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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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Play d’eau is featured in MBY

Motor Boat & Yachting April 2013 edition
click to enlarge

After 10 years of glorious cruising, we decided it was time to upgrade Play d’eau’s electronics.

We spent considerable time researching which equipment, suppliers and installers would be used, and work finally began in the winter of 2012 and finished before the season started in 2013.

As you imagine, this became more than just an electronics upgrade, and involved the fabrication of a new pony mast to fit on the radar arch, a galley upgrade, satellite TV, bimini cover, IMO approved horns and bell, as well as new joinery works.

The upgrades were detailed in an article entitled Owner Upgrades in the April 2013  edition of Motor Boat & Yachting.

Owners Upgrades (Note – there are many pics at the bottom of this page)

It was a simple matter of creep. It wasn’t really planned, it just happened. Are we pleased with final result? Without doubt. Would we have chosen a different route if we’d known the cost before starting? No.

Play d’eau, our 2003 Fleming 55, would soon be 10 years old and we felt we owed her a face lift. Although we’ve cruised from Holland to the Scillies, and the Normandy and Brittany coasts, we have ideas to cruise much further afield with the Baltic, Sweden and Norway in mind.

Play d’eau in the Gouliot Passage between Sark and Brecqhou in 2003
click to enlarge

Externally, although she still looked gorgeous, we knew there were gel coat defects and some dull areas. Parts of the teak decking needed attention as well, and the flybridge perspex wind deflector had become quite crazed. She’d served us so well we felt it was time to show some extra love in return. The question became who could we trust to do a really good job?

A phone call to Fleming Europe was all it took. David Miles immediately recommended Julian Wilmot of GRP Boat Repairs. ‘I use them for all Fleming external works,’ explained David. ‘Julian will do a superb job, achieving a 100% colour match with the gel coat as well.’

Talking with Julian we began to feel confidence. Yes, the gel repairs could all be done and the GRP would be restored to its original gleaming finish. The teak could also be brought back to its original state. ‘But how?’ I asked Julian. ‘I’ve seen so many horrid so called teak restorations which turn teak yellow – or worse.’ Smiling, Julian replied. ‘We use the same treatment whether it’s on a small boat or one of the super- or mega-yachts we work on. The Wessex teak cleaning treatment. Trust me.’ Hmmm. Well, we agreed a scope of works and work began on correcting 138 GRP defects, restoring the shine and yes, every bit of teak was brought back to its original wondrous finish.

‘After’
Play d’eau’s
name board in gold leaf on teak
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

Whilst this work was progressing our minds began thinking about the inside of Play d’eau. For example, the ten year old electronics and the wish list of changes to which we’d been adding over time. Maybe we should just update the chart plotter and radar? We’d always wanted a sea-stabilised radar for accurate MARPA and target aspect, and for this there was only really one manufacturer available, Furuno. (Note: I’ve added a separate post on the use of radar in restrictive visibility, here.).

A call to Jim Staig, whom I’ve known for many years and who is an undoubted electronics genius, of MEI Ltd, and I was soon in Furuno UK’s Portsmouth HQ discussing their systems with Furuno guru, Dan Conway. Seeing the Furuno 2117 radar was fully sea-stabilised, there was no contest. The NavNet3D chart plotter was its counterpart, and with both being black box we could use the new 19” Hatteland X-series screens with a 12” high bright Hatteland on the fly-bridge. What could be better? The order was placed.

But then, of course, the instruments and auto-pilot would look ‘old’. So the hunt began for replacements with a Simrad AP70 autopilot complete with pump and rudder reference unit being chosen and B&G Triton instruments for depth, log and wind speed.

‘After’
The FLIR thermal imaging camera looking from Haslar marina to the east side of Portsmouth
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

Working on the principle of ‘see and be seen’, we replaced the single band Sea-Me with an Echomax dual band active radar reflector, and added an Easy TRX2-1S Class B transceiver with the ability to turn its transmissions off when in crowded boating areas.

And when we thought that was that, the fun really started.

Rather than the standard 4’ scanner, Furuno recommended the 6’ 6” scanner, which would mean the radar arch was overcrowded. To overcome this, Julian recommended an additional ‘pony’ mast which he’d had fabricated by BD Marine Ltd for previous Flemings in matching gel coat colour. On the positive side, we would then have space to fit an image stabilised FLIR thermal imaging camera so at last we could travel at night with the bonus of seeing the dreaded lobster pots in pitch black darkness at over a kilometre away. The drawings for the pony were created, they looked good, so the order was placed. Again, perfect – let’s go.

Sea-stabilised radars need a really accurate boat heading to refresh the radar, rapidly. Lo and behold, we learnt the Furuno satellite compass could do just that so one was added to the ever growing shopping list. To back it up, we installed a new Furuno PG500 flux-gate compass as well, just in case. A good speed through the water was also needed, and despite looking at Doppler systems, Furuno’s recommendation was simply to use a good old fashioned (and inexpensive) paddle wheel log. An Airmar DST800 was chosen.

Whilst about it, we thought it would be a good idea to fit some video cameras mainly to enable docking from the Pilot House where there are blind spots. A call to Simon Coleman of Boat Electronics and Electrics Ltd (BEE Ltd) soon sorted the choice of cameras to cover the port side, starboard, and aft, and one was added for the engine room as well. That meant we needed two more 12” Hatteland screens for the Pilot House…. Simon also provided expertise in how the cameras should be wired into the screens to enable any camera to be viewed from any screen. Genius.

‘After’
The flybridge wind deflector had become crazed
and it was replaced
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

Having chosen the new electronics, who would fit them? Again, talking with David Miles, he recommended Martin Janning of Koenig Marine who’d worked on many Flemings in the past (including Play d’eau ten years previously!) and knew the cable runs inside out.

The next major problem was how to fit the screens and instruments in the Pilot House consoles without them looking like a hash job. Enter, stage left, Mickey Dovey, master joiner, and I mean master joiner, who had worked on Flemings for many years and like Martin, knew their every Fleming nuance. He recommended removing the whole main console to refurbish it to its original state and to cut in all the instruments afresh. Everything would look brand new and bespoke with the added benefit that Martin would temporarily have easier access to the wiring looms not only to make them beautiful, but to remove all the redundant cabling as well.

Meanwhile, a new set of shiny and good looking Kahlenberg D-1 air horns were installed to replace the older (and non-IMO compliant) Buell horns. Boy, do they sound superb, and, with a Kahlenberg controller, all the required fog signals could now be handled automatically.

By now, the pony was fitted and most of the electronics had been installed. That’s when the last issue was found; the existing bimini cover didn’t fit anymore – the pony was in the way. However, a call to Jim of JB Yacht Services had him on board in a trice, a re-design agreed, and a lovely new bimini installed.

‘After’
A new wine cupboard in place of the ice maker
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

So, what of the other non-electronic changes? Mickey replaced the slow three burner electric hob with a fast De Detrich four burner induction hob which meant cutting the existing granite to take the larger footprint and refitting the pan holders. Mickey also modified a saloon cupboard to a wine drawer and shelf, installed a new TV, fabricated a folding teak table top in the third cabin for use as a study and created a beautiful chopping board to fit over the new hob to protect it when not in use.

Whilst adding the pony mast, we added an Intellian i3 satellite TV dish, balancing the look of the radar arch with a dummy Intellian ‘poached egg’ on the other side which covered the Navtex aerial. Both had colour matched cake stands fabricated for them.

Reaching the end of the works, the original eight station intercom was replaced with a Panasonic telephone system with eight new handsets from du Pré plc. No more buzzing, no ability to eavesdrop, and the facility to call all extensions if trying to locate someone. We also added a Premi-cell to provide a dial 9 capability from any handset for outside calls. Job done.

Finally, the compasses were swung by Robinsons. Both were wildly out but Joanna reduced the deviation to less than 1 degree. Success.

‘After’
The new helm looking (almost) like a glass bridge
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

So what’s still on the wish list? A STIDD low profile deluxe helm seat and a Webasto hydronic heating system. Maybe, just maybe….

So were we let down by anyone? No, apart from an issue with the integration between the Simrad AP70 and the Furuno electronics which took time to fix. Did the trades all live up to their word and play well with one another? Yes. Did it take longer than we thought? Yes. Was it a problem? Not when we saw the brilliant results. And yes, she really does look ten years younger.

The inevitable question is should we have changed Play d’eau for the latest model 55, or even a new 58? We can only answer like this. We know Play d’eau inside out. Every square inch of her, and in as much as we’ve treated her well, she’s treated us well. Why divorce and start again? The only attraction of the 58 would be its significant additional space. But seeing it’s only for the two of us did we really need this extra space and was it worth the additional cost? No. Instead we worked on modernising Play d’eau and making her fit for extended cruising for the next ten years – at least.

New Kit (PH = Pilot House; FB = Fly bridge)

Radar Furuno FAR2117BB radar, 6’ 6” scanner. Controller for PH
Chart Plotter Furuno nn3d MFDBB chart plotter. Controllers for PH & FB
PH Screens 2 x 19” and 2 x 12” Hatteland series X screens, optically bonded
FB Screen 1 x Hatteland 12” series X High Bright screen, optically bonded
Autopilot Simrad AP70 autopilot. Controllers for PH & FB
Instruments 2 x Simrad Triton instruments (Depth, Speed through water, Wind). PH & FB
Video cameras 4 x cameras. Port, stbd, aft and engine room
Telephone system (PABX) 8 station Panasonic KX-TEA 308 PABX, complete with 8 handsets and Premi-cell
Thermal camera FLIR M618CS image stabilised 25Hz refresh rate, c/w dual controls
Helm Seat STIDD Luxury Low Back Slimline Seat
Satellite compass Furuno SC50
Fluxgate compass Furuno PG500
Radar reflector Echomax dual band (X & S) active
Horn Kahlenberg D-1 twin air horns, 134 dB (IMO compliant & certified)
Horn controller Kahlenberg M511C
Bell Kahlenberg 7”, cast in bell bronze and engraved (IMO compliant & certified)
Flood light Imtra PowerLED flood light C2-139HT
Radar arch lights Imtra Hatteras recessed ILIM 31301 LED
Voltage smoothers Alphatronix for smooth supplies to the FLIR, PABX and video cameras
Satellite TV Intellian i3, with a Panasonic TXL24X5B TV, and Humax 500Gb decoder
AIS Easy TRX2-1S Class B transceiver, c/w transmit on/off switch
Boat covers Bimini and console covers
Hob De Detrich 704v induction hob
Hob cover A teak chopping board
Teak decking Complete restoration (which had become bleached with age – like me!
Saloon cabinetry The ice maker cabinet converted to a wine drawer and shelf. TV cabinet
Bunk cabin cabinetry Folding desk top table added

Trades

Fleming Yachts David Miles Fleming Yachts Europe 02380 337289
GRP and restoration work Julian Willmott GRP Boat Repairs Ltd 07774 141913
Boat electronics supplier Jim Staig MEI Ltd (Port Solent) 02392 326366
Boat electronics manufacturer Dan Conway Furuno UK Ltd 02392 441000
PABX and Premi-cell Ben Johnston du Pré plc 01635 555555
Installer & perfectionist Martin Janning Koenig Marine Ltd 07540 390414
Master Joiner & woodwork restorer Mickey Dovey Mickey Dovey 07748 906413
Marine horns and bells Toby du Pré Kahlenberg UK Ltd 01635 35353
Hatteland screens & FLIR Toby du Pré du Pré Marine Ltd 01635 888 888
Stainless & metal fabrication work Brad Smith B D Marine Ltd 02380 220294
Video cameras (plus ‘bits’) Simon Coleman BEE Ltd 01292 315355
Boat Covers Jim Baumann JB Yacht Services 01489 572487
Compass adjusting Ms Joanna Robinson Robinsons Compass Adjusters 02380 453533
Wind deflector perspex Carol Austin Sunlight Plastics Ltd 02392 259500

Piers and Lin
from the Engine Room of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

Photo library Pics of the new bimini to follow

‘Before’
The centre main console
click to enlarge

‘Before’
The centre main console – live
click to enlarge

‘Before’
Port main console
click to enlarge

‘Before’
Starboard main console
click to enlarge

‘Before’
Upper port console
click to enlarge

‘Before’
Upper starboard console
click to enlarge

‘Before’
A typical GRP defect and poor teak condition
click to enlarge

‘Before’
Radar arch – aerials left to right are,

VHF 1, AM/FM, Cellular,
GPS, 4′ Radar scanner, GPS,
Navtex, Active radar reflector,
Wind transducer,
VHF 3, VHF 2
click to enlarge

‘During’
The pony mast begins its fabrication
in aluminium
click to enlarge

‘During’
The aluminium pony mast before being covered in GRP and gel coat
click to enlarge

‘During’
The whole helm area is being worked on
click to enlarge

‘During’
Main console completely removed
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‘During’
Martin, inside the stbd electrics bay,
begins re-wiring
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‘During’
The sat compass and AIS are installed behind the pilot house bookcase
click to enlarge

‘During’
Port electrics bay showing the rewiring ‘in progress’
and the nn3d black box
click to enlarge

‘During’
Starboard electrics bay showing the rewiring
‘in progress’
click to enlarge

‘After’
The new pony mast, fully loaded, complete with the Intellian i3 domes
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
Another view of the new pony mast
click to enlarge

‘After’
Upper pony mast showing the sat compass and FLIR thermal imaging camera
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
The aft view of the pony mast, its support strut and the small round aft facing video camera
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy
& MBY)

click to enlarge

‘After’
The new Kahlenberg ships’ bell
cast in bell bronze
The name was also cast in the mould
and not simply engraved
click to enlarge

‘After’
The gorgeous new Kahlenberg D-1 horn
in need of a clean!
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
Pilot House AC wiring bay
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
Pilot House DC wiring bay
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
Piers at the helm
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
The new main helm
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
The Furuno FAR2117 radar uses a
19″ Hatteland display
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
The centre console, showing the
B&G instruments and Simrad AP70 autopilot
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
The De Detrich 4 burner induction hob
which is super-fast
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
The hob laminated teak chopping board
which sits on the pan holder rails
(Photo courtesy Lester McCarthy & MBY)
click to enlarge

‘After’
The desk top deployed in the bunk cabin,
measuring 88cm x 57cm when open.
We use a small stool to sit on, and there’s good space for knees under the desk top
click to enlarge

‘After’
The desk top in the bunk cabin, folded up and completely out of the way.
This allows the cabin to be used as originally intended as a two bunk cabin
click to enlarge

‘After’
The teak in the cockpit after renovation
and before the fenders were changed!
click to enlarge

‘After’
The forepeak teak after renovation
using the Wessex treatment
click to enlarge

‘Before’
Not part of the restoration, but we fitted three of these warp/cable tidies in 2004 – two for the aft warps and one for shore power
click to enlarge

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