I wonder if you can help me identify the 'toy' yacht I recently bought on eBay. There appears to be the remnants of the name 'REGATTA' on each side of the bow and the deck has stamped on it a makers mark depicting 'Navigable' and 'Made in France' . In the centre of the logo is a small 5 pointed star which contains the letters M.F.P. The model is carved from wood, is 18" long (460mm) by 7" from bottom of keel to deck and has a pencil lined deck which is tacked to the hull. The colours are in earthy green and brown and the paint appear to be a satin and not a glossy finish.

I plan to bring the model back to a 'sailing' standard yet retain where possible it's vintage charm and character. This is my first restoration I wonder if you could provide any advice or tips.

I have cleaned the wood (mast and hull) using mild detergent and water to take of the worst of the grime and am adverse to sanding or repainting which would remove its years of character. Presently I am considered protecting the surfaces using a number of coats of thinned varnish directly on top of the existing finish to basically seal the wood, keel and masts as is!

Most of the deck and mast rigging fixing eyes have corroded and appear to have been in the form of steel wire driven into the wood and bent over almost to form a staple effect and loop. They have left prick type projection which I cant repair so I have filed them down to be level with the wood these will later be sealed under the varnish top coats.

The keel is cast iron, held on with two countersunk woodscrews, which I have been able to remove, and has a number 9 or 6 stamped into it's top surface which would normally be hidden. The keel appears to have been coated with a gold paint to its surface. The mast block (fixing) is made from steel plate ,which is badly corroded, and has two holes to secure it to the deck. On each side of the mast fixing, there are two holes, the top hole appears to have acted as a pivot and matches with a protruding pin which is driven through the base of the mast however the bottom hole which is about 5mm up from the deck appears to have no purpose as there are no holes or pins at the base of the mast to match it.

I have the mast and sails but no bowsprit which looking at the jib sail must have been fitted as the sail would not fit properly. However front damage to the bow suggests it may have sailed without this as it's slightly bashed! The sails are cotton, thin, torn and need replaced I have searched for similar material and have found that the cotton material used in the manufacture of sleeping bag liners appears very similar and would like advice on its use if perhaps used with a waterproof aerosol spray. There is no topsail so I guess the model was too small for that addition. I plan to dye my new sails in traditional 'cutch' dye to produce the tan colouring recreating that of older sailing models which I think will enhance this particular model despite the original sails appearing white.

I'm not sure how to rig this model and your help on this would also be appreciated. The shrouds appear to have been fixed at four points each side of the deck and the marks on the mast suggest they were connected at the top and 4" above the point of connection of the main sail. There is no rudder so there are no compensating tiller arrangement but you help would still be appreciated on the overall rigging as I am a novice on this. I plan to use 'steel ' screw type eyes to replace the staples but not sure what rigging thread to use.

Finally I have attached photographs to help you with your identification and hope you can help on this as I would love to watch the Regatta take to the water again!




Comment from Russlll Potts, Chairman VYMG

I saw this on Ebay and thought it an interesting commercial model from a source that I know little or nothing about. There is no mention of a company with the logo MFP in Mering and Mestrot 'Canots et Voiliers de nos Bassins' (Paris, 2002), but it might be worth contacting them. Mering runs a shop in Paris called 'Plein Gaz' and specialises in this sort of thing.

Their book does however have photos of boats from the 1930s, sold by a toyshop called Vuitton, that have the deck legend 'Navigable, Made in France' and the hull and fin forms are very similar to this boat. The mast tabernacle is also similar in style. The Vuitton boats all seem to have been called 'Nova', so this one, with a different name, may have been sold by the manufacturer direct, ot through a different outlet.

As to your restoration proposals, it would be possible to seal all the existing paint under coats of varnish, but you would need to be very sure that the seal was good. Despite the attractions of keeping the aged appearance, I would be inclined to go for a proper repaint. As the deck fittings are going to have to be replaced, I would go for brass rather than replacing with more steel, even to the extent of replacing the tabernacle.

The material you propose using for sails sounds as though it is very similar to what we regard as the nearest current substitute for proper Union Silk sailcloth, which is downproof cambric, which is used for lining cushions to keep the feathers in. It is finely woven and waxed, so it is very nearly airtight, avoiding the need to treat it any further.John Lewis, £3.95 per linear metre x 56 inches wide (don't ask why!). I would advise against using a traditional cutch on sails as delicate as these will be. It's filthy mixture and really only appropriate for heavy flax sails on full size boats. If you want them coloured, experiment with ordinary fabric dyes or tea and coffee. If you use Tyvek, you can paint it with acrylic paints.
If you have any further queries don't hesitate to come back.

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