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Cockwells Restores Dunkirk Little Ship, Fleury II

With a global reputation for creating award-winning custom builds – from luxury superyacht tenders to classic motor launches – Cockwells Modern & Classic Boatbuilding also relishes the challenge that the restoration of an historic vessel presents.

Fleury II – a Dunkirk Little Ship with a glassed deck that was leaking and a rotting deck beneath – was delivered to Cockwells’ Mylor Creek Boatyard in autumn 2018 for much needed structural repairs.

Built in Christchurch, Dorset in 1936, the motor yacht, Fleury II was designed by Eric French of Poole. She was named by her original owners, the Fleurets.

The Little Ships of Dunkirk sailed from Ramsgate in Kent to Northern France between 26 May and 4 June 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo. These ships helped to rescue more than 336,000 British, French, and other Allied soldiers who were trapped on Dunkirk’s beaches during the Second World War so Fleury II had seen more than her share of active service.

Combining the artisan traditions of the shipwright with modern technology, Cockwells’ skilled craftsmen and technicians have now restored Fleury II to her former glory.

This fusion of the traditional with the innovative allows for a more flexible and practical approach to restoration as shipwright, Mark Curnow, explains: “Originally, solid strips of thicker wood would have been used in the deck’s construction and steamed in but today, we can laminate thinner strips, in situ, to repair hard-to-reach areas. We have also maintained the aesthetics of the deck but have gained durability by using marine ply and a layer of fibreglass/epoxy where, traditionally, wooden boards covered with painted canvas would have been used. One of the highlights of Fleury II is that her original keel is intact and her backbone can be seen in its original state. This is a tribute to the fine craftsmen who built her, who we are proud to follow today.”

The deck fittings, stanchions and one of the aft-cabin sides have also been replaced; the wheelhouse and skylight have been repaired and the windlass has been overhauled, whilst the interior has been painted to lighten the space and the exterior has been stripped and re-varnished.

“Another rewarding part of this project has been the new owner’s eagerness to respect the history of this vessel whilst making sure that she can be fully enjoyed during the next chapter of her life,” explains Restoration Project Manager, Holly Latham. “The traditional feel of the boat has been enhanced with modern engines and electrical systems, a new galley and period light fittings powered by low energy LED. These practical changes have been introduced sensitively and are hidden, where possible, so as to complement Fleury II’s heritage and ensure her survival for decades to come.”

“At Cockwells Modern & Classic Boatbuilding, we take great pride in delivering the highest levels of craftsmanship, whether we are designing an exquisite tender for a superyacht or restoring a classic yacht with copper nails and oak ribs,” explains Founder & Managing Director, Dave Cockwell. “If your beloved yacht needs attention, or if you wish to rescue something long-neglected, we offer a bespoke service to ensure that we meet your exact requirements, no matter how challenging or unusual they might be. When renovating a much-loved craft, we stop at nothing in our quest for perfection.”

Fleury II will participate in The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships’ return to Dunkirk to commemorate the 80th anniversary of this daring mission, which was planned for May 2020 but has been postponed until May 2021 in view of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For further information about The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, visit www.adls.org.uk