The Timeless Allure of Classic Yachts

Last Updated On August 29, 2023

Posted By Hisham

Yachts come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, but there is a distinct timelessness associated with classic yachts. Whether they are sailing yachts or motor yachts, classic vessels require additional time and effort to build and maintain. However, speaking to a classic yacht owner reveals why the extra work is deemed invaluable. In this article, we will explore what defines a classic yacht and delve into the world of classic sailing yachts and motor yachts.

Defining a Classic Yacht

Although there is no rigid definition of “classic yachts,” most enthusiasts agree that it refers to yachts built prior to 1975, typically constructed using wood or metal materials, and retaining their original build and design. While the definition may be somewhat fluid, one constant remains—Vintage yachts encompass some of the most exquisite and timeless vessels ever created, many of which hold significant historical records or represent milestones in the realm of yachting.

Classic Sailing Yachts

Following the aforementioned definition, a classic sailing yacht is one built before 1975 that maintains its original wooden or metal structure, as well as its classic sails and rigging. These yachts are meticulously maintained and feature the elegant lines and bespoke craftsmanship that epitomize bygone eras. While the hull, rigging, and exterior must retain their original build and materials, many classic sailing yachts have undergone interior upgrades that rival the luxury found on modern yachts today.

Classic Motor Yachts

Similar to sailing classic yachts, classic motor yachts boast handcrafted exteriors typically crafted from wood or steel, offering a glimpse into the timeless era of vintage motor yachts. These vessels are often limited in number, making them a unique choice for individuals seeking to own a piece of history and indulge in nostalgia. Classic motor yachts exude a sense of charm and elegance that is difficult to replicate, drawing admirers with their captivating designs and impeccable craftsmanship.

Real feast to your taste

Classic yachts are renowned for their ability to evoke strong emotions, captivating enthusiasts with their elegant lines and timeless appeal. Spanning from the early 1900s to the 1970s, these yachts are typically crafted from wood or aluminum, showcasing exquisite craftsmanship and classic design elements. As you explore the selection of classic yachts available for sale, you’ll be transported back to the golden age of yachting, where these vessels were the epitome of luxury and served as a prestigious retreat for politicians, movie stars, and royalty.

Preserving History

Owning a classic yacht allows individuals to relish in the rich heritage and unique character of these vessels. Many owners consider themselves custodians of history, embracing the responsibility of safeguarding a piece of maritime heritage. By maintaining and caring for these classic yachts, owners ensure that future generations can also appreciate their historical significance and enduring beauty.

Blending Tradition and Modernity

While classic yachts boast a timeless exterior, many have undergone retrofitting to ensure they offer the desired levels of comfort found in modern yachts. These enhancements enable owners to enjoy the best of both worlds: the nostalgic charm of a bygone era combined with the conveniences and amenities expected in contemporary yachting. By marrying tradition and modernity, classic yachts provide a unique experience that celebrates the craftsmanship of the past while meeting the demands of present-day luxury yachting.

A Distinctive Ownership Experience

The ownership of a classic super yacht is a truly exceptional undertaking, setting owners apart from the ordinary. Each vessel holds its own story, imbued with a sense of history and romance that transcends the ordinary. Whether cruising along the coast or partaking in regattas, owning a classic yacht offers a departure from the commonplace and invites individuals to embrace the allure of a bygone era.

Famous Classic Yachts That Turn Heads

When classic yachts glide through the waters, they never fail to capture attention. While modern yachts possess their own allure, classic vessels are admired for their meticulous attention to detail, unique finishes, and the evident love and pride their owners have in maintaining them. Several renowned gentleman’s yachts continue to make waves today, leaving a lasting impression wherever they go.

Christina O

  • Built by Canadian Vickers in 1943, Christina O remains the largest North American yacht in existence, stretching an impressive 325 feet.
  • Originally constructed as a Canadian naval frigate, this classic yacht gained fame as the host to numerous celebrities during the ownership of Aristotle Onassis.

Moonbeam of Fife

  • Completed in 1903 by Fife shipyard, Moonbeam of Fife boasts a century-old legacy and occasionally participates in regattas.
  • This classic sailing yacht spans 105 feet and features an oak hull, wooden superstructure, and exquisite mahogany joinery throughout.


  • Commissioned by automobile magnate Horace Dodge, Delphine was built in 1921 by Great Lakes Engineering Works.
  • With a length overall (LOA) of 258 feet, she offers accommodation for up to 26 guests and 26 crew members.
  • Despite a noteworthy incident where she caught fire and sank in 1926, Delphine underwent a comprehensive refit after being salvaged and has remained a prominent fixture on the east coast, mooring on the Hudson River.


  • Crafted in 1937 by renowned shipyard Camper & Nicholsons, Malahne spans 164 feet and predominantly cruises the Mediterranean and glamorous Cote d’Azur.
  •  This classic yacht played a crucial role during World War II, participating in the evacuation of Dunkirk, before resuming her pleasure cruising.
  • Now privately owned, Malahne has been meticulously restored to her original splendor under the dedicated care of her proud British owner.

Shenandoah of Sark

  •  Built in 1902 by Townsend & Downey Shipyard, Shenandoah (formerly Lasca II) was a symbol of glamour and luxury during the golden era of yachting.
  • Rescued and restored multiple times, Shenandoah underwent meticulous refurbishment by various owners, including Baron Marcel Bich, the inventor of the Bic ballpoint pen.
  • Shenandoah’s enduring legacy includes participating in the America’s Cup and regattas, as well as being a perfectly preserved piece of sailing history, symbolizing timeless elegance.


  • Built in 1906 and served in the British Royal Navy during World War I and World War II.
  • Chartered by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960s, renamed Kalizma as a gift from Burton to Taylor.
  • Kalizma provides accommodation for up to 10 guests in beautifully appointed staterooms, including a stunning master suite and various double and twin cabins.


  • Built in 1928 by Camper & Nicholsons and played multiple roles, including serving in the Royal Navy during World War II.
  • Acquired by Aristotle Onassis and gifted to Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly as a wedding present.
  • Restored and renamed Grace, she is now available for charter in the Galápagos Islands, offering luxurious accommodations for up to 16 guests and 12 crew.

Haida 1929

  • Originally named Haida, this iconic yacht has had a rich history and has undergone various adventures and name changes.
  •  Commandeered by the US Navy during World War II, she played a heroic role in saving lives and protecting key installations.
  •  After a recent, award-winning refit by Pendennis Shipyard, Haida 1929 combines the grandeur of 1930s yachting with modern superyacht luxuries, retaining her timeless exterior lines and original Krupp engines.

La Sultana

  • Originally built as a passenger ferry in Bulgaria in 1962, she later served as a Soviet spy ship in the Black Sea, intercepting radio telecommunications.
  •  After a comprehensive restoration in Casablanca, La Sultana emerged as a majestic cruising yacht with a unique Arabian Nights-inspired decor and Art Deco touches.
  •  The rebuilt La Sultana features luxurious staterooms, indoor swimming pool, hammam, and spacious deck areas, blending classic elegance with modern amenities.


  •  Classic sailing yacht with a colorful past, captivating lords, ladies, and royalty over eight decades.
  •  Owned by Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos and hosted European society, including King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.
  • Meticulously restored to its original grandeur, offering a combination of bygone era refinement and modern superyacht luxuries.
  • Provides genuine sailing experiences in the Caribbean or Mediterranean and participates in classic regattas.
  • Features state-of-the-art technology, spacious guest cabins, ample deck areas for socializing and dining, and a selection of water toys for entertainment.


  • Classic-looking yacht reflecting the golden age of yachting.
  •  Built in 1930 by Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft and later refitted by Devonport Yachts.
  •  Originally commissioned by Russell Algar but sold to Charles McCann and later requisitioned by the US Maritime Commission during World War II.
  • Rescued and restored by Australian film producer Robert Stigwood, renamed Jezebel, and equipped with modern comforts.
  • Acquired by Sir John Paul Getty Jr. and meticulously restored by designer Jon Bannenberg, including exterior and interior redesign and new engines.
  • Relaunched as Talitha G, showcasing a blend of 1930s design and modern updates.
  •  Features an all-new Art Deco interior and attracts attention for its stunning looks and celebrity presence.

The Cost of Classic Superyachts: Maintenance and Love

When it comes to the cost of owning a classic superyacht, there is a common misconception that they are more expensive than their modern counterparts. However, according to Ed Kane, owner of the beautifully restored Sparkman & Stephens yawl Bolero, the normal maintenance and wear and tear costs are comparable to those of a new 73-footer. Dockage and crew expenses remain the biggest costs, regardless of the yacht’s age.

Although the overall maintenance might be different for gentleman’s yachts, the key requirement is an abundance of love. Instead of relying on technical expertise with modern systems, there is a significant amount of varnishing involved. Wilfried Beeck, owner of two towering 12-Metre yachts, Trivia and Cintra, highlights the constant maintenance required. Beeck emphasizes the need for a full-time employee dedicated to sanding and varnishing, especially since damages must be addressed immediately.

The maintenance requirements can vary depending on the sailing location. For example, Beeck notes that two seasons in the Mediterranean require three varnishings per year, whereas in the Baltic, one varnishing per year is sufficient. The difference in climate and exposure affects the frequency of maintenance.

As for purchasing a classic 12-Metre yacht, prices range from £900,000 to £2.25 million, depending on the boat’s condition and pedigree. Beeck spends approximately £90,000 per year on each boat, covering expenses such as mooring, insurance, and repairs. While charter income can offset some of these costs, neglecting the boat for several seasons can lead to substantial expenses.

Considerations for Refitting a Classic Yacht

When it comes to refitting a classic yacht, neglect and the opportunity to transform these beautiful vessels into stunning works of art go hand in hand. Many passionate owners see it as their duty to preserve a small but significant fragment of history. Cameron Ridell, co-owner of Eros, emphasizes that these classics are not just floating museums but also operational vessels. Engaging with a restoration project involves delving into the yacht’s provenance, learning about its history, ownership, race records, and reputation.

Unlike routine maintenance, restoration can be incredibly expensive, making a thorough survey vital to fully understand the scope of the project. Restoration work requires slow and precise craftsmanship, relying on traditional woodworking skills and an experienced eye. While some modern techniques may have their place, it’s important not to lose the essence of a classic yacht. Tara Getty, in the process of restoring his S&S yawl Baruna, appreciates a degree of imperfection that adds to the yacht’s authenticity.

Aside from the yacht’s structure, finding correct or appropriate deck fittings and equipment can pose a challenge. Unsympathetic previous refits or makeshift repairs can make it difficult to distinguish original parts. Care must be taken not to detract from the classic character of the yacht. Getty shares the joy of discovering original cleats and verifying the authenticity of the clock and barometer through reference to archival pictures. Restorations can uncover precious treasures, such as original deckhouse windows or even hidden coins, like the silver shilling found during the refit of Javelin.

During the restoration process, surprises can arise as the news spreads about the rescue of a classic yacht. People come forward with tales, documents, and sometimes even fittings associated with the yacht’s history. The classic boat fraternity, far from being critical, often lends a helping hand, providing magazine articles, artifacts, and scrapbooks related to the yacht.

Choosing a classic yacht for chartering

Choosing a gentleman’s yacht for chartering offers a unique and memorable experience for several reasons:

Timeless elegance and charm

Classic yachts exude a sense of history and sophistication. Their beautiful design, craftsmanship, and attention to detail make them visually stunning vessels. Chartering a classic yacht allows you to step back in time and experience the glamour of yachting from a bygone era.

Authenticity and character

Classic yachts have a rich history and unique stories to tell. They often have interesting backgrounds, having sailed the seas for decades and witnessed significant events. Chartering a classic yacht allows you to be a part of that history, embracing the authenticity and character that these vessels possess.

Exceptional craftsmanship

Classic yachts are renowned for their superior craftsmanship and traditional construction methods. The attention to detail in their design, woodwork, and fittings is exceptional. Being aboard a classic yacht gives you the opportunity to appreciate the fine craftsmanship and experience the artistry of a bygone era.

Sailing experience

Classic yachts often offer an authentic sailing experience, with traditional rigging and sail plans. If you’re passionate about sailing, chartering a classic yacht allows you to experience the thrill of sailing on a vessel that captures the essence of traditional seafaring.

Intimate and personalized experience

Classic yachts tend to be smaller in size compared to modern superyachts. This offers a more intimate and personalized experience for you and your guests. The smaller guest capacity allows for closer interaction with the crew and a tailored charter experience to meet your preferences.

Nostalgic ambiance

Classic yachts evoke a nostalgic ambiance that is hard to replicate. From the creaking of wooden decks to the sound of sails being hoisted, being aboard a gentleman’s yacht can take you to the best phase of your life.

For what purpose classic yachts are chartered?

Classic yachts are chartered for various purposes, each offering a unique and memorable experience. Here are some common reasons why people choose to charter classic sailing yachts:

Luxury Vacations

Classic yachts provide a luxurious and elegant setting for a vacation. Chartering a classic yacht allows you to explore stunning destinations, enjoy privacy and exclusivity, and indulge in personalized services provided by a professional crew. It’s an ideal choice for those seeking a luxurious and intimate vacation experience.

Special Events and Celebrations

Classic yachts offer a unique venue for hosting special events and celebrations. Whether it’s a birthday party, anniversary, wedding, or corporate event, chartering a sailing classic yacht provides a picturesque backdrop and a memorable setting to create unforgettable moments.

Film and Photo Shoots

Classic yachts are often sought after for film and photo shoots due to their timeless beauty and historical significance. These yachts add a touch of authenticity and charm to productions, making them popular choices for movies, TV shows, commercials, and editorial shoots.

Corporate Retreats

Classic yachts provide a sophisticated and memorable setting for corporate retreats and team-building activities. Whether it’s hosting executive meetings, rewarding top performers, or fostering team cohesion, chartering a classic yacht offers a unique and inspiring environment to conduct business activities in style.

Historical and Cultural Exploration

Classic yachts have a rich history and are often considered floating museums. Chartering a classic yacht allows you to delve into maritime heritage, explore historical sites, and experience the culture of different regions. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the craftsmanship, artistry, and traditions associated with classic yachts.

Ultimately, the purpose of chartering a classic yacht varies depending on personal preferences and interests. Whether it’s for relaxation, celebration, adventure, or exploration, chartering a classic yacht allows individuals to immerse themselves in the timeless elegance and charm of these remarkable vessels.

How to book a classic yacht?

Booking a gentleman’s yacht can be an exciting and unique experience. Here are some steps to guide you through the process:

Determine your requirements

Decide on the size of the yacht, the number of guests you’ll be accommodating, the duration of the charter, and the destination where you’d like to sail. Classic yachts come in various sizes and styles, so knowing your preferences will help narrow down your options.

Research classic yacht charter companies

Look for reputable charter companies that specialize in classic yachts. You can search online or consult with yacht brokers who have knowledge of classic yacht charters. Read reviews and compare the services, itineraries, and pricing offered by different companies.

Contact the charter company

Once you have identified a few potential charter companies, reach out to them to inquire about availability, pricing, and any specific requirements you may have. Provide them with details such as the dates of your charter, the number of guests, and any special requests you might have.

Discuss your preferences

Communicate your preferences to the charter company, such as the type of classic yacht you are interested in, any specific features or amenities you desire, and the activities you’d like to engage in during the charter. This will help the charter company suggest suitable options that meet your needs.

Review the contract

Before finalizing the booking, carefully review the charter contract. Pay attention to details such as the charter rates, cancellation policies, included services, and any additional costs or fees. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask the charter company for clarification.

Confirm the booking

Once you are satisfied with the terms and conditions outlined in the contract, confirm your booking by signing the agreement and providing any necessary deposit or payment as specified by the charter company. Ensure that you receive a confirmation of your booking in writing.

Preparing for the charter

Prior to your charter, communicate with the charter company regarding any specific arrangements, such as catering, special events, or additional services you may require. Discuss details such as embarkation and disembarkation procedures, necessary documentation, and any specific safety instructions or guidelines.

Enjoy your charter

On the day of your charter, arrive at the designated location on time and follow the instructions provided by the charter company. Once aboard, familiarize yourself with the yacht’s facilities and safety procedures. Relax and enjoy your time on the classic yacht, immersing yourself in the timeless elegance and charm it offers.

Booking a classic yacht charter requires careful planning and communication with the charter company. By considering your preferences, conducting thorough research, and ensuring clear communication, you can secure a memorable experience aboard a classic yacht.


Classic yachts hold an enduring appeal that transcends time and trends. With their remarkable design, meticulous maintenance, and adherence to the craftsmanship of yesteryears, these vessels stand as testaments to the golden age of yachting. Whether in the form of classic sailing yachts or motor yachts, these timeless treasures allow owners and enthusiasts to experience the allure of a bygone era and become custodians of maritime history. Owning a classic yacht is an invitation to immerse oneself in the beauty, elegance, and nostalgia that define these exceptional vessels.


When selecting a classic yacht, consider factors such as the size of the yacht, the number of guests it can accommodate, the desired destination, the amenities and services provided, and the overall condition of the yacht.

The cost of chartering a classic yacht varies depending on factors such as the yacht’s size, age, location, charter duration, and the time of year.

Yes, classic yacht charters often offer the flexibility to customize the itinerary according to your preferences.

Classic yachts typically offer a range of amenities and services to enhance your charter experience. These may include luxurious cabins with en-suite bathrooms, spacious lounges and dining areas, outdoor decks for sunbathing and relaxation, water toys and equipment for water sports, entertainment systems, Wi-Fi connectivity, and attentive crew members to cater to your needs.

Yes, classic yacht charters come with a professional crew that takes care of the yacht’s operation, maintenance, and guest services.

It’s advisable to book a classic yacht charter as early as possible, especially during peak seasons and popular cruising destinations. 

By Hisham

Hisham is a Dubai based professional associated with Travel and Tourism community, he has been a vetren in field of Organization Development and have traveld across the globe for both work and leasure. His passion for shareing knowledge about is travels started 4 years back during his stay in Europe when he initated a FB monologue called "Malang Ka Safar". He is a story teller with a sense of humor and would like to address the common traveler's challenges and need to know whenever he covers any of his experiances.

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