This Majestic Sailing Yacht With Exceptional Performance Is Over a Century Old

When discussing exciting entries in the luxury yachting market, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge superyacht with powerful engines and resort-like amenities. However, sailing connoisseurs see things differently. For them, a vessel like Merrymaid would be the most notable addition to the market. Built way back, at the beginning of the 20th century, this British sailing yacht is a living piece of history, yet perfectly fit for modern cruising.
This exquisite British masterpiece was built as a powerful racing yacht in 1904 18 photos
Photo: Merrymaid
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In the bygone era of gentlemen and gentlemen's yachts, the epitome of sailing luxury wasn't about things like helipads, swimming pools, bars, and water toys. At the start of the 1900s, the most acclaimed pleasure craft were medium-sized sailing ships that could prove their prowess in performance racing, boasting exquisite craftsmanship based on the finest woods.

Sadly, many of these masterpieces have met tragic ends, being either destroyed or left somewhere to rot. The ones that survived and were well-cared for by their new owners turned out to be just as impressive in modern times. No matter the shiny temptations onboard new builds, there's nothing like cutting through the waves onboard a wooden boat that was a racing champion decades before superyachts even existed.

Merrymaid is unique today not just for its outstanding history but also because it still boasts a lot of its original interiors. At the same time, it can handle trips that fit into the luxury cruising category. Luckily, although it changed hands numerous times, Merrymaid benefitted from careful refits throughout the decades and continued to operate successfully. Even after nearly 120 years, this stunning yacht is still as beautiful and powerful as ever.

Merrymaid Classic Yacht
Photo: The Metre Yard
On April 30, 1904, Camper & Nicholson launched the 34-meter (111.5 feet) Merrymaid, commissioned by Thomas A. Hardcastle. It was designed by Charles E. Nicholson and built in Britain. Just one year later, Merrymaid made a great impression during its first racing season and ended up winning the prestigious King's Cup.

A new chapter began after 1911 when the sailing wooden yacht got a Maudslay six-cylinder engine with 60 HP. Merrymaid was now officially a ketch, capable of cruising at seven knots (8 mph/13 kph). When the First World War broke out, it ended up like many other boats at the time, hibernating on a fjord in Norway.

By the 1920s, the British yacht was back to its racing glory, mainly thanks to its new owner. Elizabeth Workman worked with the original designer to get the boat's performance to modern standards, including the installation of a so-called Bermudian main sail, which was the first for a British yacht at the time.
Merrymaid was once again a racing success, competing against heavy hitters like Britannia and Lulworth.

The Second World War disrupted the sailing yacht's life again. It changed ownership multiple times and was hardly as active as it had been during its golden years. For almost fifty years, the fast yacht was only used as a houseboat. At the break of the 21st century, the Merrymaid is finally ready for a new, exciting chapter when an enthusiastic owner buys it with restoration in mind. Due to his unexpected death, the classic yacht is forced to go under the hammer. Luckily, that was a great turning point.

Merrymaid Classic Yacht
Photo: Merrymaid
Following the auction in 2005, Merrymaid was completely rebuilt at the prestigious Southampton Yacht Services yard. They were able to save most of the original hull, with carvel-planked teak on oak frames, and of the original interior, alongside high-quality reproduction work. The rigging and all onboard systems were upgraded.

After such extensive work, the classic masterpiece proudly showed off its new face during a challenging three-year voyage. It became the first gaff cutter (a boat with a single mast and four-corner sails) to navigate the North West passage successfully.

In 2010, Merrymaid got its looks (and systems) refreshed one more time, and today, more than a decade later, it's back on the market, looking for a new owner. Its modern Contender Dracon sails span more than 950 square meters (10,225 square feet), and the 265 HP Perkins Sabre engine helps it reach a maximum of 12 knots (13.8 mph/22.2 kph).

The beautiful interior reveals sophisticated Chesterfield-style sofas and a modern fireplace in the main salon, flooded with natural light thanks to a generous skylight. The bespoke coffee table, perfectly matching the elegant wood paneling throughout, also doubles as a dining table. With a master stateroom aft, and two additional cabins port and starboard, the Merrymaid is ready to accommodate up to six guests plus a six-member crew.

Merrymaid Classic Yacht
Photo: Merrymaid
This classic sailing yacht is currently located in Palma, asking for €4.95 million ($5.3 million). The bad news is that it's unavailable for US folks. Still, a yachting enthusiast based in Europe and with millions to spare could enjoy the timeless beauty and world-cruising capabilities of the Merrymaid for decades to come.

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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