Cockwells Modern & Classic Boatbuilding has restored a historic WWII vessel which helped rescue more than 336,000 allied soldiers trapped in France.

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. Fleury II was built in Christchurch, Dorset in 1936 and was delivered to Cockwells’ Mylor Creek Boatyard in autumn 2018 for much needed structural repairs.

Fusing the traditional and modern

Fusing modern techniques with traditional design allows for a flexible approach to restoration as shipwright, Mark Curnow, explained. “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.”

The deck has been replaced as have deck fittings, stanchions and one of the aft-cabin sides. 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 stripped and re-varnished.

The Fleury II will participate in the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships’ return to Dunkirk to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the mission, planned for May 2020 but postponed by a year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.