Messing about in boats since 1975.  Online Since 1997.

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The 82' Trading Schooner


82' Schooner ROYALIST - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
Aft Perspective | Side Perspective | Forward Perspective | Far Aft Perspective
Aft Perspective Sailing  |  Forward Perspective Sailing  |  Aft Close-up Sailing

Copyright 2013 Michael Kasten


Sir James Brooke - First White Raja - by James Grant
Sir James Brooke
Painting by Francis Grant 

The original Royalist was built in 1834 as a 142-ton topsail schooner. The Royalist was probably built in Cowes as a gentleman's yacht.  The Royalist was purchased in 1836 by Sir James Brooke who was planning an expedition to the East Indies whilst circumnavigating the globe.  In preparation for that voyage, the Royalist cruised the Mediterranean in 1837.   In Sir James Brooke's own journal, he wrote:

"On the 27th October, 1838, the Royalist left the river; and, after a succession of heavy gales, finally quitted the land on the 16th December. I may here state some farther particulars, to enable my readers to become better acquainted with her and her equipment. The Royalist, as already noticed, belonged to the Royal Yacht Squadron, which in foreign ports admits her to the same privileges as a man-of-war, and enables her to carry a white ensign. She sails fast, is conveniently fitted up, is armed with six six-pounders, a number of swivels, and small arms of all sorts, carries four boats, and provisions for four months... She is withal a good sea-boat, and as well calculated for the service as could be desired.

"Most of her hands had been with me for three years or upward, and the rest were highly recommended. They are, almost without exception, young, able-bodied, and active--fit in all respects for enduring hardship and privation, or the more dangerous reverse of self-indulgence, and willing to follow the fortunes of the Royalist and her commander through all the various shades of good or evil fortune which may betide.

Thus, as a vessel of the Royal Yacht Squadron Royalist was accorded the same rights as ships of the Royal Navy.   When armed as described with a crew of  24 men, Royalist was effectively a private warship.  As such, the Royalist played an instrumental role in establishing James Brooke's foothold in Sarawak from his first visit in 1839 until he became the first White Rajah in 1841.

Recently, interest has been shown in creating a replica of the Royalist, to be based in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.  What follows is a description of our approach to such a project...


I received this inquiry from Jason Brooke, direct descendant of the White Rajahs of Sarawak, who wished to discover more about the original Royalist.  The idea presented was that there might be sufficient interest in creating a replica of the original vessel.  Naturally, I was immediately interested in the Royalist project.  

To assist in this 'discovery' process, my first task was to research the tops’l schooners of the period which had been built as yachts, both in the United Kingdom and in the US.  They were at that time very much the same on both sides of the Atlantic.  Though many vessels of that period were built as “yachts” many of them were also employed by the Royal Navy as messenger boats and quasi-privateers.  In other words, in exchange for certain privileges, these vessels were at the service of the crown.

I found several references claiming that the Royalist was of a similar type to a vessel of the same period originally built as the “Sting” which was subsequently purchased by the Royal Navy and re-named as “HMS Pickle”.  Within works published by H.I. Chapelle who was the Senior Historian for the maritime collection at the US Smithsonian Institution, I found examples of the lines and rigs of boats similar to the “Pickle”. 

I do not know if these references are conclusive, but whether they are exact or not, it is evident that vessels of that era that were used in this way shared many common features as regards their rig, styling, and general hull form.

Schooner Royalist - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.


My approach to such a request is first to research the original vessel types as described above, then model, synthesize, and improve on the original wherever possible, yet remain faithful to the aesthetic presentation, the ornamentation, and the details of the rig. In other words, to change only those things that actually improve and strengthen the design and its functionality without transgressing the authenticity of the type.

I have designed a number of large wooden boats for construction in Indonesia. They were designed to take advantage of the outstanding local boatbuilding talent throughout Indonesia and Malaysia.  An additional feature of those locally built vessels is the availability on Borneo of Kayu Ulin (eusideroxylon zwageri), the world’s highest quality boat building wood available.

In the case of the Royalist which was originally built in England, the timbers were likely to have been white oak, and naturally the build methods in the West are quite different from the methods used in South Asia.   Thus, one of the challenges with this design is to respect the aesthetic traditions of the Royalist, while taking advantage of the excellent local boatbuilding methods used in Malaysia, and the top quality tropical hardwoods available locally.

It is interesting to note that the Pride of Baltimore II is a good example of the type, both in hull form an in the tops'l schooner rig.  The model shown in the images here is smaller than the Pride II, but has a rig that is quite similar.  Based on preliminary calculations this appears to be an excellent combination of hull form, sail area, and balance.  Particulars of this model are:



A vessel's length is ordinarily given as its "Length on Deck" which is taken as being the length along the range of the weather deck from the aft face of the stem to the forward face of the transom. Basically, Length on Deck is the entire length that you can “walk on”. 

By that method, the model I described above is 92 feet LOD.   That is the size required to achieve 142 tons actual “Displacement Tonnage” – in other words the actual volume displaced by the hull when immersed to the design waterline.  That model displaces 142 METRIC tons. Naturally in the 1830’s displacement would have been measured in Long Tons of 2,240 lb. each, resulting in slightly fewer Long Tons.


"Measurement Tonnage” however, has always been quite a different matter. At the time when the original Royalist was built, the most likely measurement of tonnage was calculated using the British "Builders Old Measurement" rule (B.O.M.) which appears to have been in use in Great Britain from 1720 to 1849. 

The "B.O.M." tonnage was calculated as follows:

Beam is always the “moulded beam” taken as being the maximum beam at the deck to the outside of the planking. Depth is defined as being the height from the underside of the decking at the deck edge to the top of the keel. In the above calculation, the Depth is not directly used...  instead Depth is “assumed” to equal 1/2 of the vessel’s Beam, a convenience to the tax man who would not then have to go below decks to discover the actual Depth, often obscured by cargo.

The Length Between Perpendiculars (LBP) is the remaining dimension to be discovered…  During the period when the Royalist was built, most references defined the “builder’s” LBP as being the length of the keel, taken along the rabbet line (intersection of hull planks with keel) from stern post to stem.   In the above calculation, this “length of keel” is approximated by the function “(Length Between Perpendiculars – (Beam x 3/5))”. By this method a vessel could be easily measured for “tonnage” while afloat, even if filled with cargo.

By starting with a stated original tonnage of 142 Long Tons, and then working the “B.O.M.” tonnage calculation in reverse to discover a Beam and Length Between Perpendiculars that result in 142 measurement tonnes, it became apparent that the 92’ “Length on Deck” model that I created was too large and resulted in a “B.O.M. Tonnage” that is is too high.

In order to achieve a tonnage of 142 by the B.O.M. method, the “Length Between Perpendiculars” should be reduced to 78.7 feet, and beam should be reduced to 20 feet.  In the model, an LBP of 78.7 feet is reached with an LOD of 80 feet. In other words, it became evident that the model should be made smaller in order to be sized correctly according to the tonnage rule in use at the time when the original Royalist was built.

80' Schooner ROYALIST - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
Click for Larger Image


By using the B.O.M. tonnage and changing the vessel size from 92 feet LOD to 80 feet LOD, we come up with the following parameters:

In the stability analysis, it is possible that it may be proven desirable to increase beam slightly or to increase displaced volume by increasing depth or to vary the sail area or the height of the rig. Regardless of those variables, it is always possible to adjust LBP to keep the tonnage where we want it.

As a benefit to the project, by reducing the LOD to 80 feet in order to achieve 142 B.O.M. “measurement” tons, we  have reduced the actual displacement from around 300,000 lb. in the 92 foot model, to ar0und 200,000 lb. in the 80 foot model.  Since build cost is ordinarily based on displacement (when comparing like for like), the consequent build cost should be reduced by 1/3 and the resulting vessel should be much more faithful to the original Royalist.


There is of course more research to be done, however the above has been a good exercise in exploring the probable dimensions of the Royalist

Most recently, a painting of the Royalist surfaced which had been done during the time of the actual vessel being in Malaysia.  It is likely to be the most accurate rendering that we will find...  The painting shows a vessel having a less lively sheer line, a slightly different bow profile, and more rake to the bowsprit....    

If this project moves forward, I will post more information about the design that eventuates.  For more information about our work with large wooden vessels, please see the following links.  Please also feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

80' Schooner ROYALIST - Kasten Marine Design, Inc.
   Click for Larger Image

Our articles about building an Indonesian Pinisi or KLM:
Pinisi History  |  Pinisi Building  |  The Ultimate Charter Pinisi
Sailing vs. KLM Types  |  A Cargo Pinisi as a Yacht...?

Pinisi and KLM designs that we have created or have planned:
30m Sailing Pinisi  |  36m Pinisi, Silolona  |  38m Sailing Pinisi  |  50m Sailing Pinisi
30m Charter KLM  |  33m Charter KLM  |  36m KLM, Dunia Baru  |  40m Charter KLM  |  50m Charter KLM

Descriptions of our adventures with these boats:
Silolona "Homecoming"  |  Indonesia Boatbuilding Images

Two Schooners and Two Arabian Dhows With Wooden Structure Suited to Indonesia
20m Sulawesi Privateer  |  36m Tern Schooner  |  22m Arabian Baghala  |  36m Arabian Baghala

Two junk rigged KLM types for construction in steel:
25m Lady Destiny  |  55m Lady Destiny