|R.A. Newman & Sons, Poole
|90 ft 0 in / 27.43 m
|90 ft 0 in / 27.43 m
|81 ft 0 in / 24.69 m
|18 ft 0 in / 5.49 m
|7 ft 0 in / 2.13 m
|Teak planking on steel frames
|2 x Gardner 8LXB 8-Cylinder Diesels 160 hp each
These details are provisional and may be amended
SOMERSET's original build under Lloyds 100A1 survey -- by one of the best yards; from the finest of materials; to an exacting and highly intelligent design and construction specification by the coming force in British motor yacht design -- has resulted in a better ability than many of her generation to withstand later years of neglect. Known to countless mariners as Warsash College’s navigation school ship, yet oozing mid-century chic with a former life of luxury on the French Riviera, SOMERSET is quite simply the most eligible and potentially rewarding large volume classic motor yacht UK restoration candidate we know. Work on her structural needs began two years ago and a new owner is required to keep SOMERSET, ex ZAVIDA, ex SHU-SHU, heading once again in the right direction -- and to unquestionably enjoy the result.
- Programme of plank fastening checks and replacement as necessary
- Treatment of steel frames and deck beams
- Fore and aft deck given plywood sub deck
- Topsides fairing and re-finishing
- Brightwork re-finishing
SOMERSET was launched as SHU-SHU at Hamworthy, Poole, in the spring of 1956 for 48-year-old Irishman Donald Henry Ewan McCowen, from a branch of a successful Tralee, Co. Kerry, merchant, ship owning and brokering family firmly established in the English home counties. The name is believed to be an affectionate family nickname for his newborn youngest daughter.
Powered originally by twin Gleniffer DH8 8-cylinder 160 hp diesels, she was then believed the largest yacht by gross tons to be launched at Poole, yet her displacement of 95 tons and cruising speed was similar to many more narrow-gutted contemporaries. The locally-based designer Frederick R. Parker was clever, and developing a special post-war reputation for stylish and efficient, large volume motor yachts after a thorough grounding as understudy to Fred Shepherd. During the Lloyd’s ✠100A1 build, R.A. Newman are believed to have sub-contracted the bending of the steel frames to Camper & Nicholsons, while the aluminium superstructure - which has stood the test of time remarkably well - was most probably by Hamble River light alloy specialists Universal Shipyards.
McCowen had been a successful oarsman during the 1930’s: a member of the of victorious Cambridge crew in the 1932 Boat Race that subsequently represented the UK at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, just missing out on a bronze medal, and coach of the 1936 Boat Race-winning Cambridge crew. After surviving an eventful and highly decorated Second World War spent mostly as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Lieutenant Commander in motor torpedo boats - including service at the Normandy Landings - he took to yachting and golf as his leisure pursuits.
He seems to have experimented with successive immediately post-war yacht ownerships, including the 1937 Robert Clark Mystery Class MYSTICO, commissioning the 1947 Berthon Gauntlet Class sloop GEMINI, and between 1949 and 1952 briefly owning the 1935 Charles E. Nicholson ocean-racer FOXHOUND, close sister of BLOODHOUND and STIARNA - a seminal trio. By 1952 FOXHOUND’s ownership had transferred to The Hon Mrs Rachael Pitt-Rivers, and after four years without a yacht McCowen settled for the sporting combination of SHU-SHU as mother ship to the Bjarne Aas-designed International One Design class sloop SUSIE (K6), racing in the Royal Corinthian Yacht club’s 20-strong Cowes fleet.
In 1960 SHU-SHU’s ownership transferred to Albert Edward Parkinson, chairman of Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Company, then one of Britain’s largest civil engineering contractors; especially busy at this time building sections of England’s emerging motorway network. Parkinson seems to have liked her so much that he quickly commissioned Fred Parker to design her larger successor, the 106 ft SUNIPER, built in steel by the Sunderland shipyard Austin & Pickersgill.
Once SUNIPER was ready, SHU-SHU transferred to Desmond F.L. West of Dublin, but his membership of the Royal Southern Yacht Club suggests that she perhaps was not berthed in Ireland. SHU-SHU was renamed ZAVIDA by 1963 and by 1964 her ownership had transferred again, to Worcestershire iron founder Malcolm S. Vaughan whose family firm produced a multitude of products, from ‘Vono’ bed frames and mattresses (Bailey Bridges and ammunition during the Second World War), to ‘Revo’ electric cookers, fires and traffic signals.
After Vaughan’s death in 1968, a new career began as radar and navigation instruction vessel to the University of Southampton School of Navigation, the precursor of Warsash Maritime School. Renamed SOMERSET after Mrs Pearl Somerset Wakeford, the late wife of the school's director 1935 - 1970, Captain George W. Wakeford, OBE, eventually through the 1980s as ship simulator technology gradually took over, SOMERSET was chartered to supplement her running costs resulting in some interesting cruises for her permanent crew. This included working on South Coast of England and Isles of Scilly seabed surveys with the University's Department of Oceanography, and seabed sampling for the Department of Biology. And on one occasion she spent 21 days on station off the west coast of the Outer Hebrides to count how many large ships were following the maritime recommendation to stay outside rather than making the short-cut passage through The Minch. During this period SOMERSET regularly acted as Committee Vessel and Guard Ship at Cowes for the Island Sailing Club's Round the Island Race. The original Gleniffer engines were replaced by the present Gardners in 1979.
Eventually SOMERSET returned to private ownership, with the present restoration project gradually correcting a number of years of decline. SOMERSET, ex ZAVIDA, ex SHU-SHU is once again heading in the right direction.
©2023 Iain McAllister/ Sandeman Yacht Company Ltd.
- Originally built under Lloyd's Survey to Lloyd’s ✠100A1
- 2 ½ inch Burma teak planking, splined above waterline
- Galvanised coach bolt fastened
- Steel frames
- Teak and steel backbone
- Steel partial bulkhead aft end of forward accommodation
- Steel collision bulkhead fwd of forecabin
- Steel bulkhead aft of engine room
- Aft steel bulkhead
- Teak deck planking over steel deck beams
- Aluminium alloy spurn water
- Teak cap rail
- Aluminium alloy superstructure
- Accommodation on 2 deck levels with headroom generally exceeding 6 ft
- The accommodation could fit the present layout or be substantially changed
- Top deck level; foredeck, bridge, galley, dining area and saloon towards aft deck
- Below decks with separate companionway access amidships and aft
- Large Double cabin aft head and bathroom
- Large owners cabin with head and shower
- Large walk -in engine room
- Forward saloon with dining area
- Galley space
- Corridor forward
- Single cabins each side with shower compartment fwd to port and head to stbd
- Deck fittings are substantially original and mostly bronze
- 2 x Kent Clearview Screens
- 240 V 3-phase electric anchor windlass
- 2 x Horizontal chain gypsies; 2 x horizontal capstans
- 2 x Stockless anchors and chain
- 2 x Gardner 8LXB 8-cylinder diesels 160 hp each (1979)
- Max speed 10.5 knots, cruising 8 knots
- Consumption c 8 Gal/ hour per engine at cruising speed
- Bronze propeller shafts in oil lubricated stern tubes
- Bronze 3-bladed propellers
- Cable controls to engine from bridge
- Hydraulic wheel steering
- Lister diesel generator 25 kVA 3
- 12 / 24 V Electrical installation and 240 V / 415 V shore power installation with cable
- Pressurized hot water system
- Galvanised steel 1,500 gallons fuel tank total capacity
- Galvanised steel 400 gallons fresh water tank capacity
- Air conditioning installation partially completed
- Full diesel central heating (2004)
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.