The 50m Malahne, one of Camper & Nicholsons’ original 1937 motoryachts, served in World War II and hosted many prominent figures throughout her rich history. Following years of neglect, her potential was realised by an owner who described her as a “loose association of rust held together with air”. After undergoing an ambitious restoration project at Pendennis Shipyard, Malahne was restored to her former glory and relaunched in 2015. 


Having regularly chartered Fair Lady, a 1927 Camper & Nicholsons’ motoryacht, Malahne’s new owner had been looking for an equivalent that was for sale. Working closely with Edmiston as brokers and yacht managers, it soon became evident that there was no such boat on the market. There was, however, Malahne, sitting on the east coast of Spain and seemingly in complete disrepair.

It was Nicholas Edmiston who originally saw the yacht’s potential: in 2009 he had asked William Collier, managing director of G.L. Watson & Co, to inspect the yacht and make preliminary designs to establish the feasibility of a restoration project. In 2012, Collier and the Pendennis team visited Malahne to start turning the potential that they all recognised into a defined restoration project.

Arrival at Pendennis

While Malahne had a questionable 1980s design above deck, Collier saw that she had good spaces and volume below deck, and knew that the project could work based on this. “We were lucky to be working with an owner who was prepared to see the potential regardless of the changes that had been made in the 1980s, which was very hard because so many of the pre-war features had disappeared,” he explains.

Responsible for the exterior design and interior crew areas, G.L. Watson’s knowledge of the history of the vessel was invaluable in providing the necessary details to ensure that the yacht was restored as accurately as possible to the original Camper & Nicholsons’ design. Guy Oliver, owner and managing director of Oliver Laws, was chosen for the interior design of the guest areas. Having been responsible for the interiors of Claridge’s, where the owner had stayed many times, it was Oliver’s appreciation of sympathetic period designs that were appealing and led to the contract.

The brief to “make Malahne look as if she had been in continuous ownership since she was built” was the foundation of the project. For Pendennis, this meant using as much of the original vessel as possible. “The first phase was to take everything apart and ensure that every single piece of metal we could use was salvaged and then reinstated in the new construction,” explains joint managing director Henk Wiekens.

The biggest challenge for the project management team was ensuring Malahne complied with modern criteria so that she could be chartered through Edmiston. The goal was to end up with a boat that was built in 1937 but that complied with 2015 regulations. “The boat was in very poor condition; we wanted to return it to full Lloyd’s class, achieve LY2 compliance and integrate modern systems,” adds Collier.

“Achieving all of that on a boat with low headroom and confined spaces is always a challenge compounded by MCA requirements, which stipulate some departures from the original design.” As an example of this, Collier explains that the height of the bulwarks had to be altered. “That is one of the things I am most proud of: although we made these significant changes, no one notices a deviation from her classic character.”

Another challenge in terms of naval architecture for Pendennis was to ensure Malahne could operate smoothly without the problems that most yachts built in the 1930s have. “Because they were long and narrow, their stability was always an issue,” says Wiekens. “Nowadays there is a comfort level as well as a safety level. The safety level can be compromised when these boats arrive from a long journey and all their tanks are empty. Normally you could introduce water ballast tanks to rectify this, but that is an impossible solution on the size of these older boats.”

As a result, Pendennis had to work on a solution that would provide Malahne with an arrival stability that did not rely on outside fluids. “While some boats do this by putting a deeper keel full of lead and increasing the draught, our brief was to keep inside the original hull lines,” Wiekens continues. “We achieved this by introducing a fixed ballast element in the lower levels without going outside the hull. This was a very interesting element of the project for us.”

Being involved with many prominent restoration projects, including Adix, Fair Lady and Shamrock V, Pendennis has carved a niche for itself in this sector. Now having another to add to the portfolio, Malahne’s history with Camper & Nicholsons is particularly significant to the yard. “The British yachting scene was set down there,” explains Wiekens. “There were so many boats built in that era, but there are not many left. For us to be able to do a restoration project like Malahne is very special – it is unique, like every boat that comes out of the Pendennis yard.”

For Collier, what makes Malahne stand out is that the parameters of the project were very rigid, as all work was carried out in the context of the original Nicholson design. “There are many restoration projects out there but they have not been totally accurate restorations,” he concludes. “This was a fascinating opportunity to work with an owner who was really interested in getting it right. The result is a high quality original that is now in the condition she might have been in if she’d had one careful owner for 80 years.”

In-build images: Pendennis

Exterior images: Andrew Wright

Interior images: Jeff Brown

Find the full article in issue 172 of The Superyacht Report.

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