R. "Rev" Gomes Jr.
has built replicas of ships for more than 25 years.
Working from his home in
Fairhaven, Mr. Gomes estimates he has made more than
50 boats in the past 25 years.
of his models have been as tiny as three inches long,
but most are much bigger, including one of his most
recent, the Ernestina, which stands approximately 4½
feet long and 3½ feet high.
Gomes attributes his love for the craft and many of
the skills he's acquired to watching Mr. Almeida, a
noted model boat builder who carved his ships from
wood. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Almeida was featured in a
30-minute documentary, "American Treasure, the
Folk Art of Joaquim Miguel Almeida," produced by
hull of his Ernestina, made working off ship
blueprints, was constructed of thousands of coffee
stirrers. The ship has full rigging with figures of
Cape Verdean sailors working on deck, authentic ship's
colors and miniature anchors, lanterns and life boats.
Some of Mr. Gomes' replicas even
include magnifier glass in the port holes, allowing
viewers to see the detail below deck.
Gomes scavenges materials from his home, making
creative use of everyday items to make the tiniest
details. Popsicle sticks are fashioned into miniature
pulleys and a mustache brush used to make a tiny broom
for the Cape Verdean figure who sweeps the ship's
deck. Simple dowels become convincing waterkegs and
pipe cleaners curled round rigging turn into rat
guards -- wraps that ships used to keep rats from
climbing the ropes. Even coffee grinds are useful in
staining the sails to give a more antique appearance.