The Schooner "Sunshine" is the third 'sister' built to the design (no.468) drawn up by W. Fife Jun. in 1900. The first two, the original "Sunshine" and "Asthore", were built (1900 and 1902) by the Fifes at their yard in Fairlie. Both vessels changed names several times, Asthore even being called Sunshine for a long while (1906-1925).
The original Sunshine was built for a local gentleman, Glen F. McAndrew of Largs Castle, which is very close by the Fairlie yard. In 1906 she became, as "Maris Stellis" the proud possession of the Portuguese Royal family (until 1911). These schooners preceded the famous ones "Susanne" and "Cicely".
The latter, though much larger, and a racing schooner, bore an extremely close resemblance to "Sunshine".
Quoting from Yachting World, May 1901.
"Launch of the Schooner "Sunshine".
"She was designed by William Fife Jun. and while intended for a cruiser, she looks, with her long overhangs, small but powerful underwater body, strong and well turned bilge, and extremely roomy deck, every inch a modern racer. While Sunshine is not exactly like any boat ever designed by Mr. Fife, in the absence of a drawing it will give a pretty fair idea of her to say that she is an enlarged and improved edition of those pretty and speedy little schooners Helen and Geisha , which were built at Fairlie a few years ago. Sunshine is a very handsome boat and cannot fail to be a speedy one."
"Schooner Sunshine" is a two masted gaff rigged schooner. She measures 31m over the deck and has a beam of 5.6m and a draft of 3.4m Her total sail area is 5,296 square feet.
The hull and rig are exactly faithful to the original 1900 design.
The interior which is hand crafted from teak and rosewood has been compromised from the original layout to allow for the required modern safety standards, such as the 4 watertight bulkheads. The deck is laid down in long thick lengths of solid teak planks over the steel beams, and caulked with cotton in the traditional way. The masts and spars are all of Sitka Spruce and the standing rigging is of galvanized steel.
Her hull is Dutch marine grade A steel, and she has been built in Yangon under the strict supervision of a Lloyd's surveyor, to Lloyds SSC plan approval. Yangon (formerly Rangoon) was chosen for the build as the facility at Myanmar Shipyards is highly suited to the job. Building and handicraft techniques can still be found in Myanmar (formerly Burma) that are as close as one can find to the skills originally employed in the Scotland of the early 20 th century.
The construction began in late 1999. She was launched in 2003 and shifted to the fitting out berth. In October 2004 the Myanmar Shipyards officially handed her over at a gracious ceremony fit for a super tanker, and away she sailed, first destination Phuket, Thailand, but only after a maiden cruise through the spectacular uninhabited islands of the Miek Archipelago.
After some cruising in Thailand and Malaysia, she arrived on the Cote d'Azur in early June 2005 after a trip with stopovers in 13 different lands.
Although there are many survivors in the cutter category, few classic schooners still exist today, so it was thought appropriate in building a replica, that this should be borne in mind. Also the early 1900's was probably the time when sailing ships and yachts were at the height of their evolution, before steam and diesel engines and racing rating rules began to interfere with the purity of their original function and beauty. Looking into the future it is also likely that there will be a reduction in the numbers of original vessels in existence, due to the high and ever increasing costs of maintaining these few remaining original vessels.
The easier upkeep of a new and well-built replica should ensure, with good luck, her survival long into the future enabling the next generations a glimpse of a part of their maritime history, which might otherwise be lost.