Darley’s year: everything from pollution to party boat

‘Pearl of London’ – owned by London Party Boats – dressed up as the Thames Budboat
‘Pearl of London’ – owned by London Party Boats – dressed up as the Thames Budboat
‘Fagio II’. Photo: Manor Marine
‘Fagio II’. Photo: Manor Marine
‘Fagio II’s DESMI mop, Photo: G Tester
‘Fagio II’s DESMI mop, Photo: G Tester
Ebsfleet Marine’s road transportable workboat
Ebsfleet Marine’s road transportable workboat
‘Pearl’, in original livery
‘Pearl’, in original livery
Industry Database

Ian Darley has had a busy year since Seawork 2017, with two refits and a pair of newbuilds in the water.

One of these is the Fagio II for the Kenyan Ports Authority, which came to the Seawork Pontoon in July this year. At 24m in length and 7.3m beam it’s the largest so far of the Manor Marine’s Polecats: the last being a 19m long version. So, given the change in scale, the yard approached Darley for an update to the established, asymmetric design. The end result is a manoeuvrable, seagoing cat for pollution control, fire fighting, offshore transport, supply and rescue propelled by twin screws and FP propellers, powered by a pair of Yanmar 4TNV98 gensets.

The oil-spill mitigation comes from a DESMI Zero Relative Velocity (ZRV) oil skimmer ‘mop’ mounted forward which pivots and drops down into the water beneath, spreading its wings to channel the flow to the rotating brushes between the two hulls and from there into the 30 tonne tanks on each side. It’s a neat idea: oil is recovered without the need for prior containment by simply driving the boat through the slick.

The ‘fun’ side – but with a serious amount of work to back it up – has been the conversion from the 1966 Gosport Queen to the party boat, Pearl of London. A solid 30m by 9m build from the old John A Thorneycroft yard which was kept in service till 2016 it still had enormously capable power and propulsion; original Gardiner 6L3B engines and Schottel units are split between an engine room at either end “which makes it brilliant to manoeuvre, you can go sideways, backwards, or round and round” explained Darley.

To enable Pearl to live up to its name as a party animal has required more than a facelift: first of all, the interior divisions have been swept away, the originally open back on the main deck being enclosed with an additional 10m of steel work and glass doors. LEDs lights set the mood on the dance floor in the middle of the main saloon, seats and tables wrap around the edge for socialising. It’s not only the passengers that get more space, the wheelhouse has been replaced with a full width version, “it originally had something the size of a telephone kiosk on top” said Darley.

At capacity it can take 360 passengers and 20 crew; obviously with this amount of drink going down, one of the most significant additions has been the plumbing admitted Darley. Male and female comfort facilities have been installed on the main deck aft, including a disabled toilet: the steelwork being carried out by Thamescraft  Drydocking Services, near Greenwich and the rest of the fit out being carried out by London Party Boats’s own technicians.

The boat has already been drawing attention, most recently in the bright red and black temporary livery of Budweiser’s FIFA World Cup ‘Budboat’ as it floats up and down the Thames with 18 screens, the largest three metres wide, on the upper deck.

Darley has also been responsible for a 16m by 7.5m newbuild for Ebbsfleet, presently looking for a new home: “It has big, potable water and diesel supply tanks... and splits to be road-transportable as the two halves can be carried separately, locking together very securely with Ravestein couplings.”  Both these characteristics make it suitable for out-of-the-way or nearshore marine construction, he added.

Last but not least, there’s been the Jack D refit, the boat recently landing a two year contract for London City Airport. He had convinced the owner of the ease of cut-n-fit alloy superstructures on a previous build: “We design and bring it to a CAD drawing which can be sent off for cutting out by someone like AALCO,” he said, “all the yard has to do is weld and install it.” However, he added, it takes a certain faith in the outcome as these patterns fit very snugly, with, for example, some fairly odd angles to achieve the correct tilt at the windows, the superstructure achieving its final form “rather like a complex piece of origami”.

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