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William Fife III 38 ft Bermudan Sloop 1925 - Sold



William Fife III 38 ft Bermudan Sloop 1925

Designer William Fife III
Builder William Fife & Son Fairlie
Date 1925
Length overall 38 ft 6 in / 11.73 m
Length deck 38 ft 6 in / 11.73 m
Length waterline 25 ft 4 in / 7.72 m
Beam 8 ft 6 in / 2.6 m
Draft 5 ft 11 in / 1.8 m
Displacement 6.8 Tonnes
Construction Honduran mahogany on oak frames
Engine Yanmar 2YM15 Diesel 2008
Location United Kingdom
Price Sold

These details are provisional and may be amended




ROSEMARY III is a rare example of a smaller 1920s cruising design by William Fife III which he drew with a Bermudan sail plan – and as one would expect from this designer her lines and proportions are exquisite. The boat’s first owner had written to Fife ordering a yacht unhindered by any rating rule – he wanted fast and surefooted and that is what he got! Perhaps a victim of her own success the boat kept sailing - always bringing enjoyment - but working hard. Her virtues nonetheless apparent she was more recently purchased by a relative of William Fife III who set about a sympathetic and total restoration.

ROSEMARY III’s owners’ soulful treatment of this rebuild leaves the yacht looking as she would have done in 1925. Tempting as it might have been to add or change the original plans; they did not succumb to this and the boat sings - seeming much happier as a result – and what a result! To anybody wanting to own one of Fife’s creations this boat has it all and ultimately she is the most fantastic sailing boat - Fife refused to build any yacht that wasn’t "fast and bonnie" and he kept his word. It is also said if he ever designed a boat that wasn’t a work of art, there is no record to be found of its existence.



Built over the winter of 1924/25, her design is judged to be a development of Fife’s Dublin Bay 25 but with longer overhangs and on very similar lines to the much larger CAMBRIA.

William Fife is of course recognised as the architect of some of the most stunning classic yachts on the water by which others are judged. The majority of these spectacular big yachts with their uniformed crews cost a lot to run but all can recognise the importance of the investment in sustaining our yachting heritage. Thus when these larger yachts had paid hands; this yacht was undoubtedly intended for an owner/skipper and friends - and built for local sailing in the Clyde and the West Coast of Scotland.

Commissioned in 1924, the first owner sold her on in 1929 and having developed his taste with ROSEMARY, then commissioned a larger 54 ft yacht from Wm Fife. ROSEMARY’s new owner then brought her to Devon. With then another short intermediate ownership she was sold on again in 1935 to remain with this owner for the next 35 years. A much later change of ownership in 1990 brought a move to Suffolk and an extensive refit.

The refit was followed by several years of very active sailing and racing including many French regattas and UK based events. These included the 5 yearly Fife regattas on the Clyde; so back in her home waters again - and after half a century she has raced in company with some of the most spectacular Fife yachts ever built - and moreover won her class.

Bought by the current serving Royal Navy owners in 2008, she sailed to Dartmouth to begin not so much a refit as a rebirth to produce probably the finest top pedigree yacht of her size, a process taking from 2010 to 2014 and has been completed by Butler and Co. The overall aim of this recent restoration was to return her to the original specification; those plans in owners’ possession - and to strengthen and repair the hull enabling her to continue for another 90 years. In addition to the hull restoration of which very little planking had to be replaced, the interior has been renewed in accordance with the original drawings and re rigged to the original Bermudian rig design with running backstays and new sails to fit.


Construction and finish

- Honduras mahogany planking all copper fastened
- Substantial grown oak frames at approx 3 inch centres
- 2 x Steam bent Canadian rock elm timbers between
- The minimal new planking needed was from a proper – long searched for Honduran log
- Hood ends and garboards completely refastened
- Exceptional faired finish in white enamel
- Gold leaf cove line running out to the signature Fife dragon at bow and stern
- External lead ballast keel secured with new bonze keel bolts
- New bronze strap floors on the oak frames carry the keel bolts thereby spreading the ballast keel load
- New and very long oak step effectively spreads the mast compression loads over the keel below
- Hull strengthened above by way of the mast by new fabricated bronze hanging knees
- All bronze work is new
- New yacht laid solid deck in close grained carefully chosen Oregon pine, caulked and payed


Deck layout, equipment and ground tackle

From aft
- Bronze fairleads on taffrail each side and bronze ensign staff socket over counter
- Toe rails with capping, varnished inside and out
- Varnished teak coverboards
- Yacht-laid classic narrow plank deck round the counter joggled to a king plank sweeping up forward
- Aft deck with teak and bronze mooring cleat on centreline
- Shallow bronze horse on the aft deck takes the main sheet block
- Pair of ash blocks take the double-ended main sheet tails to bronze and teak cleats
- Original iron tiller; varnished teak ferrule to the rudder stock with original bronze domed cap
- Inscribed bronze builder’s plate surrounding stock

- 2 x Pairs of sheet lead ash blocks on cover-boards abaft the cock-pit take Genoa sheet leads
- Varnished teak raised cockpit coamings
- Cockpit; self draining into a bilge sump tank with auto pump overboard
- Raw teak helmsman’s seat aft; removable to enable crew to work the yacht for racing
- Locker door aft to lazarette revealing the stout oak rudder trunking
- Cockpit sole of copper sheet with recessed drains; teak gratings in the well
- Flush, bronze deck filler to fuel tank below port side
- Large lockers under side decks port and stbd with removable bronze hinged doors
- Morse engine controls in stbd locker
- Clear and uncluttered deck to the sides
- Twin bronze and teak bar cleats each side take running backstays and mooring lines
- Raw teak cleats each side for jib and staysail sheets
- Varnished teak coach roof coamings with the deck nicely cambered to increase head-room below
- Sliding teak companionway hatch with twin lift-off panelled doors
- Traditional butterfly skylight with bronze protection bars
- Mast with single spreader
- Bronze gooseneck mast boom fitting and pin rail
- All bronze bottle screws to shroud plates
- 2 x Jib sheet lead ash blocks forward of the mast
- Varnished teak fore hatch with twin lights
- Bronze and teak bar mooring cleat on centreline forward
- 35 lb CQR with warp and chain
- Additional 25 lb CQR
- Bull’s eye fairleads each side deck take sheets aft to cleats outboard on cockpit coaming
- Bronze fairleads on the capping rail forward
- Bronze stem head fitting


Accommodation and domestic equipment

- The cabin has been rebuilt to the original Fife design of 3 berths with the varnished hull planking
- Varnished teak coamings and varnished deck-head above
- Twin panelled doors above a single washboard and a sliding hatch in coach roof
- Compass and echo sounder / log is mounted on another single washboard
- Step down onto raw teak engine box
- Surface and panel below remove to give excellent all round access to the engine
- Further steps down to the cabin sole
- Scrubbed teak cabin sole boards lift to access the bilge
- Shelf to port deep with moulded fiddle rail
- Origo 2 burner spirit stove in the locker is moved out on the surface inboard when in use
- Shelf to stbd with matching fiddle rail and matching locker doors under the side deck
- Locker outboard neatly conceals the engine instruments and electrics panel
- Deep buttoned Chesterfield dark red leather settee berths each side forward in saloon
- Lockers below both sides
- Deep open well space outboard of settees each side for loose gear stowage
- Butterfly skylight in deck head
- 2 x Deck head lights port and stbd
- White painted forward bulkhead with centre doorway to the fore peak
- 2 x Paraffin lamps on fwd bulkhead
- Door to hanging locker to port
- Door to head compartment stbd with Jabsco manual WC
- Forward again are open side lockers/storage space and the fore hatch over
- Option for a fold down pipe cot in the fore peak (not fitted)


Rig, spars and sails

Bermudan Rig
- The rig is entirely new and built to the original Fife plans by Ashley Butler
- New varnished Spruce mast stepped through trunk cabin with tenon into the mast step below
- Gold leaf mast top
- Custom made bronze mast and spar fittings
- New rigging to swaged terminals, bronze rigging screws to new internal bronze chain plates
- Single running backstays split to the spreaders and mast head
- Varnished slab reefing - 3 reefs - Douglas fir boom with bronze fittings
- Varnished Douglas fir self tacking jib boom
- Varnished elm Colin Frake blocks with bronze sheaves and beckets
- English braids classic sheets and halyards throughout.

- New Ratsey and Lapthorn sails in cream Clipper Canvas, traditionally cut with bags 2014.
- Mainsail 40.6 sq m
- Genoa 17 sq m
- Jib 12.1 sq m


Mechanical electrical and tankage

- Yanmar 2YM15 2 cylinder diesel new 2008 6 knots max - under 50 hrs running
- Engine flexibly mounted on new bronze engine beds on centre-line
- 2 Bladed folding propeller off-set under the port quarter
- All new stern gear
- Single lever Morse controls discreetly hidden in stbd side cockpit locker
- 2 x 12 V Batteries in sealed boxes in stbd locker in cockpit well under side deck
- Engine start control panel
- Main services switch board and 2 battery main switches
- Link switch and battery state monitor
- 12 V socket
- New plastic 25 litre plastic fuel tank under port side deck
- Visual access through the cockpit well locker door
- Fuel filter very conveniently sited under the step / engine casing
- No fixed water tanks fitted; water is carried in simple plastic containers ensuring always fresh


Navigation, communications and electronics

- Steering compass
- Raytheon wireless log and echo sounder with triducer
- No other fixed navigation or radio equipment
- No fixed navigation lights
- Portable LED lights included in sale



- 2 x Fire extinguishers
- Manual bilge pump
- Electric automatic bilge pump
- Electric automatic sump pump from cockpit drain



- Sail covers – new full length cotton canvas boom cover, on deck jib cover
- Hull covers – to cover the entire varnished coach roof area
- Fenders and mooring lines – various.
- 2 x 10L plastic diesel jerry cans
- Wooden boathook
- Wooden ensign staff
- Full specification, drawings - some original from Fife’s yard
- Full record of recent refit and restoration


Restoration / refit

ROSEMARY has undergone a complete restoration completed by Ashley Butler & Co over 4 years. All restoration has been completed meticulously and in accordance with the original specification and drawings, the majority of which are held by the current owner. The overarching aim was to return her to her original design and give her a new lease of life as she passed her 90th year.


These particulars have been prepared from information provided by the vendors and are intended as a general guide. The purchaser should confirm details of concern to them by survey or engineers inspection. The purchaser should also ensure that the purchase contract properly reflects their concerns and specifies details on which they wish to rely.


Sandeman Yacht Company

Brokerage Of Classic & Vintage Yachts