When you get on board Shenandoah of Sark, you follow in the footsteps of kings, queens, high-level aristocrats, a handful of smugglers, and 007 himself. To get an idea of its historical past, Katia Damborski the meeting in Sardinia…
“We were anchored off a luxury hotel in Bora Bora and the concierge came up to me and said, ‘We have a guest staying at the hotel and he spotted your boat. Would it be possible for him to come and take a look?”, recalls Russell Potter, captain of the 55 meters Shenandoah of Sark. “I said, ‘You’ll have to tell me who it is,’ and they agreed. It was pretty surreal, picking up James Bond from an exclusive hotel and taking him aboard for a cocktail.
Shenandoah captures the spirit of the golden age of yachting. It is currently for sale and for rent at Burgess.
Hollywood heavyweights may seem surreal, but getting noticed is the norm for Shenandoah. After all, when you’re a three-masted wooden schooner with a 13-meter bowsprit and 2,646 square meters of billowing white sails, you’re bound to turn heads. Example: we are sailing Shenandoah in Sardinia, a veritable playground for gleaming gigayachts, and Shenandoah always seems to get the most attention.
“She will always be one of the most photographed and glamorous boats wherever we go,” Potter says, smiling as guests of a passing superyacht reach out their phones to capture Shenandoah In progress.
She has competed in countless regattas over the years
It’s not just her towering stature that makes her such an eye-catcher either; her sailing performance is a force to be reckoned with. We leave Porto Rotondo at a leisurely pace, watching the crew unleash their sails and busily stow loose items in cupboards. I watch from the cockpit, sipping an espresso and thinking about laying down on a deckchair to enjoy the sailing experience. I need to dry off – we spent the morning scooting around on SeaBobs and trying to balance ourselves on an eFoil (there’s also snorkel gear, dinghies and kayaks).
The second the sails go up, I realize that the deckchair is out of the question; Shenandoah has gone from a breezy, sunny cruiser to a supercharged sailboat, rich in power and as graceful as a stallion as it slices through the water. “I don’t think anyone could buy this boat if they weren’t a keen sailor,” Potter says, oscillating between watching the yacht’s steep heel and the horizon.
Much of her crew remained on board for several years
A crew of 12 operates her day to day, but during regattas she can be flown by a crew of 30. Watching them trim and trim the sails in effortless synchrony is like watching an orchestra in full symphony, and I begin to understand why Potter says the crew is one of the yacht’s best assets.
It’s a tight-knit group, and everyone seems to have a permanent smile and warm manners. Maybe that’s what it’s like to call Shendoah home for so long; some crew members have been on board for nearly thirty years, and Potter himself has been on board for nearly fifteen years.
Splendid service is matched by impeccable cuisine, with highlights like buttery tenderloin of beef, zesty homemade sourdough and velvety peach cheesecake served with white chocolate ice cream. Creating dishes of this caliber is no mean feat, especially when you consider how cramped the kitchen space is.
The cockpit offers shelter and shade
Shenandoah can comfortably accommodate 10 guests in four cabins, with a flexible layout that allows for additional berths if required. The interior has retained a traditional nautical theme, with lots of crisp whites offset by lacquered wood and a baby Steinway that takes pride of place in the main salon.
Rich oil paintings and detailed sketches are everywhere, alongside thick walls of books on travel and art. In the parental suite, one of these walls opens up, a bit like a scene from scooby-doo, to reveal a secret passage to the captain’s cabin. It’s a vintage touch that nods to its colorful history.
Read more/Iconic yachts: aboard the classic 120-year-old schooner Shenandoah of Sark
A baby Steinway figure in the living room
Shenandoah of Sark first entered the water in 1902 at New York’s Townsend & Downey shipyard, and its life has been one of ups and downs ever since. The highs include appearances in Vogue photoshoots, Rod Stewart music videos and (one rumor) at Grace Kelly’s wedding, while the lows include notorious smuggling activities and narrowly avoiding the clutches of the salvage yard at more of an occasion.
It wasn’t always easy, but she managed to bounce back every time. Now it is offered for sale and charter with Burgess. She will be sailing mainly in the Mediterranean this summer – although her new owner will be able to take her “pretty much anywhere”, according to Potter. No stranger to roads less travelled, Shenandoah meandered through the fjords of Norway, bounced between the bays of Madagascar and braved the remote shores of South Georgia.
A classic interior enhances its traditional beauty
Indeed, it was in South Georgia that she participated in the rescue of a bathtub that belonged to the legendary Arctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. “He was stuck in a disused whaling station in another fjord,” Potter recalls. “We managed to get the tub into the tender and then hoist it up to the aft deck.” After a few photo ops with the historic tub, they sailed to Grytviken, where it was donated to a local museum.
Shenandoah traveled around the world
It’s part of the beauty of Shenandoah. Captain Potter could entertain us for hours with tales of James Bond, bathtubs and the rescue of a stricken boat that had been adrift off the coast of Indonesia for ten days – but there is a whole century of stories captured in these teak decks and pine masts. It’s a floating piece of maritime history, and she’s currently on the hunt for a new caretaker to enjoy the next chapter of her life with.
Shenandoah of Sark is available for sale and rental via Bourgeoiswith a weekly rental rate from €110,000 and an asking price of €9,900,000 with VAT paid.