Saturday, March 14, 2015 was marked by the re-launch of the 50m (165’) classic motor yacht Malahne at Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth, following a meticulous 30-month restoration, during which the project’s details have been shrouded in secrecy. Originally penned by Charles E. Nicholson and constructed by Camper & Nicholsons in 1937, superyacht Malahne is one of a small number of pre-war motor yachts to have survived until the 21st Century. Having now gone through one of the most ambitious restorations of all time, her original elegance has been reinstated, whilst being modernised to be fully classed by Lloyd’s Register and compliant with the MCA Large Yacht Code (LY3).
While many people share a love for historic yachts, Nicholas Edmiston, the Chairman of Edmiston & Company, was uniquely placed to rescue and restore luxury yacht Malahne, having previously played vital roles in the rebirth of both Nahlin and Bluebird. He had followed the chequered history of the yacht for decades and in his own words, “I was fortunate to interest an Owner who understood and embraced this vision, and who entrusted Edmiston to pull together a team that could bring Malahne back to life.” Nick subsequently organized a project team and shipyard, who shared the passion and transformed this dream into a reality.
Malahne superyacht’s restoration has been carried out by Pendennis Shipyard, with classic yacht experts G. L. Watson & Co. providing the exterior design and the interior design for the crew accommodation. As William Collier, its Managing Director, comments, “The Malahne project is the most ambitious motor yacht restoration yet undertaken. The challenge of recreating many of the yacht’s features while achieving a faithful restoration of the hull shape has been very rewarding. Together we have brought an historically important yacht back to life. Malahne appears as she did in the 1930s, while having all of today’s conveniences.”
On-site project management was provided by G. L. Watson and Edmiston Yacht Management (EYM), who pooled their complementary design and technical expertise to work closely with Pendennis. Strong team work was required to restore the aesthetic and historical integrity of the yacht, while simultaneously installing the highest standards of modern comfort, technology and safety. As Malahne yacht emerged from the build shed, Jacqui Lyne, EYM Director, summed up the excitement of all members of the project team: “It is like seeing a beautiful butterfly emerge into the sunlight!”
The spectacular Art Deco influenced interior design of the Owner and Guest areas was created by Oliver Laws, whose devotion to period design was previously applied to the interiors of Claridges in London. As the designer, Guy Oliver, explained: “The Owner’s brief to “make Malahne look as if she had been in continuous ownership since she was built” was wonderful and daunting. The new Malahne had to function with contemporary requirements for air conditioning and technology, all of which had to be contained in an original envelope. I spent a long time establishing a language and grammar for the interior, with bespoke detailing, woods and materials appropriate to the period, (which were all hand worked and finished), as well as designing and sourcing original furniture in a lightly eclectic way to give an air of authenticity and continuity. The result is a vessel of charm and elegance that makes a distinctive statement for which I am sure she will become renowned.”
The stylistic sensibilities of the Owner and designers has resulted in a unique yacht, with the fine details throughout … lighting, anchors, the bridge telecom, hand-painted surfaces and intricately authentic styling .. that are fully sympathetic to her original era. Mike Carr, Managing Director of Pendennis, is extremely proud of the standard of workmanship on-board: “Over the past two and half years the team here has worked incredibly hard to bring Malahne back to life. Seeing the final transformation from her 1980s form back to her original design, her launch marks a proud moment for everyone involved. Our tradespeople from all areas have applied quality, care, pride and passion to every aspect of the project. There have been unprecedented opportunities to showcase their restoration skills, whilst sympathetically integrating modern systems. Malahne now commands a special place in the Pendennis fleet.”
On completion of trials, classic motor yacht Malahne will be one of the most detailed, distinctive and beautiful motor yachts to be launched in recent decades, suitably reflective of an incredibly glamorous era of yachting. After sailing from Falmouth, she will return to the Mediterranean where she will be enjoyed by her Owner. Yacht operations will be managed by Edmiston Yacht Management, and Malahne will be available for superyacht charter.
Malahne yacht was originally commissioned by W. L. Stephenson, the chairman of Woolworths in the UK. He already owned the J Class cutter Velsheda which was named after his daughters Velma, Sheila and Daphne. For Malahne he used the second halves of the threesome’s names. Stephenson cruised extensively on both sides of the Atlantic, but with the outbreak of war Malahne was commandeered by the Admiralty. As HMS Malahne, the yacht served on the Channel Patrol, and took part in the Dunkirk evacuation before seeing service for the Fleet Air Arm.
Post-War, luxury yacht Malahne had a series of European and American Owners before being acquired by movie producer Sam Spiegel in 1960. Spiegel, who produced On the Waterfront, The African Queen and Bridge over the River Kwai, initially used her as his floating production office off Aquaba during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia and in the 20 years that followed she became one of the most glamorous yachts in the Mediterranean. Spiegel’s cruises and parties were legendary and the guest book reads like a who’s who of Hollywood, with Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Peter Sellers, Jack Nicholson and many other famous names gracing Malahne. The 1970s cult classic, The Last of Sheila, co-written by Stephen Sondheim and featuring James Mason, James Coburn, Dyan Cannon and Raquel Welch, was also filmed aboard Malahne.
Specifications of superyacht Malahne
Build Date: 1937
Builder: Camper & Nicholsons
LOA after restoration: 165ft / 50.29m
Draft: 10ft 9” / 3.28m
Beam: 25ft / 7.89m
Gross Tonnage: 440 GRT
Construction: Steel hull /Aluminium superstructure
Guests: 9 in 5 cabins
Crew: 12 in 7 cabins
Restoration & Naval Architect: Pendennis Shipyard Ltd
Owner’s Project Management: Edmiston & G. L. Watson & Co
Exterior Design, Crew Accommodation: G. L. Watson & Co
Interior Designer Owner & Guest areas: Guy Oliver (Oliver Laws Ltd)