Both sailors and naval-history lovers flock to Robert Eddy – a model-maker based in Camden, Maine – to create versions of their favourite yachts, schooners and even simple skiffs. Eddy is the consummate artist: part draftsman, part sculptor and also a talented jeweller by training, whose precise hand creates the intricate fittings that set his custom boats apart.
Commissioning an Eddy model is a straightforward but lengthy process, with most projects requiring one to two years of work and up to 4,000 man-hours to complete. After a site visit to the owner’s yacht or sailboat (where Eddy photographs, films and takes precise measurements to complement original plans), he works closely with the boat’s architect and interior designers to create a perfectly scaled version using only the finest, sturdiest materials that will stand the test of time. It is his sensitivity to a client’s wishes – his roster of business titans includes Tom Perkins, founder of Silicon Valley venture-capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Jim Clark, founder of Netscape, and Lands’ End founder, Gary Comer – that keeps his detailed projects so much in demand.
Working with partner Reuben Brown, Eddy uses cutting-edge technology – CAD graphics, 2D laser-cutting and 3D printing of parts for lost-wax casting – to mould and sculpt topsides and hulls from hardwoods such as mahogany. The boats’ undersides are often carved from basswood sourced from linden trees and models are finished with durable AwlGrip marine paints. Deck details, such as diamond-studded winches (an Eddy signature), anchors, cleats and stanchions, are made using a wide array of precious metals, with white gold the material of choice for mimicking stainless steel, and green gold employed to simulate weathered-bronze propellers. No detail is overlooked and Eddy’s commissions – most of which measure 18-58in in length and range in price from $60,000 to upwards of $200,000 – also include such precise details as compasses and complicated nautical charts.
Recent projects have included the Perini Navi modern clipper yacht Maltese Falcon (second picture); Windcrest (third picture), a 98ft Fontaine-designed ketch; the Herreshoff schooner, Mariette; and Kalevala, a custom Swan 60 with an extended transom. Other yacht miniature models, such as the 154ft ketch Scheherazade, the Andromeda la Dea and Atlantide (first picture), are examples of the artist’s finest and most complex work, with the latter taking more than 5,500 hours to execute.
In addition to handcrafting each replica, Eddy also works with a master cabinetmaker to select woods, finishes and inlays before collaborating on a bespoke display case for each of his objets d’art. Finished models, cases and, in some instances, platform tables, are then sent via an art handler anywhere in the world, with Eddy personally overseeing each installation.
“My real challenge is reducing huge yachts to a scale that makes every detail viewable,” explains Eddy. “If you do things too small, they just become cute objects – not sculptures that celebrate maritime history. My clients want conversation pieces that connect them to their boats and their passion for the sea.”