The Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth, England boasts a long and successful 30-year career in bespoke superyacht construction and high-quality refits. Their most recent (and major) refit project involved a Herreshoff schooner that was over a century old. Mariette of 1915 had seen countless transatlantic trips and regattas and had been through a slew of owners (including the U.S. coastguard, even though 95% of boats in the U.S. were made in the U.S.): Captain Charlie Wroe, a long-time crew member of Mariette, stated his concern over the unknowns involved in the project.
“I had a fairly good idea of the condition of the metalwork underneath the deck but the condition of the deep areas of the hull was more of an unknown,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to accurately estimate the amount of work required to repair the deep areas of the bilge and the bad areas of hull hidden behind joinery.”
Pendennis overhauled nearly every aspect of her design, but the decks were an early focus due to their obvious state: the teak planks on the plywood subdeck were creating a “dragon’s teeth” effect as screws pierced the surface from below. The entire deck needed to be ripped out, not only because screws made before 1928 (when the National Screw Thread Commission established a standard) were handmade and therefore inconsistent in construction, but because its removal allowed Pendennis access to the steel deck structure underneath. Fortunately, the ship refitters stayed true to the original look and supplied teak of “better quality than before and much more uniform in grain,” and with planks and seams that were “perfectly proportioned.”
A ship is only as good as its engine, and the engineering spaces needed a complete work-over.
“Previous systems had been added piecemeal over the years,” says Wroe, “but we now had the opportunity to start with a clean slate.” Refitters removed everything from the engine room and surrounding areas and treated the 20-year-old diesel Caterpillar 3208s V8s to shot-blasting and a new paint job. Diesel engines are popular in marine environments due to their efficient internal combustion: if you need to power a nearly 138-foot ship through the elements, you want something that can handle anything you throw at it.
Mariette of 1915 had been completely taken apart and put back together in an effort to remove unnecessary items, create a more efficient and waterproof environment, and upgraded in just about every way possible. She is one ton lighter and a heck of a lot more modern, yet she still possesses the charm of a ship that has seen world wars and vacation cruises alike. After eight months in the Pendennis docks, she was put to the test on a quick trip to Norway — and is expecting more on the horizon.
“We cruised the Sognefjord and then the Lofoten islands,” said Wroe. “This month we are cruising the Orkney and Shetland islands and then moving south to the west coast of Scotland. In September we will get south as fast as possible to race Mariette and Kelpie of Falmouth in the Cannes and Saint-Tropez regattas.”