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Charles E Nicholson 52ft Bermudan Cutter 1938



Charles E Nicholson 52ft Bermudan Cutter 1938

Designer Charles E and John Nicholson
Builder Camper & Nicholsons, Gosport
Date 1938
Length overall 51 ft 2 in / 15.6 m
Length deck 51 ft 2 in / 15.6 m
Length waterline 37 ft 0 in / 11.28 m
Beam 11 ft 2 in / 3.4 m
Draft 7 ft 10 in / 2.38 m
Displacement 15 Tonnes
Construction Wood part-composite
Engine Yanmar 4JH5E 50hp Diesel (zero hours)
Location Italy
Price EUR 245,000

These details are provisional and may be amended



A late period Charles E Nicholson fast cruiser design of this size is a rare thing indeed, and NESÆA is a genuine sleeping beauty; a vintage yacht with all the charm and the ghosts, but from that period when designers had perfected long keel hull form and moderate displacement. NESÆA is sensitive and bewitching under sail at that magical, manageable length, and there’s a warmth and intimacy to her superb oak interior. After a life of gentle use under long ownerships, then significant and sympathetic structural restoration and upgrading 2006-2010, NESÆA has been carefully laid up under cover and might nowadays be considered an extra special 'barn find', requiring cosmetic but not structural recommissioning. An exciting prospect in every department.



- This is a preliminary presentation of a New Listing
- More specifications to follow



2006 - 2010 At Fiumicino, Italy
- Major garboards-off structural restoration
- All necessary restoration of steel frames and chainplates
- New deck
- Cockpit restoration



Camper & Nicholsons Yard Number 456

NESÆA was built as a stock fast-cruiser by the famous Gosport yard on the back of the commission for her very close sister KORBY (Yard No. 448) from industrialist Stanley Beeton. After the Second World War, the Royal Artillery Yacht Club's ST. BARBARA (#736, 1948) was another close sister, though slightly smaller. Charles E. Nicholson's son John was involved in the design, but she undoubtedly bears the stamp of the great designer's later work, influenced by the new wave of young American designers, especially Olin Stephens. Partly due to the success of Stephens's 50ish feet DORADE and STORMY WEATHER - partly also to the organisation of UK ocean racing into class bands by length, and in a sense of pre-war sensibility - 'fast -cruisers' and ocean-racers of around 50 feet loa had become all the rage in the late 1930's. Names that spring to mind include, William Fife Jr's MERRY DANCER, EVENLODE and SOLWAY MAID, and from the new kids on the block: Robert Clark's ORTAC and ERIVALE, and Jack Laurent Giles's MAID OF MALHAM.

Yard number 456 was sold in build to faithful yard client and owner of C.E. Nicholson designs, C. Eric A. Hartridge, a barrister by training, but independently wealthy from his close family connection with the Houlder Brothers shipping line. Hartridge had previously been first owner of one of the stunning 50ft/ 15m C&N 'GELYCE' launches MAVOURNEEN (#386, 1930), and in 1935 became third owner of the 2nd International Rule 12-Metre IYRUNA (#349, 1927), leading to 1935-1936 involvement in an intriguing merry-go-round of newbuild 12-Metre ownership: he 'traded-in' IYRUNA and commissioned C & N #435 as ALANNA, but passed ownership in build to Richard Fairley early in 1936 and the 12mR was launched renamed EVAINE. Then in 1936, after Bermuda-based powerboat racer Marion B. Carstairs pulled out of her commission for 12-Metre design #454, originally to be HURRICANE, Hartridge took over ownership in build, and 12mR #454 was launched as ALANNA in time for the 1937 season.

But one season of high-intensity 12mR racing was enough for Hartridge. In 1938 he bought the smaller #456, launched by his wife Kathleen (daughter of prominent naval architect and politician Sir James Fortescue Flannery) as NESÆA; powered by Ratsey & Lapthorn sails and a 4-cylinder 22hp Gray Marine petrol auxiliary motor. NESÆA became the family's more handily sized cruiser-racer until the outbreak of the Second World War. ALANNA was purchased by Thomas Sopwith and renamed BLUE MARLIN; after a major twenty-tens restoration in HELSINKI, she is now a major player on the classic 12mR circuit.

Writing a design review in 'The Yachting Year 1946-47', a time when very few yachts were being built amid immediately post-war austerity and shortage of build materials, Eric Hiscock praised in particular NESÆA's unobtrusive drive train arrangement (later adopted by James McGruer), and hinted at her suitability for sailing without professional crew. At the same time, a new chapter was beginning in this beautiful cutter's life.

NESÆA was sold in 1947 to Birmingham architect and First World War Royal Flying Corps pilot Samuel Nathaniel Cooke MBE (1882-1964) whose works there include the Old Rep Theatre and the Stock Exchange, but it seems long forgotten that he was a committed yachtsman for leisure; a member of the Royal Corinthian and Royal Lymington Yacht Clubs. For the 1948 season, Eric Hartridge bought back BLUE MARLIN, by this time fitted with an engine for cruising.

In 1954, NESÆA's penultimate British owner became veteran "Desert Rat" 4th Hussars soldier and Royal Yacht Squadron member Major Harry G. Cowdell. By 1957 she had passed into the hands of Lymington yacht designers Laurent Giles & Partners, presumably for brokerage.

NESÆA's long Italian story began in 1959 under the ownership of Yacht Club Italiano member L. Silvio Viglienzone of Genoa who fitted a new 40 hp Couach diesel motor. There followed in 1965 a step into la dolce vita under one of the major Italian journalists and politicians of the era Luigi Barzini and his wife, the heiress Paola Gadola. His daughter, Benedetta Barzini, born near the wonderful Tuscan port beloved of classic yacht enthusiasts, Porto Santo Stefano, became a 1960s 'It girl' in New York; part of Andy Warhol's circle; courted by Kennedys...

Since 1971, NESÆA has been under the loving care of the family of Engineer Francesco Mandolesi. Although - typically of a yacht originally built speculatively by one the the major yacht builders - she was not originally built to Lloyd's Classification, under Mandolesi's ownership this special yacht was brought up to Lloyd's 100A1, and kept thus in class into the 1980s. In more recent years she has enjoyed a major structural restoration, especially of her steel frames and floors, replacing her original deck, and re-engining, while preserving her wonderful external and internal authenticity. Since this work she has been under careful covered storage - to the extent that she might nowadays be considered an extra special 'barn find', requiring cosmetic but not structural recommissioning.

NESÆA's originals drawings are in the care of the UK's National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London.



- Teak planking on steel/ stainless steel and rock elm frame
- Lead ballast keel c 8 tonnes
- Laid raw teak on ply composite deck (2008)
- Teak deck structures
- Oak interior



- Laid raw teak on ply composite deck
- Raw teak covering boards and toerail
- Teak deck carpentry
- Stainless steel stanchions and bases
- Guardrail gates port and starboard

- Pasarelle socket on taffrail
- Bronze mooring fairleads port and starboard on taffrail
- 2 x Walker log sockets at taffrail
- Flush lazarette hatch
- Teak and bronze cleats port and starboard
- Alloy mainsheet traveller
- Stainless steel running backstay sheaves port and starboard
- Bronze Laurent Giles type Highfield levers port and starboard

Self draining
Restored 2008
- Stainless steel boom gallows
- Teak raised capped cockpit coaming joins trunk cabin bulhead
- 2 x Teak cleats port and starboard on coaming sides
- Merriman type sheeting winch port and starboard on stainless steel mounts
- Bronze binnacle pedestal and ship's wheel
- Raw teak grating curved helm seat hinged at boom gallows
- Varnished teak cockpit seating port and starboard
- Large cockpit lockers under
- Engine control

- Varnished teak uprights
- Laid raw teak on ply composite roof
- Varnished teak margin boards
- 2 x Bronze oval opening ports aft
- Companionway over short bridge deck with sliding hatch and washboards
- 2 x Bronze oval opening ports port and starboard
- 6 x Bronze oval fixed ports port and starboard
- Teak grab rails on trunk cabin port and starboard
- Varnished teak dinghy cradle
- Large butterfly skylight serving saloon, head and cabin
- Bronze Lewmar genoa cars on toerail track port and starboard
- Anchor stowage box immediately fwd of trunk cabin


- Small butterfly skylight over galley
- 'Granny bars' over/ staysail sheet anchor point
- Scuttle forehatch with sliding hatch and washboards
- Round bronze opening ports port and starboard
- Sockets for port and starboard lights
- Windlass position (presently off boat)
- Raw teak mooring cleats port and starboard
- Bronze fairleads port and starboard
- 2 x Stainless steel bow rollers




- Oak carpentry
- 3 x Steps down to engine box
- Seats port and starboard
- Doghouse effect in a trunk cabin
- 2 x Opening ports
- 3 x Steps down to saloon
- Mostly original mahogany interior and sole
- 4 x Opening ports
- 2 x Deckhead lights
- 1 x Bulkhead light

- Panelled oak
- Settees / berths port and starboard
- 2 x Pulman berths drop down from port and starboard panels
- Ship's isolator panel to starboard
- Sideboard and drinks cabinet to port
Access to WC Compartment to starboard
- Butterfly skylight part over saloon/ part over WC comp.

- Jabsco manual toilet
- Teak sole with stainless steel shower tray
- Ceramic basin
- Mixer taps and shower
- Locker

Passage offset to port

- Panelled oak
- Access to WC compartment
- Berths port and starboard
- Lockers and drawers under
- Lockers above port and starboard
- Chest of drawers
- Hanging locker
- 3 x Bulkhead lights

Butterfly skylight over
To port
- Brushed stainless steel sink
- Mixer tap
- Salt water tap
- Lockers outboard and under sink
- Locker forward
- To starboard
- 3 x Burner hob
- Brushed aluminium counter
- Isotherm fridge
- Locker outboard

- Berths port and starboard
- Lockers and drawers under
- Scuttle forehatch to foredeck
- 2 x Opening ports
- 2 x Bulkhead lights



- Fractional Bermudan cutter rig
- 3 x Spreaders + jumper strut
Spruce spars believed original
- Hollow spruce mast
- 2 x Halyard winches
- Boom
- Staysail boom

- Mainsail
- Staysail
- Yankee No.1
- Yankee No. 2
- Genoa
- Spinnaker

- Sail boom covers
- Awnings
- Overall cover



- Yanmar 4JH5E 4 cylinder 50hp Diesel engine (zero hours)
- 3-Bladed propeller offset to port of fairing skeg above rudder blade

- 12 V, 24 V & 220V systems

- 2 x Diesel fuel tanks: 180L & 160L
- Fresh water tankage - TBA
- Pressurre water system
- Hot water system



- Plath steering compass on brass binnacle





- Bronze plunger manual bilge pump in cockpit
- Liferaft (Service date TBA)
- More TBA



- Pasarelle
- Boarding ladder
- Cockpit table
- Boathook
- More TBA


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.


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