The first time I saw Burma, I was at the Newport Charter Show. I’d spent the day running around, seeing one luxurious fiberglass yacht after another. They were not all the same: The Newport Charter Boat Show is for yachts that charter in New England in the summer, instead of the Med, and that generally draws a less-blingy kind of boat to begin with, but I had seen sailing yachts and power yachts, yachts with hot tubs, yachts with jet tenders, big yachts and small yachts…even a lovingly refitted old Burger and a flashy Turkish gulet. But I was weary and starting to feel like I’d had the nautical equivalent of Chinese food: All these fancy boats, and an hour later, I was hungry again.
There was a boat I’d noted on the dock plan that seemed, well, very “one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other,” to quote “Sesame Street.” Burma was a 58-foot wooden motorsailer and since I have a soft spot for motorsailers, I decided one more boat wouldn’t kill me. When I found her, off the beaten path in a quieter part of the show, my heart fluttered just a little bit faster. She sat at the dock looking out of place, yet regal, confident. I went aboard and found her owner and captain, Michael McMenemy, exuding the same bemused detachment, as he sat in the pilothouse reading a paperback. I gushed, we bonded, and a few months later my partner and I were in Brooklin, Maine, to join Michael and his wife, Debbie, on a five-day cruise of the region.
We arrived in the late afternoon and decided to get underway the next morning, on a very loose itinerary that would depart the Benjamin River for some day sailing to Southwest and Northeast Harbors. The winds were light so Michael kept the sails covered, explaining that he uses them mostly when offshore or in heavy winds. They add an extra knot to the 8.5-knot cruising speed he gets under power alone, increasing fuel economy, and they also help to steady the boat in sloppy seas.