Classic Superyacht Shemara to be Rebuilt for Charles Dunstone

Image: BYM News
Shemara the 65 metre superyacht so beloved by Lord and Lady Docker in the 1960s has been rescued from decay and is to be completely rebuilt in Britain by British Businessman Charles Dunstone.
Shemara, was built in by Thorneycroft in Southampton and launched from there in 1938.
In 1943 while working as an anti submarine training ship with the Royal Navy she used her sonar to locate HMS Untamed a missing submarine that had been lost with all hands.
Shemara became famous in the 1950s for the many lavish parties hosted by Lord and Lady Docker who then owned her.  The gracelessly gaudy pair entertained the nation, through the pages of the tabloid newspapers, with a succession of fancy cars, mink coats and champagne receptions on board the yacht.
In 1954 the nations eyebrows were raised when 45 Yorkshire miners were invited to Southampton for a cocktail party on board Shemara. “We had a riotous day,” said Lady Docker at the time.
In 1965 Shemara was put up for sale for £600,000. After a great deal of legal wrangling, the superyacht passed to the ownership of reclusive property tycoon Harry Hyams of Oldham Estates for £290,000.
He left her sitting in Lowestoft for twenty or so years where, according to rumour, crew prepared lunch for Hyams each day just in case he arrived, which he never did.
The yacht was refitted last in 1992 and in the past year was sold to Charles Dunstone who founded Carphone Warehouse.  Dunstone is an avid sailor who enjoys racing sailing yachts and Shemara would make a fitting mothership for him to attend and race in superyacht sailing regattas around the world.
Shemara has now arrived in Portchester for a complete rebuild that could cost millions of pounds.  Ironically the firm that has won the contract to rebuild her is Testbank, an organisation based at Trafalgar Wharf, a site once occupied by the Vosper Thorneycroft Group whose being emerged from the same firm that originally built the yacht
Talking about her refit and what it might be worth to the area Andy Green, a superyacht broker at the Trafalgar Wharf boatyard, told journalists at The News in Portsmouth,  “A number of seven-figure agreements are there for the taking – to strip the yacht down, re-do her décor and repair her clapped-out engines.”


    1. She is being refiited opposite where i work at Trafager Wharf see her everymorning looks like a massive project but is coming along very well

    2. Hi I’ve heard that the bow is 58mm out ? Also that numerous welds have failed tests due to using cheap foreign labour.Also is it true that the fire doors don’t shut properly due to the yacht being out of line.These are just a few rumours that have being flying around regarding this major build…will it ever even make the water lol ?????

    3. she left Trafalgar wharf around a week ago apparently has gone to Southampton for final fit out very quiet down here now she has gone

    4. Such an amazing project, watching the yacht transform to its full glory.It has been so exciting especially as the project was completed by such a small company “Burgess Marine” .Ray cutts is in charge of the complete refit all though he has chosen to use cheaper polish labour he has seen the refit right through from beginning to end, which must be a huge achievement as it wasn’t long ago he was a back street mechanic.
      Its very exciting times .to see this beautiful creation enter the sea once again.No launch date has been given yet due to so many structual problems! But rumour has it October November time is looking probable. ..Cant wait 🙂

    5. The project was not run by Burgess Marine! They supplied polish labour and Shemara guys had to manage them and try and fix all their bits.

  1. We are sorry that there is what maybe an incorrect fact and assumptions in this story and we will be happy to correct them if readers tell us what they are.

    Good superyacht stories will always get out into the open particularly when they are of interest and it is my experience that it is better to get the facts published correctly by responsible journalists in a controlled way rather than allow tabloid speculation to run rife.

  2. I was born in Lowestoft in the mid-1980s and left in 2004 to attend university, but I remember this yacht extremely well. Whenever I passed her on the north bank of Lake Lothing, whether it was walking by or on the train, I always wondered what this lovely yacht was. She always seemed to be a forgotten ghost; no-one paid any attention to her.

    I visit Lowestoft a few times a year as my family still live there, and seeing her as I went by on the train always meant that I was nearly home. However, upon coming back to Lowestoft 6 weeks ago for the first time in many months I was shocked to see her gone, and I have been searching all this evening to find her name and what has happened to her. It is delightful not only to know that she survives and to pastures new, but that she has an interesting history. I shall try to watch her with great interest and enthusiasm.

  3. This comment was received by e mail by the authors:
    As a regular guest on board Shemara I applaud Charles Dunston for his recognition of a fine Thorneycroft ship well made and designed. I know until she was sold to Hyams, Shemara was maintained to the highest order of seaworthiness. I have no doubt that Charles Dunston will spare no expense to rebuild her and to enjoy this nostalgic ship, originally built for Sir Bernard Docker, whose wife Norah created notoriety wherever they sailed. I sailed on her masters last voyage from the pool of London to St Helier, after being sold to Hyams, there we were, all on the bridge with the Captain and the Thames Pilot edging into mid river dwarfed by ‘Belfast’and past a smaller yacht chartered by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It was a teary moving experience as Tower Bridge lifted for her to pass, her siren echoing farewell through the empty warehouses standing undeveloped there at that time. I would be overjoyed to see the new Shemara sail once again and who knows maybe return to The pool of London with her proud new master.

    1. What a lovely time I have had reading stories of Shemara where I was leading Seaman and launchman from 1969-70, I remember the event described above as I was onboard for the voyage to St Helier. Interesting that Elizabeth and Richard Burton actually came onboard as they were thinking of buying Shemara at the time. I have some wonderful stories to share with Mr Dunstone from those days. Delighted to see that she is back near my hometown Southampton, I will have to look her up. John Murphy. Contact via son in law Richard:

  4. hi just to say i have been onboard few times at lowestoft as my father in law was friends with captain and first engineer he was on the virginia owned by the courthaulds family hope this restoration happens best of luck

  5. My Grandad worked onboard Shemara when she was owned by Lord and Lady Docker. I think I may pop along to Porchester and have a look.

    1. Maybe you are my cousin! or related to family friend. My grandfather worked on Shemara when she was owned by Lord & Lady Docker. Small world. I only just heard that she was still around and being refitted for Charles Dunstone. I have just looked up some old photos from back then when she was looking better.

  6. I used to work on the Shemara in 2004 for Harry Hyams in Lowestoft. Working with Captain Shaw. Im from southampton and spent most of my time on Harry’s other yacht in Hamble. I would love to see how she has changed if anybody has any photographs? Also to talk to anybody else who worked onboard.

  7. Anybody know who I can contact to possibly work on this please? Currently a shipwright boatbuilder working on luxury super yachts in Southampton but fancy a change.


  8. Hello My name is Rene Tourtel Mc-Mahon. Im the daughter of Hector Tourel, The Captain of Shamara from 1938-1956. Im delighted she will have a new future and Im following her progress on a regular basis and look forward to seeing her Rene to her former beauty.

  9. Fascinating history, lived in southampton for many years and avid fan of all seafairing stories. As born in 1954, any chance for a few minions to enjoy!!! KT

  10. Interesting to read all the stories and anecdotes about MY Shemara. I was a catering student working my passage back to Southampton from Malta in 1968 as a steward to Robert Maxwell and his family who had chartered the yacht from the Docker’s for a holiday in the Med. Whilst in the Bosphorous word came that Russia had invaded Czechoslovakia. Maxwell, a Chec by birth, was understanably quite keen to get out of Russian territorial waters as soon as possible!

  11. I too think the Shemara was a lovely ship, superb lines. One couldn’t help admiring her. I used to live in Winchester & worked in Southampton & last saw this ship moored at Ocean Village but was several years ago. I used to go out with one of the crew James Oldfield from Winchester. Does anyone know where he is now? I am sure he could tell some stories about this ship I now live in Dersingham, Norfolk.

  12. My name is Harold Moorman I am 82 and served on Shamara from 1947 to 1952 love to hear from anyone involved around that time The re launch is next year I live close in Southampton to where the refit is taking place please phone me 02380431535

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