Midwest's Sakonnet
Day Sailer
If you've never built a wooden ship model before, I suggest you start with a relatively simple kit. Don't discount the short time to completion for your first model. Many of us are used to instant gratification. Committing to 6 months to a year, or even much longer (large ships can take thousands of hours to complete!), to build a single model is really difficult for most of us until the hobby gets in the blood. Once you get the first model built, you'll likely be ready to tackle a more complex project next time, but it is critically important to get the first one built. A relatively short build time makes it much more likely that you'll finish the kit. Let me just say this again because I think it's so important. I can't tell you how many models I started and never completed. Building and finishing a simple model was a key for me to successfully completing bigger projects. If you try to start with a large, 3-masted, 100-gun, 18th-century man-o'-war, your chances of success are so slim as to be almost non-existent. I was persistent enough to stick with the hobby over the years, despite my lack of success, Many people try once and throw their hands up in despair, never to try again.

There's another aspect to consider with the first model - acquiring the needed skills. If you hope someday to build truly fine models rather than something just hacked together, you need to learn a host of new skills, including working with very small pieces of wood and metal, painting, soldering, carving, planking, etc. Your first attempts at these new skills are likely to produce less than perfect results. But your proficiency will increase over time if you apply yourself to learning and improving. Bottom line is, you're not likely to produce a museum-quality model with your first (or possibly even your 10th) model. Each model should get successively better but you're going to make a lot of mistakes on the first few models. Why waste these mistakes on the finest-quality and most expensive kits? My first major kit after the Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack was Bluejacket's Smuggler — a very fine kit indeed. To be honest, I did OK with that kit, but I now wish I'd had a few other kits under my belt before I did that one. I know I could do a much better job on it now but I doubt I'll ever want to build it again.

I used to recommend specific kits on this page, but some I used to like have gone out of production and new kits come onto the market frequently.. So I have two suggestions - look over the models I've built to see if there's anything that strikes a chord and take a look at some of the build logs for kits on Model Ship World forum. It's a great, free resource and you'll see build logs for most of the popular kits on the market.You should consider joining (again, it's free) and posting a build log once you decide on the kit you want to build. You will get plenty of help from forum members.