Cockwells - Fleury II
July 9, 2020 West Briton: Dunkirk Little Ship sails as boatbuilders bring history to life

Dunkirk Little Ship sails again as boatbuilders bring history to life

A team of boatbuilders have brought a piece of history back to life. The shipwrights at Cockwells Modern and Classic Boatbuilding usually spend their time creating award-winning luxury superyacht tenders or classic motor launches. As boat lovers they also relish the challenge the restoration of a historic vessel presents. Fleury II – a Dunkirk Little Ship with a glassed deck that was leaking and a rotting deck beneath – was taken to Cockwells’ Mylor Creek Boatyard in autumn 2018 for much needed structural repairs.


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


The Little Ships of Dunkirk sailed from Ramsgate, Kent, to Northern France between May 26 and June 4, 1940, to help rescue more than 336,000 British, French and other Allied soldiers trapped on beaches during the Second World War Cockwells’ skilled craftsmen have now restored Fleury II to her former glory.


Mark Curnow, from Cockwells, said: “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, while the wheelhouse and skylight have been repaired and the windlass has received a complete overhaul. The interior has been painted to lighten the space and the exterior has been stripped and revarnished.


Holly Latham, the restoration project manager, said: “Another rewarding part of this project has been the new owner’s eagerness to respect the history of this vessel whilst making sure she can be fully enjoyed during the next chapter of her life. “Practical changes have been introduced sensitively and are hidden, where possible, to complement Fleury II’s heritage and ensure her survival for decades to come.”


Fleury II will take part in The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships’ return to Dunkirk to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the daring mission. The event, scheduled for May, had to be postponed until next year because of coronavirus.

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West Briton: Dunkirk little ship sails again.

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