March / April 2020

Welcome Back, JENETTA

A classic Mylne 12-Meter, raised and rebuilt
The 12-Meter-class sloop JENETTA

The 12-Meter-class sloop JENETTA was raised from the bottom of Pitt Lake in Canada in 2009, and has been recently rebuilt by Robbe & Berking Classics of Flensburg, Germany. As Robbe & Berking proprietor Oliver Berking says lightheartedly, “She is 63 percent original by weight, thanks to the 17 tons of lead in her keel.”

On November 11, 2009, the hulk of the 12-Meter-class sloop JENETTA was raised to the surface of Pitt Lake in British Columbia. The yacht had recently succumbed to years of neglect and sunk at her mooring. This might have been the end of her, save for the efforts of the German shipyard owner and silversmith Oliver Berking.

Berking (see WB No. 258) has long had a love affair with Meter yachts. The day after JENETTA’s sinking, he “rang the Canadian owner” from his home in Flensburg, Germany. “We agreed a price. Then I had to speak to the International 12-Meter Association. There wasn’t much original material left…would they accept her as an original?” The answer was positive and, without hesitation, Berking proceeded with the purchase.

The salvage operation was rough on the boat’s fragile remains; when laid on her side on the barge, she broke into three pieces. The lead ballast keel and a few chunks of not-so-rotten planks and frames were shipped to Germany in a container and piled in a heap in a corner of Berking’s shipyard, where they remained for seven years. I asked him about the pile of tinder during a 2017 visit, and he forbade me to photograph it. At the time he was still waiting for an owner to invest in the rebuild project, and wanted no dispiriting photograph to get out.

Now, after an intensive 18-month rebuilding that cost a reported €1.5 million (about $1.65 million) and 20,000 man-hours, the boat is probably stronger than she ever was. She has four co-owners, including Berking, who became a silent partner in order to get the project going. “I sold only part of the boat,” he told me as we watched JENETTA racing again for the first time in about 60 years. “But it was so big that I said, ‘Look, we just have to start.’”

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