The boss is also quite pleased with the way the sundeck turned out. Originally, the stacks for Paloma’s engines were concealed in a funnel on the uppermost deck, and the rest of the area was devoted to navigation equipment. Since it wasn’t a guest area, the decks were metal as well. Now, teak stretches from one end to the other, stopping only to wrap around the Jacuzzi, itself raised up a set of teak-laid steps. A handful of lounge chairs here as well as on the alfresco area one deck down (also teak-laid, befitting a proper classic yacht) invite the 12 guests she’s certified to carry to linger a while and enjoy the nearly panoramic views.
In fact, that lower aft deck wasn’t even a truly alfresco area when Paloma was built. The deck above it extended farther aft, creating shade. Given that the boss wanted the yacht to charter in the Med and the Caribbean, and given how much charterers enjoy being out in the sun, the crew removed part of the overhang. They even removed part of the second deck itself, to permit sun to reach down to a seating area curving along Paloma’s canoe stern.
The owner himself even got into the design mode. While he trusted Yendle to make major modification decisions without him—"There were only a few things the boss and I discussed over the phone"—he wanted to take on the master suite himself. Despite the previous two refits, this was the first time he’d actually designed a cabin. Yendle and the crew lent a few hands by building a full-scale mockup out of polystyrene. It took two days, but it was worth it: Yendle says they all agreed that "it was too much of a risk to build it [onboard] from his head." Once the spatial relations of furnishings and foot traffic were finalized, "it was quite simple from there on," the captain explains, as the owner had already chosen the mahogany stain and tones for the rest of the soft goods.
Yendle and his crew were able to complete the refit, setback and all, in a 12-month period; even Malta Drydock’s management was astounded by the fast turnaround. However, another component of the refit remained: MCA compliance. Paloma needed to comply with the code’s strict safety rules in order to charter. "Trying to bring a 1965 vessel to MCA is very, very difficult," Yendle says. For example, the yacht needed a load-line certificate, something never previously obtained, as well as an inclinometer test. Thankfully, Yendle reports, Paloma ’s refit resulted in a 60-percent improvement in her test.
Stepping aboard Paloma today is like taking a step back in time, comfortably surrounded by traditional wood paneling (one of the few original features left onboard) in a country-house-like atmosphere. Yet, like a thoroughly modern yacht, she serves up her creature comforts without you ever taking notice of the technology that allows for it all.
So to some degree, Paloma has changed an awful lot. To another, she hasn’t changed a bit—and this time, that’s a high compliment.
Paloma is available for charter through Nigel Burgess (212) 223-0410.
Undertaking a refit of a classic yacht can be daunting for even the most experienced owner. And as we know all too well, given the passion for the water inherent in any yachtsman, matters of the head are often overruled by matters of the heart. If you’re smitten with a classic cruiser in need of some major TLC, or if you’re overseeing a refit on someone’s behalf, heed these words of advice from Capt. Mark Yendle:
1. Trust your captain. It’s imperative that you give him "the power to make decisions without having to call the office for each quotation that comes in," Yendle says.
2. Budget wisely. "Don’t try cutting corners to make it more attractive to the owner, be honest about what it’s going to cost," he stresses. And above all, ensure you order backup equipment. "Reliability of the vessel is more important than money," he adds.
3. Keep the schedule flexible. Inevitably setbacks occur (witness the asbestos problem with Paloma), and sometimes shipments just don't arrive on time.
4. Assemble a good crew who can and will do some of the work themselves. Beyond the cost advantage, there's a huge payoff in pride.—D.M.B.
This article originally appeared in the August 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.