Our Thunderbird – The Ute was a hoot!

The Thompson – A Classic Wooden Lake Boat

In the mid 1960’s I convinced Clyde to buy a bigger boat. I remember driving around with him looking at used Thompsons, but I think he knew they were lake boats that wouldn’t hold up to much on Buzzards Bay.

The other problem with the Thompson was that they were wooden hulls and I think Clyde knew fiberglass was the next new thing. Grady’s and Whalers were too expensive. I remember looking at MFG’s and Chrysler’s of all things (they also made outboards for a while).
Eventually we ended up at Russo Marine in Weymouth buying a 15’4″ Thunderbird Ute from Larry Russo Senior.

Me in front of the seawall in the under powered Thunderbird (40 HP). Unbelievably, that’s my grandmother Nana sitting in the front seat. She couldn’t handle the ladder at the pier, but managed to climb aboard over the seawall!

The problem with the Thunderbird was that Clyde didn’t want to spend the money for the Johnson 55 HP that it actually needed, so he put a 40 HP Evinrude on it instead. It was a dog. I remember going out for a ride with Bud Fischer and having him hang over the side and declare “Clyde, you know this isn’t even planing!”

Fortunately, I didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of an under powered boat for too long. In 1967 or so, he went hog wild and bought a Johnson 85 HP. And with that, The Thunderbird was officially over powered!

It was kind of a trimaran with a big center hull and two much smaller side hulls. This provided all the launch a 13 year old needed to take air flying from wave to wave. It wasn’t fun until the prop came out of the water and made the engine howl at redline!

The Ute was a hoot!

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