While most people tried to pick up a new skill or hobby during lockdown, one man from Dundee took on a unique project.
Norman Sutherland, a consultant in Dundee, restored a model of the RRS Discovery – and then took it for a sail next to the full-size version which carried Captain Scott to the Antarctic in 1901.
He got special permission from the V&A museum to sail his ship in its infinity pool in the shadow of the historic original.
Mr Sutherland, who was by no means a model expert, discovered the ship after it was put up for sale during the refurbishment of a Dundee business.
He said: “I saw it and thought ‘Oh quite interested in that’, and went to have a look at it, and it was pretty rough around the edges.
“But I thought it’s a bit of fun, it’s a bit of a project.
“I’m not into model boats in any shape or form, but there’s a bit of local interest there and it’s a model that’s clearly been a very well-built model back in the day.”
Picture of original builder provided inspiration
After bringing it home and starting to tidy it up, Mr Sutherland contacted some friends in the Dundee model boat club, who told him there were not very many of those particular models built.
After some searching, Mr Sutherland came across a story about Bob Topen, the original builder of the model, who had died some time before the Discovery made it to Dundee, in 1992.
Mr Sutherland said: “I came up with an old clip from the early to mid-80s of a picture of the builder, with another member of Dundee model boat club, holding the model down at the unicorn, in what must have been a very early model show of some kind.
“That kind of inspired us to carry on and kind of restore the model.”
‘It leaked like a sieve’
The boat was in rough shape, with parts broken and in need of repair.
Unfortunately, in a first attempt to sail the boat “it leaked like a sieve”, Mr Sunderland recalled.
He said: “Like a full-sized boat, when they’re out of the water, the wood shrinks and gaps appear in the hull. So, it filled up with water very quickly.
“So, we put it back to the workshop and had to reskin the hull to completely reseal and repaint it.
“We then put it back in the water and it floated.”
The ship also got a few upgrades such as new propeller’s, a new radio control unit, as well as some sound effects.
Once completed, Mr Sutherland wrote to the RRS Discovery and the V&A Dundee to get permission to sail the model ship in the infinity pools in front of the original.
Mr Sutherland said the model is now up for sale and hopes that it finds its way into a local collector or museum.
He added: “It’s a local model, so there’s a history of it as a model.”