Saturday, May 26, 2012

Local Man Recreates Family History

News to Know
by Amanda Causey
Joe Curry, a Key West Conch, holds his very first model of his
Great Grandfather’s schooner “The Carpenter’s Revenge.”

 15 years ago, Joe Curry and his late wife Diana were doing some family research in Green Turtle Cay Bahamas. Mr. Curry, a Key West native, has ancestry that ties back to the Bahamas. While he was at the Albert Lowe Museum he saw a model schooner and original photograph of a well known boat “The Carpenter’s Revenge” on display. This schooner belonged to his sixth great grandfather Gideon Lowe. “My great grandfather built it, captained it, and sailed all over the Caribbean; Cuba, Florida, Bahamas and West Indies delivering goods.” Curry took a photo of the schooner and went home with the mindset to build. 150 hours and five to six months later, he completed his first ever model schooner.

This boat was the only thing that survived in
his son’s home after Hurricane Katrina.

“I drew the blueprints myself. I have never had an interest in building models of any kind, so this was all very new to me.” “I have sold a few but I get very attached to them. My daughter has 3, my brother has one, and I have 6 here.” One of those include a schooner he built for his son. “They do float. I’ve never floated one personally, but I have one here that I built for my son. He was in Hurricane Katrina, and had went home to check on things. In knee deep water, he lost everything, but this boat was floating in the middle of the living room. I don’t build them to float, but I’m glad this one did.”

He also has built a model of Schooner Western Union. This schooner was the last that was built in Key West back in 1939, also the year that Joe was born.  This ship repaired and maintained undersea telegraph cable throughout Key West, Cuba and the Caribbean, and has only recently been named a Florida State Monument that will be converted in to a maritime museum.

After losing his wife to a brutal battle with cancer, Mr. Curry had lost interest in building but has recently started again. “I’m like an artist or author; you kinda have to be in the mood to build. This is the first one I have started in quite a few years.”
Mr. Curry works on a sailboat,
his first model in several years.

“I just look at the pictures, draw them to scale and build them.” He is currently working on a small sailboat. He uses balsa wood and builds each part by hand.  His tools are what some would call vintage but those tie him back to his ancestry of how things were not built with power tools…only by man power.

Mr. Curry, a retired educator, has written a how-to guide to building schooners. “After I wrote the book, I went back and built a model step by step, so I know that whatever experience you have you will be able to follow this book and build a schooner with no problem.” Building a Model Schooner (Using Balsa Wood) is available for purchase and has many photos and tips perfect for beginners.

If you would like to contact Joe Curry please email him at joe_conch@yahoo.com.


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