In episode 2 of The World According to Steve, we explore the incredible reconstruction of the Mah Jong – and how south Georgia materials made their way into one of the most iconic boats in the sailing world.
The Mah Jong, a 52′ sailing vessel was originally constructed in 1957 in Hong Kong and built as a yacht for one of the editors of the National Geographic. After sailing around the world and being featured in the worldwide publication, the boat traded hands several times and eventually fell on hard times before being purchased by Pat Ilderton and restored by Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway in Martha’s Vineyard.
Local sawyer and historian Steve Cross supplied his signature product, Southern Live Oak, for the reconstruction of the boat’s frame.
“They wanted really big pieces where they could cut their curves and shapes – down at the bottom of the boat, it had like “s” curves…I happened to have access to some really large four and five foot trunks and we cut length-wise slices out of them – we call flitches, which you imagine as huge bacon slices of wood.” — Steve Cross on his role in the reconstruction of the Mah Jong
After restoration, the boat has competed and won multiple races and is a wonderful example of historic preservation and restoration. In 2016, the Mah Jong won “best restored” at the Wooden Boat Show and also garnered “best restoration of the year” at the Classic Boat competition in London. You can follow the adventures of the Mah Jong on their website, www.sailmahjong.com.