Tabua and Cantieri Navali di Sestri, the new life

Cantieri Navali di Sestri have restored Tabua, which was launched in 1975 as  a fishing boat and which has now been transformed into a luxury yacht with Matteo Picchio’s design

by Fabio Massimo Bonini

Challenges are now an everyday occurrence for the Cantieri Navali di Sestri. And these are challenges that the yard’s chairman Fulvio Montaldo likes to take on and win. The most recent of these has been the challenge to restore life, in just five months, to a former fishing boat, which reached the shipyard in a state of complete abandonment, so that it could set off for a summer’s cruise having been transformed into a luxurious yacht.

The story begins in Portugal, in 1975, with the launch of a fishing boat. The hull was made in iroko planking, with a strong frame so that it could tackle the waves of the Atlantic Ocean during long fishing trips. After years of honourable service, the boat was abandoned and left without any maintenance for nine years. In the first months of 2021, it got a new owner who decided to restore and customise it, turning it into a luxurious yacht for his family and him.

As well as changing the interiors, a lot of decayed parts of the hull have been replaced as well as sections of planking.

And so, he entrusted the restoration work to Cantieri Navali di Sestri, who have become a point of reference in Liguria for this kind of work, and the design and management of the work were entrusted to the studio of the architect Matteo Picchio.

The list of things that needed doing was very long, but the yard and the architect were determined to let their client spend the summer on the boat. As well as changing around the interiors, many decayed areas of the hull were redone, with parts of the planking replaced, as were some of the water intakes. The stabilisation system was repaired, the decayed parts of the top-gallant bulwarks were rebuilt, with planking replaced and one of the large mooring bollards rebuilt in iroko.


Founded in the mid-1950s mainly for the breaking up and maintenance of barges and tugs, the Cantieri Navali di Sestri began a shift to yachting towards the end of the 1980s when Fulvio Montaldo took charge. Tradition and technology now come together at the firm, with the ancient skills of craftsmen like shipwrights existing alongside a modern-day process of design and construction. The structure covers 13,000 square meters, which is used as warehouses, workshops, parking areas, offices, warehouses, and large open spaces. They have around 150 moorings, spread around two floating docks and a quay, which can take boats of up to forty meters. The yard can move and haul out boats of up to 400 tonnes, with a draught of 4.10 meters and a draught of up to nine meters. It is also strategically located in terms of accessibility and comfort, there is an outlet to the sea that is protected from the vagaries of the weather – to such an extent that its internal waters are considered amongst the safest of the entire Gulf of Genoa. Cantieri Navali di Sestri has developed real expertise in converting working boats into motor yachts and boasts significant experience with many sizeable projects.

Work was done on the crankshafts, and several repairs were done to the engines and the generator set. The entire onboard hydraulics were renovated, the water pumps, boilers, and desalination units had to be replaced, and the electrical system and transfer pumps were serviced. The diesel unit was also rebuilt, and the pumps were checked. The fuel tanks were cleaned, and the blackwater tank and associated equipment were replaced. The air conditioning unit was renovated, while the batteries and rechargers for the electrical system were changed.


Tabua is a boat that has been restored so that one can enjoy the sea safely with all the charm of a period yacht.

The work entrusted to the yard’s expert shipwrights involved sanding and polishing to bring all the copal parts of the decks and the bulwark back to wood, which was then varnished. The two masts from the gangway and the grand staircase were also restored. The crowning for the awning which covers a good amount of the flybridge was built from scratch. And finally, the main and fly decks have been completely remade in teak. In the end, the abandoned fishing boat has become Tabua, a splendid wooden navetta boat, which will continue to sail for many years, to the delight of its owner and his family.

(Tabua and Cantieri Navali di Sestri, the new life – – April 2022)