The vessel, which was operating as a harbour cruise ship under the name High Spirits, was saved by the president of McMillen Yachts, Earl McMillen III. McMillen was able to introduce a new party that was interested in saving the vessel and was integral in arranging the transfer of the boat from California to Rhode Island.
McMillen Yachts will now helm a full-scale restoration from the keel up with a view to meticulously maintain her classic charm. Originally launched in 1929, the boat was designed by John Trumpy and built by Mathis Yacht Building Company.
Earl McMillen III and the team were heavily involved in the transport of the vessel to the McMillen facilities in Portsmouth. “The yard had already cut large holes in the side of the hull and had removed the engines and machinery, in anticipation of cutting her up,” he explained.
“We had to repair the holes and replace the planking that had been removed so that we could re-float her. She remained at a local San Diego marina until a ship was available to bring her to the east coast.” Due to local laws, the vessel had to be towed on her own bottom to Mexico where she was then loaded onto a ship bound for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“Coincidently, she was offloaded in the river just offshore from where she was originally built in Camden, New Jersey 93 years ago, in 1929,” added McMillen.
The vessel was due to be scrapped just days before McMillen heard of her fate. “I received a call from a yacht broker on Tuesday asking whether I was aware that [the vessel] was scheduled to be cut up on Friday,” he said.
“I contacted the owners and asked for more time. The boat yard was only willing to give us one more week," he continued. "We were able to send a team out from Newport and bring a barge in to take the boat away by the following Saturday."
Maemere has a rich history behind her, with onboard relics including a Joe Selby painting and a cigar humidor that was once owned by one of the boat’s former crew. She also features silver julep cups which were gifted by the granddaughter of the original owner, DeWitt Page.
McMillen is no stranger to restorations of this size and scale, having completed the restoration of Maemere’s sistership, Freedom. The restoration took place between 2004 and 2004 and cost around seven million dollars.
Once the restoration is complete, Maemere will be operated as a private yacht.