Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat …

The Douglas brothers launch a fleet of model sailboats.

Brothers Brooke, left, and Morgan Douglas race boats in the Vineyard Haven harbor. — Stacey Rupolo

Rob, Morgan, Jamie, and Brooke Douglas are certainly no strangers to sailing; it’s part of the Douglas DNA. The family owns the Shenandoah and the Alabama; the brothers grew up on the decks of tall ships. All the boys have their captain’s license, Morgan and Jamie have skippered the Alabama, and Morgan has also skippered the Shenandoah. All the brothers kitesurf, and Rob set the world’s speed record in that sport.

Sailing is in the boys’ blood, and when Morgan gazed out his office window over the Black Dog Tavern this fall, something caught his eye: a fleet of model sailboats racing off the Black Dog Wharf.

A week or so later, Rob Douglas was watching a fleet of model sailboats from the Martha’s Vineyard Model Yacht Club on the other side of the harbor, off Owen Park, and he asked if he could try one out.

He was hooked.

He came back and immediately said, “Boys, we’ve got to order some of these boats.”

They ordered RC Lasers, RC being short for radio-controlled. They’re about a meter in length, and are patterned after the 13-foot International Laser Class sailboat. The rudder and the sheet are operated from a handheld remote control, there’s a molded keel fin with lead ballast, there’s virtually no assembly required, and according to Brooke, you can be sailing in a matter of minutes. All total, the whole rig costs a little over $300.

“They’re simple to use,” said Rob. “The only problem is that at my age, my eyesight can be a bit of a liability. I occasionally have a little problem judging the turn on that far buoy.”

The brothers have had their boats for about a month now (Brooke is still waiting for his to be delivered). And for the most part, they race against each other, although they said that several members of the Martha’s Vineyard Model Yacht Club came over and raced with them about a week ago.

“When it gets too cold for going out in the big boats,” said Rob, “this is the next best thing.”

“You really should get one of these,” Morgan said to me as I was leaving.