six months for the right miniature parts.
The club meets once a month, from April to October, on Lake Masssapoag in Sharon (Mass.). The Providence Boat Show has become a winter get-together where club members can catch up and showcase their latest handiwork.
According to Hale, the club’s members have electric boats, so they don’t use gas and are non-polluting. Some model boats are powered by steam, but no one in this New England club has built a vessel with a steam engine. At least not yet.
Club members will be stationed at the boat show’s indoor pool, so showgoers can come by and inspect these amazing miniature vessels and try their hand at remote-control boating.
But be forewarned: model boating can be extremely contagious. As Hale says, “You really get hooked.”