Toby Allies, Managing Director of Pendennis, guides SuperyachtNews through this landmark of British superyacht manufacturing and refitting…
To visit Pendennis has been on the list since I moved to the UK and started working for the Superyacht Group, in early 2019. Admittedly, I vastly underestimated how long it takes to cross the south coast of the UK to the westernmost tip of the Cornish Peninsula. Fortunately, the flight, as I learned, is spectacular. SuperyachtNews was invited in July 2022 to tour the shipyard, learn the history and anticipate the exciting developments at Pendennis, as it prepares to celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2023.
Pendennis is at the heart of an area steeped in maritime tradition, our guide for the day, Toby Allies, General Manager, begins with a quick history lesson. “Pendennis is actually the name of this peninsula, and the maritime history here goes back a long, long time. Ocean liners sailed from here to deliver letters around the world from the 1600s through the 19th century. We had the Class J regattas here in the 1920s and 1930s. You may have also seen the work boats in the harbor, harvesting oysters in season and racing in between. Said Allies.
This history is evident in the buildings that make up the courtyard. A converted rope shop houses plenty of training facilities and the ‘Yacht Club’ that welcomes you dates back to the late 1800s. Since opening in 1988, with an eye on Britain’s America’s Cup bid – Blue Arrow – Pendennis has grown considerably. Milestones such as the launch of its apprenticeship program in 1998; the launch of its first bespoke motor yacht, the 45m displacement yacht Ilona in 1999, the opening of offices in Palma, the investment in the Villanova refit center and finally the installation of its 800 t travel lift in 2019, bear witness to this development.
The scope of work that Pendennis undertakes has become equally broad. I may have been guilty in the past of thinking of Pendennis as just a ‘refit’ facility. Although it undertakes many specialist renovations, its new building heritage dates back to its founding. The term refit as a general term is also too broad. As Allies told me, “what do you mean by refit? We have ongoing projects where we have brought a vessel back to the keel. These projects will be committed here for multi-year programs. Others can only come for a quick repaint in the sheds. The industry should be clear what we mean by refit.
Inside one of the hangars that were between the projects is a ring of shipping containers. This, Allies explains, is the basis of almost every project undertaken at Pendennis. “The way we work on projects, whether it’s new build, refit or rebuild, is that we set up a container base that we can sit a ship on. This gives excellent access to the hull, as well as a reduction in the amount of scaffolding. Each of these containers is also fully accessible and can be its own project-specific storage or workspace. »
Pendennis has a long history of completely rebuilding many classic yachts. Two of these projects were in progress during our tour. Although the details of the reconstructions and the specifics of the ship are not ready to be made public, the scale of the work was impressive. These are the types of projects that we believe can only be undertaken with an equally deep skill set and experience within the team.
“One of our strengths is that we have a lot of control over the trades that we have internally,” explains Allies. “We don’t depend on who shouts the loudest for contracts. In a meeting with a customer, we are able to introduce people like our manufacturing manager and clearly define how we are going to proceed. »
As the industry struggles to find sustainable solutions, refitting and rebuilding the fleet is a vital part of the story. You might think the classic fleet is somehow immune to membership, but, as Allies explains, even owners of the oldest and grandest ships in the fleet approach Pendennis for refit solutions. sustainable and future-oriented.
“With some of the classic big projects, their engines can be nearly 100 years old, air start and some even capable of towing aircraft carriers! If the gearbox is the size of a small house, there are chances are it’s producing more power than it needs. Many of our owners are now asking us to find more innovative and sustainable ways to use power.”
Reconstruction of MY Marala
It’s hard not to notice the ubiquitous bright-eyed ‘red hats’ in the Pendennis Yard. These are the apprentices, at various stages of their four-year programs. With bright red helmets, they are an integral part of the Pendennis team, says Allies. As one of the county’s largest employers, these apprenticeships are in high demand and Pendennis takes pride in developing these skills.
It is, after all, the surest way to develop the required skill set and a wide range of trades that can support large-scale refits. Yet, as Allies explains, there is still a skills shortage in the UK. Actively promoting the maritime sector as an attractive career option remains a vital industry-wide initiative.
Red hard hats and PPE given to new apprentice at Pendennis
Speaking of the continued growth of the program, Allies points out: “We have taken over another site, and it is a place where we can develop the skills of our apprentices with smaller projects. Being able to give them an agency on a smaller ship with something like a paint job helps develop project management skills.
With another group of apprentices being introduced during our tour and around 70 under the programme, the next generation of the UK maritime industry is emerging. Building on this foundation, Pendennis is planning his 35th birthday. Allies assure me that there will soon be exciting projects on the water, and expect celebrations in all Pendennis facilities at the height of these emblematic ships.
Click here to become part of The Superyacht Group community and join us in our mission to make this industry accessible to all and prosperous for the long term. We offer access to the superyacht industry’s most comprehensive and longest-running archives of critical information, as well as a comprehensive, real-time database of the superyacht fleet, for just £10 a month , because we are an industry with a mission. Register here.