Barnett Botha story
Barnett Botha was a Technical Manager at Specialised Mouldings, Nairobi from 1974 to 1980. This is his story about Samantha-39.

Samantha 39


I was delighted to stumble across your very informative web-site of the Samantha 39. It was great to learn that most of the Samantha 39’s have crossed the oceans around the world and to read about their voyages and current whereabouts around the globe.

The Samantha 39 was designed by a London based Naval Architect, Robert Tucker, and built by Specialised Mouldings (K) Limited, with owner Milan Vesely at the helm. It looked very nice on paper, but ultimately had to be built. I am Barnett Botha, the man who was given the task by Milan. I rose to the challenge and brought the Samantha 39 to life. I was a Technical Manager at Specialised Mouldings from 1974 to 1980 but this was undoubtedly the job, which has given me the greatest satisfaction and some of the most memorable days of my working career.


I recall spending hours on the drawing board to transpose Robert Tuckers’ rather small drawings into full size working plans on the factory floor. I guided a handful of local craftsmen through the process of making the wooden frames to form the hull and deck “plugs” and all the way through to finishing the fibreglass moulds. I have photos of this work in my portfolio and often look at them as a reminder of a very exciting period in my life. With a small team of carpenters and laminators, I managed to complete this development alongside another ambitious project, a 45ft. motor cruiser designed by Bruce Roberts.

I am in two photos on your current web-site; firstly, I am the person with my arm in the air holding a rope to steady a swaying boat (later named “de mi Manera”) while we manoeuvred it into a cradle having just lifted her from the mould. The other photo is when I (wearing sunglasses) was at the helm of “de mi Manera” returning into Kilindini Harbour, Mombasa having taken her out on the initial sea trial. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and had the pleasure of being the first person to sail a Samantha 39 in open water.

We started building the Samantha 39’s with the traditional style of interior furnishings but later decided to make a one-piece fibreglass moulded interior to strengthen the hull and reduce production time. This change became the Samantha 39 mark II version which also had a new deck configuration, especially the aft deck, mounting positions for all deck fittings and a more practical stern locker. I also changed the hull mould to fit a skeg-hung rudder for the mark II.


We exhibited a yacht (similar to “Alligande”) at both the Southampton and Hamburg Boat Shows which marked the climax of this exciting development. I have photos of the “Samantha 39 Show Boat” in its berth at the Southampton Boat Show in my portfolio as a reminder of this great era which was without doubt the pinnacle of the Company’s achievements.
Southampton Boat Show, September 1977.

I can safely say with great pride that I put my stamp on Specialised Mouldings’ developments during that time. However, a lot of the credit must go to the local workforce who skilfully made all these products without any prior knowledge of what they were building. I always remember this quote by Indira Gandhi, “My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there”.


When the factory was eventually closed in the early eighties, there were four yachts partially completed for local buyers which were taken to a site on the outskirts of Nairobi for completion and which I note are not featured on your web-site. Also, there was a Samantha 39 “shell” which was to be completed and fitted out by the owner at his Kilifi Creek Boatyard. I think there were sixteen boats that were finally completed.


I am now a Marina Manager for many years in the UK and I somehow believe that a Samantha 39 will sail into the Marina one day and grace my presence.

Barnett Botha,  May 2011