Chao Phraya: A Floating Food World

Dinner cruise boat owned by Supatra Co. Ltd., 18 by 5-meters, 66-guests main, 24-guests upper deck, Cummins 6BTA-M 5.9-liter 150 HP, 7 knots, built by a contractor in Ayutthya. (Photo: Haig-Brown/Cummins)

By Alan Haig-Brown

For many years, the Supatra River House on the Chao Phrya River,
has been a favorite with Thai and foreign dinners. Situated on
the Thonburi side of the river, the most favored approach to the
restaurant is by boat. To that end, the owner, Khun Supapan
maintains a fleet of beautifully restored Chao Phraya River water
taxis. These can pickup dinners from their riverside hotels or
any one of the Express Boat docks, including Tha Maharaj pier on
the Bangkok side across from the Supatra River House.

These elegant slim 12- by 2.5-meter wooden boats display the Thai
tradition of craftsmanship from the rounded settee in the stern
to the extreme rake of their bows. Open to the sides, they are
roofed from the pilot statin back to the stern. Entrance is near
to amidships with steps down to both forward and aft passenger
areas.

An oval, wood-encased compartment in the aft passenger area
contains the single 150-HP Cummins 6BTA-M diesel engine linked to
a ZF gear. This gives the boat an ample 12-knot speed for trips
up and down or across the spectacular section of the legendary
Chao Phrya River that flows through the palaces and temples of
modern day Bangkok.

Not satisfied with having one of the finest restaurants on the
riverside, Khun Supapan recently commissioned a very tidy dinner
cruise vessel. Smaller than the huge dinner boats that feed
hundreds of tour-bus groups in a single setting, the Supanniga
Cruise seats 66 guest on the main deck and 24 on an upper deck. A
compact and efficient galley in the stern of the lower deck turns
out meals comparable to those classical Thai creations of the
Supatra House.

For reliable power in moving the 18- by 5-meter steel-hulled
vessel in the river currents, another single 150-HP Cummins
6BTA-M is mounted in an engine room accessed by stairs from the
galley. Again, the engine is coupled to a ZF gear that gives the
boat a comfortable seven-knot cruising speed. Two
silencing-shrouded generators, a 20 and a 10 kW, are also mounted
in the vessel’s hull.

Another vessel to cater to luxurious travel from hotels to the
city’s transportation infrastructure, or to any of the riverside
restaurants, is the new Supapan #4. This 16- by 3.5-meter carvel
planked beauty demonstrates that a plumb bow and beamier hull can
also display elegance and tasteful harmony on the water. Teak has
become a rare commodity in Thailand and is used here for the
bright finished decks and sheer plank. The rest of the
cream-coloured hull is planked with takien, (Hopea Odorata) a
wood noted for similar longevity to teak. Framing for the boat is
teng (Shorea Obtusa) wood.

It is always interesting to note the versatility of Cummins power
as, in this case, with three distinctly different vessels all
utilizing a single Cummins 6BTA-M for power.

Feb 23, 2017

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