Walking through the picturesque village of Kupino, in Russia’s Belgorod region, the last thing you would expect to see is a large wooden replica of Sir Francis Drake’s legendary galleon, the Golden Hind. And yet, that’s exactly what a local carpenter has been building on top of his small workshop.
Growing up on the coast of Crimea, close to a naval base, Valeriy Vasilevich Kiku dreamed of one day building his own ship and going on a long voyage around the world. Along with other boys in the village, he would spend hours just watching the ships sailing in and out of port, and fantasying about life as a sailor. He never got to fulfill his dream, as he went to study at the Agricultural Institute and became an agronomist, but he never lost his passion for naval engineering.
After moving to the village of Kupino, Valeriy developed an interest in crafts and engineering, creating all kinds of mechanical wonders, from and cannons and catapults, to agricultural contraptions and furniture, all of which are on display at the local center of traditional folk culture. But his most impressive creation is located on top of his workshop – a wooden replica of Francis Drake’s galleon, the Golden Hint.
It all started five years ago, when Kiku discovered a book on ship modelling, which rekindled his passion for naval engineering and sailing. He started tinkering with small, simple models, but quickly honed is skill to a level where he was able to build replicas of famous ships, like the Golden Hint, or French warship Couronne, using wood, papier-mâché, reeds, lead and old fabric. His collection now numbers dozens of models, from Egyptian rowing boats to merchant ships and Venetian galleys, Viking ships, English and Spanish frigates and Russian cruisers.
In 2011, Valeriy Vasilevich Kiku decided to test his skills on a large-scale ship, and the best place for it was the roof of his workshop. he worked on it all by himself, so progress was slow, but after a year, his masterpiece had already taken shape. A 2012 article in Krasnoe-Znamya mentions that Kiku’s plan was to turn the galleon roof into a museum to display all his intricate ship models. However, a series of photos taken by Dmitry Romanenko, and published on his Livejournal blog, still show the wooden ship as a work in progress.
But even in its current state, Valeriy Vasilevich Kiku’s gallleon is still an impressive sight, especially in the middle of an otherwise picturesque Russian village. It features three masts, a crow’s nest lookout point, captain’s quarters, cargo hold and more.