LR classes restoration of ‘beautiful butterfly’ Malahne

A classic yacht built in the 1930s has been transformed back to her original design after a long, complicated and fruitful partnership between LR and Pendennis Shipyard

Malahne

One of the largest and most significant projects Pendennis Shipyard and LR have been involved with is the two-and-a-half year rebuild of the 1937-built motor yacht Malahne

The classic yacht, which was originally classed by LR, was to use the candid words of Richard Cooper, LR’s Project Manager for the Malahne rebuild “at risk of an ignominious end when found languishing in a dilapidated condition following a series of poorly-executed alterations”. 

During a long and chequered early history – including active service during the Second World War – the 50-metre-long Malahne had several changes of owner and the ignominy of having its class suspended for two years. In 1960 she was bought by a company owned by the flamboyant Hollywood film producer Sam Spiegel. And, in what was referred to as a "never-ending Spiegel production", she had frequent changes of captain and attracted famous film-stars and royalty such as Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly. 

But, during this eventful spell, the maintenance of the vessel was neglected and in 1978 her class had to be suspended once again. When, in 1983, Spiegel sold the yacht to a Saudi Arabian sheikh, various modifications were made to try to superimpose a more modern profile and superstructure on to the vessel including changing her name to Adel XII. 

After a further refit in 1999 the vessel was sold at least twice before she was bought through Edmiston Yacht Management by her current owner who had the passion and enthusiasm to restore her to her original design. "It was a challenge that many organisations would be reluctant to attempt," said Cooper. 

A project team to restore the vessel at Pendennis’s Falmouth shipyard was led by Edmiston and the classic yacht experts G. L. Watson with naval architecture partner BMT Nigel Gee and approval and classification by LR. In the words of the interior designer Guy Oliver: "Our brief was to make Malahne look as if she had been in continuous ownership since she was built."

Cooper explained: "The major challenge was to survey the original structure and specify the criteria for retaining it, to make sure such original techniques as riveting and lapped joints were applied and to use the vessel’s original equipment.

"We also needed to make sure the vessel was compliant with the latest regulations and to install additional equipment to satisfy the latest operational requirements such as air conditioning and sewage treatment and to address structural issues relating to the fabrication in steel, aluminium and wood. Finally, we needed to make sure the vessel met the latest requirements for the UK flag and to satisfy the Large Yacht Code (LY2) and other relevant conventions."

So after keeping everything faithful to the original from lighting, anchors, the bridge telecom and the Malahne’s hand-painted surfaces to its period styling, the vessel was relaunched in March this year. As one of the project team remarked as the yacht emerged from the Pendennis build shed: "It is like seeing a beautiful butterfly emerge into the sunlight!"

Mike Carr, Managing Director of Pendennis Yachts, said: "Over the past two-and-a-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."