Yacht at sea

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For sale: Five superyacht projects in need of rescue

30 June 2023 • Written by Emma Bamford and Dea Jusufi

As a publication that celebrates vessels old and new, there are few sorrier sights than a forgotten hull languishing ashore. But with some love and attention – and a healthy stay in a refit yard – there is still hope for these once glorious vessels. We handpick five options for an ambitious owner in search of their next restoration project...

City

Builder: Feadship
Length: 26.4m
Year: 1964

Rebuilding a Feadship has become a badge of honour for owners brave enough to take on such a task. Launched in 1964 as Exact, this classic canoe stern has had as many lives as a cat, with nine names in total. She was built for the former commodore of the New York Yacht Club, J Burr Bartram, for observing the 1964 America’s Cup trials and offered great views of the racing for NYYC selection committee members from anywhere on the main deck. Bartram skippered her himself. "I really enjoy handling her," he told Yachting Magazine in 1965. "She steers and manoeuvres so well that it is a positive pleasure, and it adds a great deal to the fun of a day at sea for me."

Brokerage firm Denison Yachting is upfront about the commitment needed, estimating it will take six to eight months or 7,500 man-hours to rebuild her pitted steel hull alone at a cost of €500,000, while the price of a total refit is put at least €8 million, with €120,000 needed to transport her to the Netherlands. But the end result could be worth it: ownership of a timeless Feadship Heritage Fleet classic with a storied history.

Lying in Freeport, City is for sale with Denison Yachting asking $200,000. 

Ambriabella

Builder: Felszegi
Length: 52m
Year: 1962

Like Cinderella, Ambriabella has been waiting for some time for her prince to come. A former passenger ship, she was launched by Felszegi Shipyards near Trieste, Italy, in 1962 and operated as a Vaporetti water bus connecting Trieste, Grado, and Venice. Later in life, she transported passengers to Croatia and around the Greek islands. 

After years of servitude, she washed up in Piraeus, near Athens, where she was tracked down after a nine-year search by a group of entrepreneurs using satellite imagery and saved in the nick of time from the wrecking ball by being bought from her then-owner, a professional magician. She is for sale with plans for converting her, like her sistership Dionea, who was restored and is now chartered successfully in the Western Med. The conversion plans, drawn up by maritime consultancy firm Wissman and Associates, would see Ambriabella, after rebuild and refit at Quaiat Yard in Trieste, where she is now lying, accommodate 12 guests with a full-beam owner’s suite, a full-beam VIP and four other cabins, two lounges and formal dining. Costs have not been disclosed, but she could become a real beauty for the right owner.

Ambriabella is for sale with Quaiat with full pricing available upon request. 

Valeria

Builder: Feadship
Length: 44.2m
Year: 1975

This is an easier task: the 1975-built Feadship Valeria has already been restored to as-new condition and completely redesigned and refitted to suit modern tastes. When built, Valeria, then Lac II, offered many firsts – she was the first Feadship with an interior designed by Cannes-based architect Pierre Tanter, marking the start of a long relationship between the yard and the designer. And she had a roll-out helicopter deck. She first went on sale in 1978 and was bought by the Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, who ran her as his presidential yacht for 25 years as Al-Farah. Following another sale and a complete strip-back at Ocean Quay in Southampton, UK, which included an extension to her hull to provide a swim platform, a new upper deck and mast design, and the addition of a spa pool, these days she sleeps 12 guests served by a crew of nine in an interior by Design Unlimited – although unfortunately, that retractable helideck is no more.

Lying in the Netherlands, Valeria is for sale with TWW Yachts asking €15,000,000.

Conidaw

Builder: J.A. Silver Ltd.
Length: 24.5m
Year: 1939

As an esteemed piece of war memorabilia, this wooden motor yacht makes for a worthy restoration project. Launched in 1939 at the Clydeside yard at Rosneath, Conidaw was requisitioned later that year by the Royal Navy as a "Depth sounding patrol boat". It was in the May of the following year that she would play an integral role in two of World War II's most famed campaigns: the Siege of Calais and the Dunkirk Evacuation, saving over 900 soldiers in the process. It was the Conidaw, in fact, that delivered Churchill's iconic message to Brigadier Nicholson: "Calais must be held at all costs". 

Her time under siege has left her with some scarring – Conidaw's port engine still has a cracked sump from the bombardment, crudely repaired to war economy standard. Now, she sits in the French port of La Ciotat, a decade of neglect reducing her to fading paintwork and peeling varnish. With a stabiliser fitted circa-1965 (one of the first to be fitted to a yacht of her size!), an anchor windlass made by Thomas Reid, and two Gardner engines, this hardy vessel is ready to give another 75 years of service after a thorough overhaul. Conidaw contains four guest cabins and separate crew accommodation, with repairs estimated at €3 million.

Conidaw is listed for sale with Sandeman with pricing available upon request.

Priceless

Credit: Edward Grimpe

Builder: Falcon Maritime
Length: 25.3m
Year: 1996

Priceless (ex. Falcon 1) was originally built as a proof of concept platform, showcasing a corrugated aluminium manufacturing process with a special adhesive that allowed the bulkheads to “float” on the hull’s skin, dampening vibration and noise. Falcon Marine built the hull and superstructure in the 1980s, but it was not finished until 1996 with a final build cost of $6,000,000. She is a project for the diehard DIY-er, in need of a complete interior refit and some exterior cosmetic updating. Once restored, however, she can accommodate four guests plus two crew members in more high-octane ocean adventures. Lying in Dania Beach, Florida, she was once capable of 40 knots thanks to two converted 16V92s and a pair of Rossi surface drives. 

Priceless is listed for sale with HMY Yacht Sales asking $469,000.

More about this yacht

Feadship   44.2 m •  1975
Feadship   26.35 m •  1964

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Feadship   44.2 m •  12 guests •  €9,000,000

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