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International Edition

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Welcome to Sandeman’s Yachting Chronicles

A set of details, a description and some accompanying pictures may describe a yacht, her dimensions and her appearance, but somehow these always fail to capture the whole picture – the magic is missing.

The yachts on our brokerage lists are all striking to the eye, and the images of them are easy to appreciate: the schooners and flush deck cutters may woo our imagination – a world of refinement surviving in a place that can be rugged, even brutal – or a wholesome 1950s cruising boat swinging on her mooring, varnish and paint not perfect, but the patina evidence of her sailing adventures – an honesty, and a simpler beauty.

Within this weblog we would like to use a broader brush to create a fuller picture of how these boats came to be and possibly to explain better why they touch us in the way they do.

We would like to cast a little more light on and around these boats, their histories, their designers, their owners, families and crews – indeed, to tell their whole stories.

Thereby we hope to inform and inspire you.

Thank you for visiting our site and we hope that you find our articles interesting and informative.

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BERTHON & SANDEMAN YACHTS – Our business is all about people… / Yacht Sales

July 7th, 2017

Berthon work closely with Barney Sandeman at the Sandeman Yacht Company , whom we regard as extended family.

Barney specialises in the sales of classic yachts and like us understands the importance of finding the right yacht for the right client. As yachtsmen’s requirements change through their yachting career, by working with Barney we are able to help whether she’s a classic, explorer yachts, ARC veteran or fast motor yacht.

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Second hand boats: buying a classic yacht

Nigel Sharp

  • Nigel Sharp
  • January 10, 2022

Nigel Sharp on everything you need to consider when it comes to buying a classic second hand boat built from wood

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Over the last three decades there has been a spectacular classic boat revival, resulting in – and further encouraged by – numerous classic boat regattas and rallies all over the world. Countless dayboats and yachts have been beautifully restored, which inevitably means there are now fewer ‘project boats’ on the market. Nonetheless, second-hand boats built from wood in a wide variety of conditions are still available. So if you’re tempted to buy a fixer-upper, or an already restored beauty, what should you bear in mind?

When contemplating buying a classic wooden yacht the initial considerations are no different to buying any other type of boat: be realistic and honest with yourself about how (and how often) you’ll use it, and with how many crew (experienced or otherwise).

Don’t buy a boat that’s too big or too small, thoroughly research the options for mooring and laying up wherever you hope to keep it and, perhaps most importantly in the case of a classic yacht, make sure you have access to skilled tradespeople to help you look after it.

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The Voiles de Saint-Tropez is a popular event for owners and crews of classic yachts. Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

The condition of second-hand wooden boats can vary massively, from those described as ‘fully restored’ to ‘in need of restoration’ as the extremes. Richard Gregson of brokers Wooden Ships comments that: “Most people should buy the best boat they can afford in the first place,” adding that they are “much better off buying a boat into which someone else has put all the money. Although she might look quite expensive, it will work out cheaper.”

But for some people – who have the relevant combination of time, money, aptitude and skills – it is the challenge of a project that draws them to a classic or wooden design.

Fully restored second hand boat?

Buyers should always be cautious of a yacht described as ‘fully restored’. “So many times I have seen boats advertised as such,” said Duncan Walker, formerly of Fairlie Restorations and now building the Fairlie range of modern classic yachts, “but in reality it can often mean the boat has been cosmetically refitted, perhaps with a new deck but otherwise just new electronics, furnishings and a coat of varnish. Nobody looked at the structure because they were afraid of it.”

This emphasises the vital importance of a survey. “We try very hard to provide buyers with a boat’s refit history,” said Barney Sandeman of brokers Sandeman Yacht Company, “but it is up to them to get to the bottom of the actual condition and what might need doing. We can recommend some very good surveyors with particular expertise in wood, but it’s the buyers’ call who to use.”

One of the surveyors on Sandeman’s list is Will Stirling, who also runs his own boatyard in Plymouth. “People often ask for a ‘cheap walkthrough’,” he told me. “But I always say that there’s only one grade of survey, which is a full condition survey. It wouldn’t benefit either of us not to do it thoroughly.”

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The cosy and beautifully crafted interior of the fully restored Bermudan cutter Farida.

A surveyor will essentially be looking out for structural issues, areas of decay and the condition of systems. Generally, structural defects are more likely to be found where repairs have been made rather than in the original build.

One common example of this, Stirling finds, is with the spacing of butt joints in hull planking. Most builders of wooden boats would have followed Lloyds rules with regard to this, but if repairs have been carried out good boatbuilding practices may well have been ignored.

Decay is most likely to result from poor ventilation and fresh water ingress. Typical areas where rainwater might get in include chainplates, bulwark stanchions, mast gates and deck seams, from which any amount of hull and deck damage might result.

Article continues below…

barney sandeman yachts

Second hand boats: is a 10-year-old yacht the best age?

With new build waiting lists growing at an unprecedented rate, buyers are turning to the second hand boat market to…

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Poorly sealed shower compartments are another area that often leads to problems. In the case of a boat with a laid deck over a plywood subdeck, water penetration through the seams can easily lead to rot in the plywood which might remain unnoticed for a significant length of time.

Problems can also arise where metal and wood are in contact with each other. The extent of this will vary according to timber species and metal type, but a particularly common issue is caused when the galvanising on a steel or iron bolt has slowly worn away, resulting in rust reacting badly with the tannic acid in oak frames.

These issues can be exaggerated when larger pieces of metal, such as frames in the case of composite construction, come into contact with timber.

The epoxy fix?

The use of epoxy on a wooden second hand boat can be contentious. “There is a place for epoxy and it’s often used in a way that is helpful to owners and boatbuilders,” said Sandeman, “but it can be the kiss of death if all you are doing is encapsulating a rotten old boat.”

Stirling believes problems often stem from the fact that modern owners expect an immaculate paint finish, which is usually achieved with epoxies and two pack paints. “But if you mix an organic material like timber with an inorganic material like epoxy, it’s going to cause you grief,” he said. “And it makes surveying really difficult because you cannot find out what’s going on underneath it.”

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Informal Saturday Hamble Classics races take place on Southampton Water. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Gregson agrees that “it’s generally a big alarm bell” when a boat has been sheathed in epoxy, but he does recall a rotten boat whose hull and deck were completely encased in epoxy 30 years ago when the only alternative was to break her up.

“We have sold her half a dozen times since,” he said. “Everyone knows she’s festering away inside under the epoxy but she’s had another 30 years of sailing which she wouldn’t have otherwise had.”

In more recent years, epoxy has often been used to great effect with new builds, whether the hull construction is strip planked, cold moulded or a combination of the two. Strip planked construction is often billed as being suitable for amateur builders, but Walker advises that “the process of building a strip planked boat should be carried out to the same level of skill as any other wooden boat.”

He is not alone in thinking that some hulls built this way are to a poor standard, in particular that they sometimes lack adequate framework on the inside or glass and/or veneers on the outside.

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The 1939 35ft Laurent Giles Bermudan cutter Farida has undergone a full five-year rebuild and is currently on the market for £250,000.

But despite what might seem like a lot of negatives, it should be borne in mind that on a wooden boat, in particular a traditionally built plank-on-frame boat, everything can be repaired. And there are plenty of skilled craftsmen available to do the work.

“That’s the wonderful thing about wooden boats,” said Stirling. “It’s just a question of how deep you want to put your hand in your pocket. The important thing is for a potential buyer to have an idea what needs doing and what it might cost.”

In very broad terms when considering a hull, planking is relatively easy to repair and replace, frames less so (especially steel frames, in the case of composite construction), while centreline components cause the most difficulty because of the need to support the boat without distorting it in the process.

But perhaps the most important thing in the boat buying process, thinks Walker, “is that buyers should use their heads and not their hearts. So many people fall in love with a boat and then buy something entirely unsuitable for their pocket or their experience.”

Attitudes towards wooden boat ownership have changed over the years. “When my father started selling them 50 years ago the perception was: ‘Oh dear, those poor people have got a horrible wooden boat as they obviously can’t afford GRP’,” recalls Gregson. “But now it is more like: ‘They must be doing all right for themselves, they have a lovely wooden boat!’”

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Ay Caramba: motor yacht back in the Med after a 15-month restoration

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Following an extensive and intensive 15-month restoration, the result of which is simply stunning, the motor yacht Caramba is back in the Mediterranean where she has previously spent at least half of her life.

Designed by Fred Parker and built by J Samuel White on the Isle of Wight – with a steel hull, aluminium superstructure and twin Gardner 6LXB diesel engines – Caramba was originally launched in May 1962. Parker was described in Yachting Monthly the following month as “in the top three of industrious designers in Great Britain today” having “produced a large number of designs for new yachts which are now building, ranging as they do from a 30-footer to motor yachts of considerable tonnage.” JS White was well known for producing naval vessels and lifeboats as well as private motor yachts and, going back a couple of centuries to when the company was still located in Kent, had also built the whaler in which Captain Bligh was cast adrift.

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Caramba was “robustly constructed” according to Motor Boat & Yachting , and “all fittings, including the top of the funnel, which project above the wheelhouse top, are readily portable as it is the owner’s intention to cruise through the French canals to the South of France.” That first owner was Frederick M Brown. Whether he did take her through the canals isn’t known, but she was certainly based in the Mediterranean from about 1970 until 2000 when she came back to the UK through those canals.

During those Mediterranean years, Caramba cruised extensively under various ownerships between the Greek Islands, Croatia, Turkey, Corsica, Sardinia and the French Riviera. John Glover remembers seeing her and occasionally working on her in Malta in 1972. At that time, she was owned by  Lt Cdr Paul Murray-Jones RN – who was trying to sell her, having bought Claudia Quinta , an 86ft motor yacht built by de Vries in 1954 – and her captain was Paul Ellis, a former sailing instructor. John had a full-time job as the engineer on a 20-metre ketch but went aboard Caramba to help out on “several sea trials” with prospective buyers, one of whom he particularly remembers. “He was a property developer, a self-made millionaire from near Brighton,” John told me. “He didn’t buy the boat  but he entertained us all at the five-star Phoenicia Hotel that weekend.”

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Eventually, Caramba was sold to PS Dixon who kept her in Antibes and then Marbella, and then for a couple of years she was owned by the yacht dealer David Skellern who, it is thought,  stored her in Antibes without really using her. In 1979 she was purchased by Leighton Mitchell who had her for about twelve years, from which time classic yacht broker Barney Sandeman has some poignant memories of her. In the early ‘80s when Barney was a young teenager, his mother ran a guest house in Poole, and often accommodated the crew of racing boats taking part in local events. One of these was John White who – along with his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Jo –  was subsequently employed by Leighton Mitchell to run Caramba . “At the time she was based at Nisssaki Beach in Corfu,” recalls Barney, “and we were lucky enough to be invited on board for holidays a couple of times.  It had a massive effect on me because it was the first classic boat that I had real contact with. And I was also then exposed to other classic boats such as the Fife ketch Sumurun which made a big impression on me seeing her sailing towards us out of the blue. But it was Caramba which really did it for me. She had a presence and a personality.”

Caramba then had a succession of French owners – Monsieur Bolloret, Monsieur Signeol and Jap de Bruin – before Philip Hardstaff bought her in 2000 after seeing a photo of her and thinking she was “the epitome of elegance”. It was Philip who brought her back to the UK through the French canals but that voyage didn’t go at all according to plan. He expected it to take about three weeks but it took a month just to get to Paris – “partly because the boat was in such a state and missing lots of the gear she was supposed to have, and partly because of some unreliable crew members,” he told me – and from there he got someone else to bring her the rest of the way.

During Philip’s ownership, he took Caramba to three different yards for refits. First, she went to Voyager Yachts in Millbrook where various rust problems were dealt with, including replacement of the bulwarks with stainless steel, and the forward cabin was rebuilt to accommodate a heads, a large galley and a family breakfast area; next she went to Pendennis Shipyard where a new teak deck was laid; and then Cockwells addressed some leak issues, straightened and strengthened the aluminium sides of the superstructure, and grit-blasted the whole boat back to bare metal and then faired and painted everything to a standard that was, according to Phil, “second to none”.

From her base at Port Pendennis Marina, Falmouth, Phil cruised Caramba along the UK’s south coast, to the Channel Islands and to the Isles of Scilly, but he often just took her out for local day trips, sometimes singlehanded. In 2008 when he felt as if she wasn’t getting much use, he put her on the market but “after a number of disappointments I backed out of an unsatisfactory sale with relief” and decided to keep her. But in 2020 he asked Barney Sandeman to sell her for him, and that was when she was purchased by her current owners.

barney sandeman yachts

Before doing so, they contacted Will Stirling of Stirling & Son and asked him to have a look at Caramba while she was still lying afloat in Falmouth, and provide estimates for some refit work. After he did so, she was lifted out of the water at Pendennis Shipyard and surveyed by Plymouth company NDT Services. The survey report essentially said that the boat looked fine but that there were a number of doubler plates in the hull which might be hiding significant issues. Nonetheless the purchase went ahead, and Phil then took Caramba to Stirling & Son in Plymouth where she was brought ashore on the world’s oldest covered slipway. Not long afterwards a conversation took place between Will and the owners which would define the philosophy of all of the work that would be done. “It was like standing at a crossroads,” said Will. “We said that we could patch the boat together, install a nice interior and so on, but it would still be a 60-year-old hull with a finite life; or we could really get into it and do it thoroughly. Without hesitation, they said ‘do it thoroughly, make her as good as new’ and we went for it.” Work started in earnest in May 2021.

In the hull a substantial amount of steelwork was renewed including almost all of the underwater framework and plating, all of the centreline and about 30% of the topsides plating. The steel deck was totally renewed as were about 20% of the deck beams. About 20% of the aluminium superstructure was also renewed and the whole superstructure raised by 150mm to increase internal headroom; and, whereas it was previously rivetted to a steel upstand around the deck, the two dissimilar metals are now connected by a Tribond transition joint which is significantly less likely to lead to corrosion. All the welding work was carried out by a team from European Active Project Ltd, overseen by the surveyor Richard Linford of Blue Peninsula Marine Surveys; and the fairing and painting was by Mark Palmer and his team at Reflexion Yacht Coatings.

barney sandeman yachts

The Gardner engines had never been out of the boat and it had previously been necessary to cut an access hatch in the hull plating to remove and replace a generator. But now soft patches were cut in the main deck (in the saloon sole) and the top of the superstructure above to allow the engines to be removed. They were then sent to Mike Harrison at Gardner Marine Diesels to be thoroughly overhauled and zero-houred. In fact absolutely everything was removed from the engine room and either refurbished or replaced. Amongst the new equipment is a Kohler generator supplied by Atlantis Marine Power in Plymouth, a Tecnicomar watermaker and a pair of Seakeeper gyro stabilisers. Many other items were refurbished by Deep Blue Engineering in Millbrook. All of the engine room piping is now either stainless-steel or galvanised steel with welded elbows and flanges. “It is all very robust and carried out to shipbuilding standard rather than yacht building, just as it was when she was built,” said Will.

The straight laid teak deck did, of course, have to be removed to allow fabrication of the new steel deck, but by careful use of a Fein saw, it was possible to save and reuse about 60% of it. A new subdeck comprising two layers of 20mm Robbins Super Elite plywood was fitted onto the steel, and then the salvaged teak – along with the balance in new teak which Will somehow, but with some difficulty, managed to acquire – was laid in a semi-swept style and with margins around the superstructure and hatches, and with squared (rather than routered) snapes. TDS caulking was used in the seams.

About 60% of the teak bulwark capping rail and the handrail above it have been renewed. Whereas previously the capping rail had butt joints, these have now been scarphed; and the end grain in way of the four gates in the hand rail, previously capped with simple flat plates, now have proper chromed bronze caps which were cast by Bridport Foundry who used an old one as a pattern. Similarly one of the two existing mooring bollards was used to cast six more so there are now four forward and four aft.

barney sandeman yachts

All of the hatches have been overhauled or replaced. For instance, the aft deck skylight now consists of the original base and new leaves; and a square hatch giving access to the lazarette has now been replaced by a round one. The aft deck table and various deck boxes were all made from solid teak.

All the superstructure windows have been replaced and this involved “quite an epic tale,” which perhaps reflects the attention to detail which was applied to the whole project. First, having studied photographs of boats of the same period, Will produced a drawing of an appropriate cross section for the frames; Filto Profiles in Spain was then contracted to extrude the frames using “the right kind of brass”, CW508L; the extrusions were then sent to Birmingham where Bendtech bent the corner pieces; back in Plymouth, Stirling & Son welded the bent pieces to the straight pieces to form each uniquely-shaped complete frame, and then polished out the welds; the frames were then chromed by local company SMB Plating; and finally they were glazed with 12mm toughened glass.

The original manual davits – which are “solid and enormously heavy” – have now been electrified with the electric motors fitted discreetly below deck. This conversion work was carried out by Deep Blue Engineering, including “gun-boring” the hole for the lifting cable through a 1.5 metre length of each davit.

The aft saloon bulkhead was renewed in teak-clad plywood, and with the previous central door moved across to the starboard side to allow a better deck seating area. All of the interior joinery was removed to allow access for the hull and deck repairs, and all of it was then renewed. The layout aft is very similar to the original, except the port side passageway is now 50mm nearer the centreline, and the heads compartment which was an ensuite for the aft cabin is now a day head with a door into the passageway. The open-plan forward end has now been altered to include a smaller galley and crew quarters. All of the new joinery is in cherry which has been stained with van Dyke crystals of crushed walnut, sealed with varnish and then two coats of a hard wax oil. This gives a nice satin finish which is relatively easy to repair when damaged. All of the upholstery was made by the Canvas Shop.

barney sandeman yachts

After long working days (and nights) and massive efforts from the team at Stirling & Son and their various subcontractors, Caramba set off from Plymouth in late August 2022 under the command of Nikos Vagher the captain and Theodore Tsavdaris Vallianos the mate, bound for Greece where the owners were then able to enjoy some late summer cruising on her. When such an extraordinary amount of work is carried out on a custom-built and custom-restored boat in such a short time (and some of it in a particularly short time towards the end) it is inevitable that there will then be some teething problems. But such was the thoroughness and attention to detail of the work carried out on Caramba , the snags were few and minor. “Boats like this are never quite ready, not even after several seasons,” said Barney. “But the owners are going to be refining Caramba and tweaking her, because they are of that mindset.” Will agrees that “she should just get nicer and nicer over time. Fresh out of the yard she is really fresh and beautiful but as she gets a bit of use she will feel lived in, warm and alive.”

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Classic Sangermani Sailing Yacht Gitana IV Sold

The classic 27.58 metre sailing yacht Gitana IV , listed for sale by Mike Horsley at Edmiston & Company , has been sold with the buyer introduced by Barney Sandeman of the Sandeman Yacht Company.

Built of mahogany planking on Iroko frames by Italian yard Sangermani to an in-house design, Gitana IV was delivered in 1962 as a classic yawl. She is famed for being commissioned by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, and for winning several regattas including the Fastnet race, where she set a record that remained unbroken for 19 years.

Despite her racing pedigree she remains a comfortable yacht accommodating six guests in three cabins consisting of a master suite and two VIP cabins, all with twin beds and en suite shower facilities.

In the main deck saloon, the dining table comfortably seats six guests on three sides in a half-circle of cloth-covered couches and offers an ice maker, storage, bookshelves and an entertainment centre.

The main mast was replaced in 2010, at which time both booms and the mizzen mast were completely overhauled and repainted. In addition, all the rod rigging, with associated rigging screws, were replaced. Her top speed is 10.5 knots and she boasts a maximum cruising range of 600 nautical miles at 9.5 knots with power coming from a 340hp Lugger 6125A diesel engine.

Gitana IV was asking €995,000.

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