THE HISTORY OF MOTOR YACHT BEBE GRANDE
Motor Yacht Bebe Grande, an icon vessel in South Africa waters has a rich history derived from its design, build and outfitting in the United Kingdom of England in the late 1950’s.
The build history reflects upon the best of British shipbuilding technology and craftsmanship that represented their leading capabilities in small craft construction in the world at that time.
MY Bebe Grande owes its existence today in 2021 to the fact that it was professionally designed, built and outfitted to the highest maritime standards of the day. The quality of materials used and equipment installed have served well over the last 60 years and given reason to consider the restoration of this vessel.
MY Bebe Grande was commissioned and built for a South African businessman and race horse owner Mr Jack Gerber. In honour of the successful race horse “Bebe Grande” which came 2nd in the 1952 “2000 Guineas Race” in the UK, that MY Bebe Grande derived her name.
The vessel was designed by Dr Corlett of Burness Corlett and Partners in early 1950’s. This design was derived from a mould that was modified by Commander Thornycroft of Vosper Thornycroft origins.
At the time MY Bebe Grande was the largest moulded glass fibre hull built in the world. The hull design is based upon a fast displacement hull form, coupled with its fibre glass hull and light alloy materials used for engine beds created a light weight craft in the order of 20 tons displacement, which comfortably cruises at 16 knots and can reach 19 knots.
The vessel was designed for sports fishing in South African waters off Cape Point in the notorious Cape of Storms region.
The glass fibre hull with strengthening ribs and stringers encased in the fibre glass was built by Halmatic Ltd of Portsmouth using “Deborine” moulded glass fibre. The Halmatic yard was highly regarded and produced many hulls for clients that would have the outfitting done elsewhere.
The hull of MY Bebe Grande was then shipped to Tough Bros. of Teddington in London for outfitting.
Bob Tough, the founder, was a sixth generation boat builder based on the Thames River at Teddington. This yard was also commissioned to build the Queen of England’s official Royal Barge the Royal Nore and the motor vessel Havengore. Both these vessels bear a remarkable resemblance to MY Bebe Grande and are still operational today and are frequently used for Royal and State travels on the Thames River during ceremonial functions.
The hull is of the fast displacement type with a strake run and a skeg or keel for directional stability. Powered by two Rolls Royce C6.SFLM marine diesel motors, each rated at 250 horse power at 2,100 rpm.
These engines were specifically chosen for their dry oil sump design, very suited to the marine environment giving a low centre of gravity inside the hull, thereby increasing the vessels stability in rough waters. The renowned quality and reliability of Rolls Royce has served MY Bebe Grande well to this day.
At the time of construction this vessel was also fitted with an auto-pilot and fish finding echo sounder which although found in fishing fleets at the time, in her case this was the first recreational yacht to be fitted with such equipment. These technological features added to the ground breaking history associated with the build of this fine craft.
MY Bebe Grande has over the years successfully participated in many South African offshore fishing competitions for yellowfin tuna and marlin and was the grandest vessel in the South African Marlin and Tuna Club fleet based out of Simon’s Town.
This vessel has also officiated in many yachting regattas and yacht races as the Start Boat carrying dignitaries and Club Commodores to the start line.
Yachtport SA, a dedicated luxury yacht repair facility with expertise in such works and having worked on many craft in its facilities over the last 10 years, is pleased to be engaged to provide the services to restore this grand lady to her former glory.