Type: Medina Class Motor Yacht
Length: 45 Feet
Beam: 11 Feet
Draft: 4ft 6inch
Displacement: 13.78 Tons (21 Tons Thames measurement)
Engine: Beta 75hp x 2
Construction: Burmese Teak on English Oak and Canadian Rock Elm
Builder: Saunders Roe, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Maimonde was built in 1937 by Saunders Roe in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Although the company is better known these days for its wartime flying boats and the post war invention and development of the hovercraft, Saunders Roe has a distinguished boatbuilding history. Prior to WWII, Saunders Roe’s core business was building river launches, lifeboats, motor yachts and speedboats; including record-breaking Miss England (1930) II and Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird (1937).
Maimonde is a 45ft Medina Class motor yacht, of which 8 were built between 1935 and 1939. Her first owner was Mr Raymond Gough of Birmingham. She has a teak hull, deck and superstructure and is built on oak and rock elm timbers, beams and keel. The extensive use of teak is no doubt why 5 of the 8 built are still afloat today after 80-85 years. The original specification for the Medina class yachts lists limed Austrian oak and pine for the interior fit out; however, little of Maimonde’s internal detail remains following decades of deck leaks.
The boat received a fair degree of attention from the yachting press pre-war with articles such as “To Paris with Maimonde” and “Maimonde: The First of the Saunders Roe 1937 45ft Cruisers” appearing in The Motorboat magazine in 1937 and famous photographer “Beken of Cowes” captured her sea trials in a series of three, much valued photographs. Unfortunately, her first owner Mr Raymond Gough only had three summers in which to enjoy her before she was requisitioned by the Navy for the Dunkirk evacuation. The Royal Navy held onto her for the remainder of the war and copies of the frequently published “Red List” (ADM208: Minor War Vessels in Home Waters) show her as operating as a naval auxiliary (with Lewis gun(s)!) out of Ramsgate, Holehaven and at Cliffe on the Thames Estuary. A postcard dated 1987 from a Mr J R Pearce OBE to the previous owner discloses that he served aboard Maimonde in 1940, doing “convoy barrage balloon work” in the Thames estuary.
Maimonde was a forgotten little ship – her role in the Dunkirk evacuation was only recently rediscovered. Research undertaken during the 2018-2021 restoration revealed that she was listed as a Dunkirk Little Ship in two respected books on the subject (1,2) and by the archivists at the Little Ship Club in London where she is listed amongst the member’s vessels that took part in the evacuation. While no specific details of her action are given, it is hoped that further research will prove fruitful.
It appears that Mr Gough retained ownership of Maimonde after the war as her British Register, or “Blue Book”, shows that ownership first changed in 1948. She then passed through a series of owners (to date, she has had 12) and was briefly renamed Norbar in 1959, returning to her original name in, it is thought, 1963 when ownership changed again.
Considerable detailed structural restoration work has been completed over the past three years, the largest parts of which include a new deck, coach roof and wheelhouse roof and two new engines (believed to be her fourth set). Interior restoration work is ongoing…
B.E.F Ships before, at and after Dunkirk; John de S. Winser. ISBN 0905617916
The Ships Involved In Operation Dynamo; Jean Poirriez, Dunkirk Historical and Archaeological Society. ISSN 07694539