WINDSOR — Roger Anttila’s love of the sea has turned into a leisure-time occupation.

Anttila brings to life the romantic tales of 17th- and 18th-century sailors with model clipper ships he crafts out of timber salvaged from shipwrecks found off the coast of Maine.

Born in Bryantville, Mass., a tiny village near Plymouth, the 76-year-old retired builder quit school in the 10th grade and joined the Navy.

“I love anything to do with sailing,” Anttila said standing next to a model of the schooner Cora F. Cressy, which he completed in May.

The model is carved out of the original timber from the Cressy, a massive five-masted schooner built in 1902 at the Percy & Small Shipyard in Bath that beached on a sandbar in Bremen and was decaying away.

In 1938, a Maine lobsterman bought the Cressy for $350 and had it towed to Bremen.

Anttila said the lobsterman wanted to drill holes in the hull so he could store lobsters, but that didn’t work out. The timber was so hard he couldn’t drill the holes needed to circulate water to keep the lobsters alive.

So, instead, he thought a model would be a nice tribute to the shipyard builders who labored for 11 months to build the schooner.

“With my love of sailing and old ships, if I was 18 years old back in 1902, I would have shipped out on that ship so fast,” he said. “I love the sea.”

For more than 24 years, Anttila built houses. Then he and his wife, Joyce, moved to Maine in 1987.

He hired on as a planner estimator for the U.S. General Services Administration, involved in the construction of government buildings in Bangor, Augusta and Portland and 11 immigration stations on the border of Canada.

Anttila became interested in building ship models after reading “Glory of the Seas” by author Michael Mjelde.

Glory of the Seas, a ship built by Donald McKay in 1869 in his Boston shipyard, was the first model Anttila built. He used ship’s timber found on the ocean’s edge in New Harbor and made all the parts of the vessel by hand.

Photos of the ship, which required 2,000 hours for completion, can be viewed on a website managed by the McKay clan, www.eraoftheclipperships.com.

“It was built from pictures in the book by Mjelde, whom I corresponded with while constructing this model,” Anttila said. “I located him in the state of Washington and he helped me design it. He didn’t include in the plans the sliding scuttle that’s over the wheelhouse to view the sails, but he finally helped me figure out where to put it.”

Many of the parts on Anttila’s ships are moveable — including hatch covers, portable gangways and lifeboat davits, used for suspending and lowering lifeboats.

The ship parts were made from everyday materials. The rigging on the Cressy is made of black-and-tan ice-fishing line, its blocks from wooden jewelry beads, and pumps and winches from pieces of solid brass.

“This is the first ship to ever carry a motorized yawl boat in Percy & Small ships,” he said. “They could lower it from the back to get to shore. (The Cressy) was known as the Queen of the Atlantic because of this. It also had the highest bow of any of the Percy & Small ships. It was 48 feet high from here to the keel. That was the only ship built that way.”

His model of the Cressy — a ship once used to haul coal from Portland to Norfolk, Va., even included miniatures of Cora and Dustin Cressy from an old photograph that shows them admiring the latest vessel to bear the Cressy surname.

Before Percy & Small went out of the shipbuilding business, he said four vessels carried the Cressy name.

Anttila said his next model will be a replica of the Hesper, which has been rotting away on the mud flats of Wiscasset since 1932.

He salvaged timber from that schooner, which the town removed in the spring of 1998. The Hesper was built in 1918 by the Crowninshield Shipbuilding Company of South Somerset, Mass. The Hesper and its sister ship, Luther Little, were dragged ashore in 1936.

“I was there when the crane was taking the ships out,” he said. “They hauled it off to the dump and put the best parts in a barn and I was able to salvage a piece.”

Anttila’s wife, Joyce, 75, said she is supportive of her husband’s hobby. It’s something she could never do, spend painstaking hours crafting each intricate, tiny piece.

“This is his thing,” Joyce Anttila said. “It takes the patience of Job, which I don’t have. I’d rather read a book.”

Her husband said his hobby is a labor of love. He doesn’t build the models to sell. He displays them in glass cabinets in his den for his own pleasure.

“I do it as a hobby,” he said. “If word got out I’m afraid someone would want to buy them. Who does this? Who would take timber of an old ship and build models out of it?”

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408

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