Over the Rainbow — By Diane M. Byrne
— February 2005
Over the Rainbow, Head Over Heels
Part 2: The management and workforce of Mondomarine consider Over the Rainbow to be the most important and prestigious refit project the yard has completed to date.
The bottom line: Folon learned that the original estimate in terms of time to rebuild was off by about 10,000 man-hours, or four months. The 12-month refit would now be a 16-month refit.
He and Legros remained undaunted, as did Mondomarine. The yard even brought in four additional carpenters from Sicily to work on the new structure, restoring the wood frames where possible and replacing the many rotted planks, also rebuilding the bow and stern. Even though the original teak main deck was in relatively good shape, all agreed that it would be best to overlay it with a marine plywood layer and new teak. Then imagine the painstaking detail that went into replicating and rebuilding the deckhouse and mast. (Recall that the roof of the deckhouse was badly rotted; the concurrence was that it would truly be dangerous to try to refasten it.) And imagine the surprise and delight when a pair of 250-hp Gardiners—the same engines the yacht had back in 1930—were located in working condition.
While the restoration remained true to the yacht’s original 1930’s design, Folon did request the lengthening of the bridge deck. The end result is both stylish and functional. Not only does it shade the entire aft-deck seating and dining area, but it also creates additional relaxation space aft of the wheelhouse. And it provides a true resting place for the 16-foot, mahogany-and-teak tender that Folon designed (“I looked everywhere for a wooden tender, which I didn’t find, so I created her, according to the purest traditions,” he explains) and had built at a yard in Viareggio. When the yacht first launched, all those decades ago, she’d carried a small boat, but it was housed in a cradle system that occupied most of the aft deck and rose up to the bridge deck.
The interior of Over the Rainbow also received some modernization. The galley is now twice its original size, containing the crew mess and, interestingly, a wooden sink. Folon commissioned the beautiful blue and yellow stained-glass skylight above the sink so that he’d always have the colors of the sun and sea onboard. The master stateroom’s design is completely different than its initial simple layout, with the bed up one step and art niches to each side, plus two separate head compartments and a wardrobe that’s more like a hallway. And various rooms contain examples of Folon’s sculptures and watercolors—including a drawing of the yacht dating from April 1930, to which he added bright hues.
The management and workforce of Mondomarine consider Over the Rainbow to be the most important and prestigious refit project the yard has completed to date, and Folon feels no less affection for his new floating home, just as he admits he got all choked up when the yacht was christened. Diego Deprati, the yard’s managing director, presented him with a wooden replica of the boat, created in Brittany, as a gift from each of the craftsmen who worked on the restoration. It was engraved with the following heartfelt dedication: “To the master and friend Jean-Michel Folon, with Mondomarine’s deep gratitude for his precious help in giving Over the Rainbow a second life and bringing back her dignity as a masterpiece.”
Speaking of Over the Rainbow, why did Folon choose that name? His explanation is as simple and pure as the name itself: “I was sitting in a cafe in Paris and thinking about what to call the yacht of my dreams. At one point from a radio I heard the beautiful voice of Judy Garland, singing ‘(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow,’ like in the film The Wizard of Oz. ‘This is the name,’ it said to me.”
Dorothy may have had to see in her mind’s eye what she once heard in a lullaby, but for Folon and his Rainbow, the skies really are blue, and the dream he dared to dream really did come true.
Mondomarine ( (39) 019828516. www.mondomarine.it.
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.