|Builder||Percy Mitchell, Portmellon, Cornwall|
|Length overall||55 ft 3 in / 16.84 m|
|Length deck||55 ft 3 in / 16.84 m|
|Length waterline||38 ft 0 in / 11.58 m|
|Beam||11 ft 7 in / 3.53 m|
|Draft||7 ft 6 in / 2.29 m|
|Construction||Carvel pitch pine on oak|
|Engine||4 cylinder Peugeot/Vetus diesel|
|Vat||VAT Not Paid|
These details are provisional and may be amended
If ever a yacht deserves a new lease of life, it's MORVA. This beautiful and incredibly carefully conceived Alfred Mylne-designed true fast cruising/ ocean racing bermudan cutter seems to have slipped under the radar during almost 40 years of the 'classic yacht revival', yet has the pedigree and past proven performance - and of course good looks - to become a quite stunning revival. Built by a Cornish yacht builder of almost ethereal cult status, Percy Mitchell, MORVA's race history ranges from wins at pre and post Second World War Cowes Weeks, and RORC offshore races, to race wins at 1970s Antigua Classic Yacht Regattas. Her restoration project is under way, but needs finished. Isn't it about time such Mylne classics as THE BLUE PETER, EILIDH and IRINA VII got to joust with their close cousin, MORVA?
Current hull works status
- Ballast keel removed and re-fastened with new keelbolts
- Hull completely re-fastened
- All hull splines removed
- Port side replacement complete
- Starboard side replacement 75% complete
- Suspect frames have replaced
- Iron floors replaced with fabricated stainless steel
- Suspect planking butts reworked
- Majority of hull re-faired
- Ian Nicolson of A. Mylne & Co has inspected
- Survey report available on request
Alfred Mylne & Co design no. 391
Percy Mitchell yard no. 91
When commissioning owner, Percy M Holman - fourth generation leader of his family's successful Cornish mining equipment business, future president of the Rugby Football Union, and future Admiral of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club - decided he needed a new fast cruising and ocean racing yacht, it would have been natural to turn to the designer of his present vessel, the Alfred Mylne-designed Clyde 20-Ton One Design TIGRIS. And it would have been just as natural to place the build contract with Percy Mitchell of Portmellon, not least because it was relatively easy to follow the build progress there. In the winter of 1937-38 it would have been no more testing a drive from his Camborne home than it is nowadays, and hundreds of miles closer than the next nearest high quality yacht builder.
However, MORVA was at the extreme size of Mitchell's yard's logistical capabilities: her launching was a major event, beautifully captured in our main image, and not without trauma. But despite being a wonderfully moderate displacement yacht for her size, she survived, no doubt because of the strength and quality of her construction in design and execution. The quality of materials and finish employed by Mitchell were astounding, and have stood the test of time ever more: pitch pine and teak with bronze diagonal strapping; the best.
Apart from MORVA's striking beauty, perusal of her original general arrangement here is revealing. Mylne designed a quite revolutionary layout, well ahead of its time by UK standards, superbly thought out for cruising, passagemaking and offshore racing. Believe it or not, a dedicated chart table wasn't common then in the UK, and well placed wet weather gear stowage not the norm either. Her owner's stateroom could be truly private, and the professional crew accommodation offered unusual space and comfort, with the possibility of sharing a toilet with guests, and with refrigeration in the galley - suggesting that summer cruises might have extended far south, well into and beyond the Bay of Biscay - perhaps after the finish of some of the races listed below. Her power came from Ratsey & Lapthorn sails and a American Gray Sea Scout 20 hp petrol auxiliary.
Holman would keep MORVA for almost the rest of his life into the 1960s, eventually sharing her with Nicholas Holman. Before and after the Second World War she took part in most of the major Royal Ocean Racing Club offshore races, and in the 1939 Fastnet Race “Open Class” rubbed shoulders with a mouth watering collection of famous names including: NORDWIND (Henry Guber, the German Kreigsmarine-owned eventual record-breaking winner); LATIFA (Fife); BENBOW (Clark/C&N); BLOODHOUND (CE Nicholson/C&N); ZEEAREND (S&S/de Vries Lentsch); HAMBURG (Henry Rasmussen/A&R); OLIVIER VAN NOORT (de Vries Lentsch Jr) ; ERIVALE (Clark); EVENLODE (Fife); ILEX (Nicholson); MARY BOWER (Clark); MAID OF MALHAM (Giles); ROLAND VON BREMEN (Gruber); STIARNA (Nicholson).
Some of MORVA's racing achievements during these early days were:
1939 13th in the Fastnet Race
19?? 4th Cowes to Dinard race
1947 Winner Solent to Falmouth race
1950 Winner Falmouth to Belle Ile race
1953 4th Plymouth to LaRochelle race
1953 16th in Class II, the Fastnet race
1954 Winner Brixham to Belle Ile race
MORVA's first change of ownership was in 1963 when Holman sold her to fellow Royal Yacht Squadron member and career soldier, Lt Col Lionel Heathcote Landon, and she moved to a new base at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. During Landon's ten years at the helm it's probable that she took part in sail training races as her sail number changed from the RORC's '254' to 'TS K8'. For sure Landon cruised extensively with her, and "MORVA" trophies he presented are still coveted at two of his yacht clubs, the Royal Solent at Yarmouth, and Royal Lymington.
In 1973 W.B. Podevin of Wanstead, London, became MORVA's third owner and it is possible that through the mid 1970s her home port was Burnham-on-Crouch.
By 1978 she had moved to Gibraltar flag, and is recorded in the Caribbean during the late 1970s. Two known owners there were Belgian aristocrat Edith Frésart de Clercx de Waroux, and well-known Antigua-based yachtsman Hans Lammers - purchased by him, the story goes, over the counter of English Harbour's Red Snapper bar, now better known as Abracadabra.
In a brief flirtation with MORVA, Lammers achieved class wins at Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta before swapping her c1979 for the 1910 Herreshoff schooner QUEEN MAB. Lammers returned the steel schooner's name to the original VAGRANT and as such she was eventually bought and restored by Peter de Savary to become mother ship for the Americas Cup Victory 83 Challenge.
After that the MORVA trail runs a bit cold, but the wonderful reality is that she survives and has great potential for revival.
©2023 Iain McAllister/ Sandeman Yacht Company Ltd.
- Pitch pine carvel planking
- Oak sawn and Canadian rock elm bent frames
- Original lead keel, 9 tons
- Stainless steel floors
- Teak laid deck on larch beams
- Bronze deck strapping
- Wrought iron hanging knees
- Teak house, hatches, coamings and rails
- Modest deck houses give wide, clear deck areas
- 2 x Mooring fairleads at taffrail
- Mainsheet horse
- Well type cockpit with seats being an extension of the deck
- Low, proportionate coamings
- Highfield levers for running backstays
- Tiller steering
- Assortment of mixed vintage sheet winches
- Over bridge deck to companionway house to aft accommodation
- Prism decklight and mushroom vent to starboard
- Forward to companionway house to main accommodation
- Butterfly skylight immediately forward
- Granny bars in way of mast
- Skylight hatch and Dorade vent over fwd accommodation
- Scuttle forehatch and ladder
- MORVA's interior has been removed and will need to be restored
- The very practical original layout is described in the HISTORY section above
- And shown on the original general arrangement drawings in the gallery
- Original hollow sitka spruce mast and boom
- Mast cracked but deemed repairable by Ian Nicolson of A. Mylne & Co
- The majority of the original sails, rig and hardware is present with the boat
4 cylinder Peugeot/Vetus diesel engine
- Semi Trailer
- Full set of Alfred Mylne drawings
The 1930s images courtesy of Gary Mitchell, grandson of the builder
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.