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Piers and Lin du Pré are the owners of the Fleming 55 Play d'eau, based in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350.

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Home at last

Play d’eau enters the narrow Doyle Passage
between the shore and the outlying reefs
click to enlarge

Captain Kim Hollamby and Executive Officer Guy Nicholls cast off from Shamrock Quay, Southampton, at 2248 hrs on 28 December 2014 under a clear night sky, to bring Play d’eau home after her plastic surgery.

The temperature was well below freezing, ice was on the decks, but inside the central heating was working perfectly.
——————–

Capt Kim reports…

The pontoons crackled with frost as we approached Play d’eau at Shamrock to prep for her night return to Guernsey. It was cold, but eerily still, a welcome lull after the high winds of recent days. So far so good.

Underway by 2250 we were soon heading away from the shore lights of the Itchen and Southampton Water, revealing a captivating canopy of myriad stars from horizon to horizon. The decks were slick with ice outside but inside we were toasty warm in the pilot house, faces basked by the warm glow of Play d’eau’s mission control array of screens.

Traffic

…and passes inside Platte Fougère
click to enlarge

All of her electronic capability was put to good use throughout. Off Hurst we had to keep a wary eye on an inbound Cowes Southampton car ferry well off her patch – was she lost or returning from a secret assignment?

Then, a few miles south of the Needles we had to dodge two large cruise liners as they headed with purpose towards the Western Solent. With no quarter given by them, we conceded to ‘might being right’ and dutifully made our turns to starboard as per ColRegs.

An hour or two of peaceful cruising followed and a chance for a late night bowl of soup and a few Zzzzs. Me first, Guy later. But then more traffic as we entered the English Channel’s busy shipping lanes, with several course alterations needed.

In a final hurrah no less than seven ships presented themselves in Froggerlike formation. With them plotted on radar, we made our move and crossed safely ahead of all.

Sunrise

Play d’eau about to enter
framed by Eabora’s masts
click to enlarge

The winter sunrise was a late waker – but sudden in appearance, zooming though hues from dark blue, to grey to lighter blue. It also heralded a freshening wind on the quarter with Play d’eau cheekily wiggling her bottom in deference to the odd white horse or two. Our consolation? A plate of steaming bacon sandwiches.

Then finally the run down from the Casquets to Beaucette, under sunny blue skies, with Guernsey, Herm, Sark, the other island (Jersey), France and Alderney all visual, waves calming a little.

Final Approach

Our final approach along the narrow Doyle Passage included a fly past one very windswept camera toting Piers on Fort Doyle, before we sized up the swell for an entrance through Beaucette’s narrow, rocky jaws.

I could see Piers watching up from the Harbour Office, again, with camera at the ready. No pressure then!

We were all lined up for a grand and stately arrival until another playful wave slapped Play d’eau’s quarter in a final giddy up. This couldn’t end in tears though, her gleaming flanks could not be scarred and she responded quickly to corrective action.

Through the entrance channel
and turning to port to enter the lagoon
click to enlarge

We were through and into the idyllic lagoon beyond and ready to perform gentle final manoeuvres before handing her back over to rightfully proud owners, Piers and Lin.

Lines secured, my shoulders sagged. Relax. Mission accomplished!

Kim Hollamby
————————–

Play d’eau’s home

Capt Kim, naturally, manoeuvred Play d’eau with precision to her berth, whilst Guy was officer in charge of fenders and warps. Although somewhat salty from the crossing, Play d’eau was gleaming whilst Kim and Guy were glowing.

With teas, coffees, welcomes and comments of admiration from many Beaucette residents, Play d’eau, home at last, looked regal albeit in need of a good soapy bath.

The crew’s return

After lunch at the marina restaurant, we drove a weary Kim and Guy to Guernsey’s International Airport to catch the 1615 Blue Islands flight to Southampton, and bade our farewells to Play d’eau’s tired crew.

Welcome home, Play d’eau.

Piers and Lin
from the ‘toasty warm’ Saloon of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

Capt Kim brings Play d’eau to her berth
click to enlarge

A triumphant Guy Nicholls and Kim Hollamby
click to enlarge

Capt Kim, taking well earned applause
click to enlarge

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