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Restoration work begins on classic yacht El Primero

Work is beginning to restore classic superyacht El Primero, first launched in 1893.

As the first steel steam/crew yacht, 41m El Primero holds an important place in the history of superyacht building, and is now due to be restored.

Richard Hildahl, a retired analyst and enthusiast of El Primero, has been documenting her history for the Tacoma Historical Society. He commented, “The big effort underway now is to do a full and detailed feasibility study to restore the boat to its original state.”

The Tacoma Historical Society is helping to preserve the vessel, along with her current owner and steward, Christian Lint, an aerospace engineer and tugboat captain.

A key priority for her restoration is to preserve as many original features as possible, including the English pecan wood on her hatches. However, some on board design features have fared better than others over the years, including her carved woodwork cabinetry. She is able to accommodate 12 guests on board, and reach a top speed of 12 knots.

The hull of El Primero was originally recoated last year, and a decision is currently ongoing as to whether to convert her back to steam power. However, as Hildahl explained, the decision is one which has both “technological and legal issues.”

He also added, “I have had the pleasure to go on several cruises on El Primero. It’s kind of a marine architect’s dream. If you want to go fast, make it long, make it narrow, make it shallow and put a cutter bow on it, and just on a tiny bit of power, you can get to 15 knots and it’s the smoothest it can be.” 

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