Special Report: Haida G celebrates her 80th year
The 71.1m Haida G, originally Haida, was built at Krupp Germania Werft in Kiel in 1929 for millionaire yeast producer Max C. Fleischmann (1877-1952) following plans drafted by the New York naval architects Cox and Stevens and today, 80 years after her launch, she still graces the ocean with her unique style following an impeccable restoration.
Haida, as she was then known, was constructed to be especially strong for long scientific, fishing, and pleasure cruises in the Pacific waters off the Californian coast. Using the latest technology of the time, the vessel was equipped with the twin diesel engines that still propel her to this day. Her fuel capacity of 150 tons allowed a range of nearly 8000 nautical miles enabling her to travel from San Francisco to Singapore non-stop.
After completion in 1929, and following a passage from Germany via New York and through the Panama Canal, her owner berthed Haida at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, California.
As with many of his yachts before and after, Max C. Fleischmann named his ship after the native tribe of Queen Charlotte Island whose seafaring skills he admired so much. Fleischmann, who had a reputation of being slightly eccentric, had the beautiful ship painted black.
After more than ten joyous years at sea, Haida found a new mission when Mr. Fleischmann sold the yacht to the US Navy in October 1940. The ship was completely refurbished and began a new duty as a naval vessel: the bowsprit was removed, radar was installed, and a 3.5” gun was mounted on the forecastle. Warren A. Cabral, who served on board the ship, recently said he could still remember how the exquisite wood panelling was roughly covered with grey paint.
Under the name USS Argus, identification number “PY14”, the yacht protected the coast in the Patrol Force of the 12th Naval District out of San Francisco. She was briefly lent to the United States Geodetic Survey, returning to the Navy after eight months. On October 29th, 1944 the Argus rescued the shipwrecked sailors from the Liberty vessel John A. Johnson, sunk in the Pacific by a submarine.
Argus was decommissioned in 1946 and purchased by a private owner who restored her to her former glory as a pleasure craft. Renamed Sarina, she was owned by the Egyptian cotton magnate Maurice Ada and spent a number of years in Alexandria. During a political disturbance, her owner moved the yacht to the South of France.
A happy new era began when, after a year in the hands of American industrialist Larry Green, she came into the ownership of British Member of Parliament, Loel Guinness in 1969. He kept Sarina for more than ten years and spared no expense to see that the yacht remained in excellent shape. In 1979 Guinness’ health forced him to sell the beautiful vessel to film producer Robert Stigwood. Stigwood redecorated the interior in an English country house style. Also around this time a false second funnel was mounted that characterized Sarina’s appearance for many years. The yacht was the centre of Stigwood’s social life, undertaking long voyages throughout Europe and the Caribbean.
In 1981 Sarina was sold yet again. Her new Greek owner renamed her Rosenkavalier, after the opera by Richard Strauss. In 1988 Rosenkavalier, like many other classic yachts at that time, was acquired by a Japanese owner. She made the journey to Yokusaka on her own keel, still driven by her original 1929 diesel engines. The ship remained with the Isaka family of Yokohama until 1992, when a Greek yachtsman, bought Rosenkavalier.
In 1999, a new owner acquired the vessel, enchanted by her heritage and striving to reconnect her with her origins, she was re-christened Haida G. The renovation began with a refit of the original main engines, which were completely disassembled and overhauled. The interior was entirely stripped and reusable parts carefully reinstalled. The naked hull was sandblasted, and 120 tons of steel replaced. Except for the lovingly restored main engines, the heart of the vessel, all aggregates were replaced and the ship was updated to the highest technical and safety specifications.
Today, under the command of Captain Julian Legg, Haida G provides all the comfort of a modern luxury yacht for up to 12 charter guests. Overhauled to MCA-standards and run under ISM management she is available to a distinguished circle of charter guests with her incomparable aura, intriguing history, and unique charm.