Article by Steffan Meyric-Hughes of Classic Boat for ‘The one that got away’.
Built by Thai boatbuilders using adzes at a three-century old yard at Chun Buri, near Bangkok, in 1972 to the sort of strength I’ve never seen in a wooden boat before. Neither has her American owner/charter skipper, Mike Brown – and he used to be a tugboat skipper.
The planks and frames are in an exotic hardwood called Maitaikenthong which has a specific gravity of 1, meaning it barely floats in water – and the hull planks are 2in (50mm) thick. Then you have the frames: 4in by 4in (100mm by 100mm) at 16in (40cm) centres. Then, just in case that’s not enough, it’s all diagonally cross-strapped, Herreshoff style, as is the deck, in Burma teak. Every plank in deck and hull is full length, and for Russamee‘s final trick, all fastenings are by wooden trunnel. She has an all-up displacement, with equipment, of nearly 40 tonnes and the cabin sole is the original Burma teak parquet.
“She needs 10 knots of breeze just to get going” says Mike. “But she’s an amazing seaboat. I raced her in 50 knots of wind last year – and she came second.”
Russamee‘s history includes a British spy mission into China and Vietnam in the 1970s and she’s never needed any significant work in her 39 years afloat.