November 6th 2013. By Zuzana Prochazka.

Elise of London: Schooner Restoration

This William Fife gaff-rigged schooner is ready for her next life.

Elise of London was designed by the renowned William Fife III in the United Kingdom in 1911, More than a century later in 2010, she sank at her mooring in France. Down but not out, the gaff-rigged schooner was raised and transported back to the United Kingdom where she awaits a new owner and a new incarnation.

Elise of London under sail

Elise of London is a Fife schooner originally built in 1910.

Elise was built on the Clyde and launched as Fife design #601. She is a 63-foot yacht (plus another 10 feet of sprit) with a full keel and long, graceful overhangs. She was originally built of pitch pine and mahogany planking on steam-bent oak frames, with copper and bronze fastenings. Her decks are one inch marine plywood sheathed with glass cloth and epoxy resin. She has had many owners and many names over the last century, and plied the water all around the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. In 1992, she was put into a yard by her new owners, Ted and Bridget Meredith, to undergo a complete restoration. The Merediths’ intent was to rebuild her (they even bought half share in the boatyard to ensure it would be done) and put her out as both a family cruising yacht and as a charter operation.

As boat restorations go, Elise was no exception to the rule of mission creep. The removal of the interior led to the discovery of suspect deck beams, which in turn led to the replacement of the entire deck. The stem was rotted and a whole new section was added. Nonetheless, four years later, Elise emerged and was re-launched to carry six guests and two crew members.

Over many years, she generated enough charter revenues to pay for herself while providing the family a notable cruising platform as they visited France, Scotland, the Med and the Caribbean. Her accident occurred when a cockpit seacock failed in Dournanez Bay in northwestern France. She was raised, brought back to the United Kingdom, and has since been ensconced in a custom shed, awaiting her next rebuild.

The good news is that much of her structure did not suffer too much due to the sinking. However, her interior woodwork needs significant restoration and the electronics, engine, and all interior cushions and soft accessories need replacement. One look at her classic lines and it would be clear to any maritime history buff that Elise is a worthy project boat and with the right owner, can be regal once more.

Editor’s Note: Elise of London has sold. To find a similar boat, search the YachtWorld Fife schooner listings. 



Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.