An update on Chauncy Maples

To celebrate its 125th anniversary  

Thomas Miller became the lead sponsor of the Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust, a UK charity which is renovating the 19th century ship Chauncy Maples as a clinic to provide essential medical services to the lakeside people of Malawi. After raising over a million pounds for the charity work has been continuing in earnest on the project.

In November 2010 Malawi's ferry and other shipping interests were privatised and taken over by Mota-Engil, a large Portuguese infrastructure company, which formed Malawi Shipping Company to own and manage the business. As a result the Chauncy Maples project was restructured, with Mota-Engil joining Thomas Miller as a co-sponsor. Mota Engil has agreed that in return for contracts to renovate and thereafter manage the ship, it will donate EUR 2,000,000 towards the first 10 years' running costs, thus answering one of the main concerns of donors - namely how the ship will be sustained in the long term.

In May Chauncy was stripped of her old equipment (photo 2) and in July under the supervision of the Trust's project manager, marine engineer Ross Girdler (photo 3) she entered the dry-dock (photo 4).

During the next three months her superstructure was removed and the hull plating repaired. Most of the original superstructure had been removed and replaced in 1965. Further additions were made during the 1980's. The extra weight was the main reason for her near capsize and subsequent retirement in 1992. It is extraordinary how well the plates and frames have survived for 110 years.

When she left the dry-dock her original elegant lines became apparent

(photo 5)

. She was towed to a nearby quay where she has remained until Friday 9


December. Chauncy was positioned horizontally onto four of the five cradles and pulled sideways to the top of the slipway.

(photo 6)

The pull was supervised by Ross and Captain Lammick

(photo 7)

one of the shipyard supervisors. She had to be precisely chocked and then evenly pulled by four winches to avoid bending her shape. In January timber blocks will be placed under her and the cradles will be removed so that the slipways below her can continue to be used. She will remain in this position until the renovations are complete probably late 2013.

Photo 8 shows what she will look line when complete. The new superstructure will be built of aluminium to reduce weight. The design has been done by world renowned superyacht designer,

Martin Francis

(co-designer with Philippe Starck of


the world's most avant-garde yacht. The detailed design work is being done by Durban based naval architects,

Naval Africa


To date we have raised over £1m both in cash and in kind, which should be enough to cover the construction costs and project management.. We are now embarking on another fundraising campaign for the second £1 million to cover the costs of the parts.

More information on Chauncy Maples can be found on the Thomas Miller website (click the award image to the right to visit the site) Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Staff Author