59m classic motor yacht Marala, one of relatively few surviving yachts from her era, has a fascinating story of 1930’s elegance, German U-boats, and Hollywood glamour. Built by Camper and Nicholsons in 1931, she has had unusually few owners for her age, meaning her character, basic layout and original engines have all been preserved. However, many modifications have been made to her superstructure and interior throughout her life, most notably when she was converted for naval service during World War II. Beloved by several notable Owners, guardian of wartime naval crew and host to distinguished guests such as Salvador Dali, Frank Sinatra, and international royalty, she is now a historical icon infused with character from each era of her life.
When she came onto the market in 2016, it was for the first time in over 50 years, and her new Owner sought to have her meticulously restored. Her Captain remarked “Marala’s new Owner recognised the rare opportunity to own a Camper & Nicholsons classic motor yacht but understood that her essential structural requirements would impact her interior, meaning it would be wise to address engineering updates at the same time. With a determination to remain sympathetic to her heritage and original design, the decision was made to bring the yacht to Pendennis to complete a restoration and preserve her spirit for many years to come.”
A comprehensive programme of works have since upgraded the yacht’s domestic and electrical systems - harnessing modern engineering methods. The steelwork of the hull has been renewed, and amendments to her profile have undone some of the modifications made over the decades. As much of her original timber as possible has been retained, including the beautifully aged floorboards in the dining area and saloon. Her rebuilt original engines have been kept, and the power train has since been refurbished to upgrade the propulsion down through into the water.
Marala represents one of many historic restoration projects that have taken place at Pendennis. She arrived at Pendennis in mid-August 2019 on a yacht transport ship direct from Malta, having started her project there. By this stage her Captain and his team had already stripped out much of the yacht’s interior and started some engineering works.
On arrival at Pendennis the yacht was taken straight into the inner dry dock, her home for the next two and a half years, for de-storing, investigation work on her steel hull and superstructure and to start her Lloyd’s special survey.
In conjunction with this activity, it was also vital for the Pendennis team to finalise the technical specification for the new systems and calculate the net space on board to sign off the yacht’s new interior with Muza Lab.
The investigation work into her steel hull and superstructure identified a significant number of areas that needed urgent attention. A comprehensive programme of fabrication, blasting and repainting commenced that resulted in the renewal of over 100 tonnes of steel, predominantly on her hull. The decision was taken to leave the hull un-faired, providing an authentic look synonymous with her heritage.
Other key external modifications included the removal of the exterior hard topped shelter and tender storage on the Owner’s aft deck to make way for an external entertainments area complete with a cinema space and Jacuzzi. In addition, it was decided that the yacht’s lines should be restored to their 1930s roots, which required the removal of the bulwarks and side deck structures that had been added in the 1950s and 60s.
A comprehensive programme of replacing all services on board was carried out, including the HVAC, air conditioning, piping and ducting, cabling power and distribution, lighting and hardware. Her auxiliary generators were fully rebuilt, whilst her emergency generator was replaced with an emergency battery system to remove the need for an emergency generator to be located on the upper decks. Marala also underwent a full rebuild of the hydraulic and original manual steering systems on board, which included a full restoration of the manual emergency steering (in place since build) on the aft main deck.
London based design house Muza Lab were commissioned to bring a new look to the décor that both respects and celebrates the 1930s spirit of the vessel. Beginning with the original design spec and blueprints from the National Maritime Museum archives, they extensively researched Marala’s history, developing an understanding of her heritage and character which they would reference throughout the design process. The designs for the guest cabins are a journey through different periods of Marala’s life, with 1930’s style waxed linen panels, nods to her time in military service, and savoy blue accents symbolising the Palace of Savoy in homage to a former Owner. The Owner’s area rich with art deco glamour, inspired by the 1930’s ocean liner, the SS Normandie.
Muza Lab explained “In her 89 years of illustrious history, several performances have graced the stage that is this grand dame, each with its curious cast of characters. It is this rich heritage, specifically the times full of optimism, of heady glamour, that we have sought to honour in our new design direction for Marala. Far from an interior restoration project, this has been about reinvigorating her 1930s spirit, preserving her aura for years to come.” And it is important to note that this restoration project was not to conceal but to enhance Marala’s features; as Muza Lab suggested “In Marala, we already had a diamond – it has been a case of repolishing it to reveal its brilliance.”
Marala departed Pendennis for our Mediterranean facility in Vilanova in the Autumn of 2022.