YachtsThe construction of luxury motor yachts in the 1960's would further enhance the reputation of the Berwick yard.In the early 1960's demand for fishing vessels that had been the main source of employment since the late 1950's tailed off. The yard was forced to look to other markets for orders. It was during this period that Fairmile would establish a world-wide reputation for the production of steel displacement luxury motor yachts. Between 1962 and 1966 Fairmile constructed a total of eight yachts for UK and overseas buyers. The first of the Berwick luxury yachts was the 73’ Tia built for a Mr. T. Dunk of the charter firm Kilbrannon Marine Ltd., Barrhead. Powered by two Gardner Marine Engines, Tia left the Tweed in March 1962.The success of this vessel saw more orders quickly follow. Between 1962 and 1965 a further five yachts were constructed in succession. These were Golden Hart, Island Waters, Tanit, Albacora and Babette II. Of these vessels Golden Hart was the odd one out in that she was a twin-masted steel-hulled sailing ketch described in her general arrangement plan as a 'motor sailer'.Buyers of Fairmile yachts came from Britain, the United States and Europe. Island Waters, was built for an American owner, businessman and and socialite Gurnee Munn Jr. Albacora was built for a Frenchman a M. de Cheris. The 1962 build Tanit was originally ordered by a Spanish nobleman the Duke of Tamames while a UK customer, Mr. John Bett had two yachts, Tavit and Lanesra, constructed at the yard. The motor yacht Babette II, was constructed for a Spanish nobleman, the Maques de Paul and was launched at Berwick in October 1964 by his fiancee Barbara Kalachnikoff, the future Maquesa. For reasons unknown the owner of Golden Hart requested that the building of the vessel should not be publicised. Golden Hart was built to a design by Leslie Bewes and carried 1400 square feet of sail. The hull and superstructure were built at Berwick but fitting out was completed by A.H. Moody and Sons of Southampton. There is a fine picture of the vessel underway in full sail in Frank and Keith Beken's 1964 edition Beauty of Sail, (George G. Harrap and Co, 1964). A general arrangement drawing is shown below.In August 1967 the biggest yacht to be built at Berwick took to the Tweed. Lanesra, measuring 98’ 6 and powered by twin 240 horse power Mercedes-Benz engines was built for a Maltese-registered company, Bahhar Marine (Malta) Ltd. Lanesra had the distinction of being the first yacht to be built at Berwick with twin rudders. The observant reader will note that Lanesra is ‘Arsenal’, spelt backwards. The vessel’s name was attributed to the owner being a fan of the club. Lanesra was one of two yachts built for John Torre Bett, an Oxford-educated solicitor and businessman who founded Earnley School, Chichester. Lanesra was distinct from other yachts built at Berwick in that the hull was painted pale green hull rather than the traditional white. A year after leaving the Tweed the yacht was made available for charter and a brochure from this period can be viewed by clicking on the image to the right. Lanesra was the second of two yachts ordered by the same owner, the first one being Tavit that can be seen being launched in the photograph below.Yachts built for American owners were fitted with what were known as 'flopper stoppers'. These were a type of stabilising device comprising of a metal plate suspended and lowered into the water on the port and starboard sides by davits or poles. They were effective in reducing the amount of roll in a swell when underway or at anchor. Other vessels notably Lanesra were fitted with fixed stabilisers or were engineered in a way that would allow them to be fitted later. Witness testimony from former yard workers who sailed on the yachts during trials and delivery trips (including down the North Sea, through the English Channel and Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean) confirms that the Fairmile yachts had excellent sea-keeping qualities. This is no surprise as their hulls were derived from the successful 'Fair Isle' trawler design. Lanesra would be the penultimate motor yacht to be built at Berwick, the final vessel being Thelma M. III.It is known that at least one yacht built to a Fairmile design was constructed at the Gideon Shipyards, Groningen, Netherlands. Yacht HistoriesThe first of the Fairmile yachts, Tia, was to have a sad end. Only eighteen months after leaving the Tweed Tia caught fire and sank after an engine room explosion 100 miles off Lisbon while returning to the UK from charter work in the Mediterranean. The cause was attributed a fault with the vessels gas heating system that had been modified while the vessel was in Spain.Tavit, launched in 1965 but not completed until 1966, has underwent several name changes and has been sympathetically modified since launch. In 2006 it was listed as Virginia G on the Rigo Yacht International website. The vessel had been extensively overhauled and refitted in winter 2001. External modifications included the construction of a cowl behind the bridge and a remodelled upper deck and superstructure. The vessel appears to have been re-engined at some point with Gardner engines. In 2006 Virginia Gwas based in Viareggio, Tuscany and was available for charter. The vessel underwent a further name change and in October 2010 was spotted as Atrevida at the new marina, Lido Di Ostia, Rome (see above). The vessel can be positively identified as the former Tavit by comparing features of the hull (including the position of the portholes, hawsepipe on the bows and rubbing strake), with those shown in earlier photos. Tavit was also to feature on the big screen in the 1971 film adaptation of the Alistair Maclean novel When Eight Bells Toll that starred Anthony Hopkins, Nathalie Delon, Robert Morely, Jack Hawkins and Corin Regrave. For the movie Tavit was renamed Firecrest, and acted as the base for secret agent Philip Calvert (played by Anthony Hopkins).In December 2010 the former 1962-build Tanit (Yard Number 571) was offered for sale through a Spanish yacht broker having undergone an extensive refit. As can be seen in the picture on the right, modifications have been made to the original upper deck and superstructure but the vessel retains the characteristic high bow and cruiser stern. In 2020 the vessel was based in Barcelona and listed as available for charter. The vessel had been renamed Fairmilein acknowledgement of it’s heritage. In publicity photos the original ship’s bell inscribed with Tavit could be seen onboard. Another Berwick-built yacht with an interesting history is the former 73’ Albacora. Originally built for a French owner, a M. de Cheris, Albacora was launched on14th November 1962 and completed the following May. The vessel then underwent several changes of ownership and was later known as Taora (left) and then Dersou. In 2006 as Dersou the vessel sustained serious fire damage and later underwent major external and internal modifications including the fitting of a new wheelhouse at a shipyard in the Netherlands. In 2011 another fire broke out while the vessel was moving berths again causing serious damage. In 2020 the vessel was based in the Netherlands it’s current owners having undertaken a lengthy restoration.The 1965 build, Babette II remains in service having undergone an extensive refit in 1999. In 2007 the vessel was based in Majorca and advertised for sale. In 2023 the vessel (now renamed Vanilla), was located in Barcelona awaiting a further refit, the original Glennifer engines having been replaced by Detroit 8V71’s in the early seventies.The final yacht to be built at Berwick was Thelma M. III constructed for an American businessman Mr. L.G.F Di Varmo who planned to use the vessel as a floating home for him and his wife. Although launched in May 1971 a contractual dispute that was eventually resolved through an out of court settlement meant that the yacht did not leave Berwick for the United States until the following July. In 2006 the former Thelma M III was still based in the United States and registered as Steel Magnolia having undergone a seven-year complete restoration and overhaul (see photo above).In 2008 another United States-based yacht, the classic 82' 1963 build Island Waters,was listed for sale under it's original name. The vessel, the first of the steel motor yachts to be built at Berwick, was originally registered in Palm Beach and based in Florida before transferring to the West Coast. Up to this date it had five owners including the Los Angeles-based organisation 'Recovery at Sea', a rehabilitation project providing counselling and career development opportunities to people in need. Since leaving Berwick the vessel has had several names including Cherokee V and John Isaacs. In 2020 the vessel was listed on several yacht websites as Mongoose.The biggest of the Fairmile yachts, Lanesra, was at one point owned by an American businessman and based on the West Coast of the United States. During the vessels life it has undergone three major refits involving a complete remodelling of the stern, interior and superstructure. The first of the three refits was carried out in Long Beach, California in 1975 which saw the yacht converted for use as as an oceanographic research vessel. Ten years a second major refit was carried out in Savannah, Georgia and the vessel reverted to it's original use. Major changes at this time included a redesigned stern and extensive work on the upper deck to allow the ship to carry accommodate an Aerospatiale helicopter (see picture above). The overall effect meant that the vessel is barely recognisable to the ship that left Berwick in the mid-sixties. In 2008 Tiffara was based in Chile, South America and employed as a luxury cruise vessel providing bespoke cruises combining the natural beauty of Patagonia with fine food and wines. In January 2010 it was listed for sale on a number of yacht broker websites.