Many years ago I found myself spending a summer holiday rebuilding an old wooden yacht in Brittany at a traditional boat building yard. It sounds romantic, but it was hard work, and although I got a nice tan and a good knowledge of boat building terms in France, I didn’t get to do much sailing (which is what I had been promised by the then boyfriend!).

So I was intrigued to meet local Phil Stafford one day in Quality Fruit, and hear about his labour of love restoring the 60ft motor yacht ‘La Falaise’ . She has been moored at Weybridge, opposite the Weybridge Mariners during the 4 years restoration project. Phil found her as a wreck and fell in love straight away, determined to bring her back to her former glory. She was originally built in 1923 for a rich Scottish businessman and has a teak hull. She was used in clandestine operations involving the SAS during WW2 but was caught and scuttled by the Nazis.

Recovered after the war by the Royal Navy she was used to ferry post and provisions between Edinburgh and the Shetland Isles for 15 years. She was bought at some point by the family of Alec Guinness so what heritage she has.

Phil has spent every day for the past 4 years lovingly restoring the vessel, installing a magnificent interior and furnishing cabins with superb craftsmanship. The saloon is like no other boat you will ever see, complete with a piano and art deco lights, features and artefacts, many which have stories to tell.

‘La Falaise’ sleeps two couples in en suite twin cabins which have been lovingly decorated and furnished.

Phil’s plan is to take the boat down to the south of France where she will be available for charter. This will be no ordinary charter. The professional crew will be serving gourmet cuisine accompanied by the finest Grand Cru wines France has to offer! The sample menus could come from one of the top Michelin starred London restaurants: warm chicken mousse quenelles, braised calves cheek, tempura of turbot, truffle studded ballotine of trout with sea urchin sabayon. And that is just a taste of the delights on offer! The service will hark back to a time of enchantment and style. Think Great Gatsby! So if you think you could do with a slice of that life the charter for a week will cost £10,000 for 4 guests.

The boat will be at the Classic Boat Festival at St Katherine’s Dock from 5th-10th September and if you book your cruise during that weekend Phil is offering a deal of 30% off that price. Compare that to an all inclusive buffet holiday and it sounds rather attractive indeed.
If you fancy stepping back in time and being treated like royalty contact Phil by email: lafalaise1923@hotmail.co.uk.