The dramatic experiences of wildlife enthusiasts aboard Captain Keith Leeves’ Free Spirit “seafaris” will continue to be of a natural, not mechanical kind thanks to a complete overhaul by experts from Mylor Yacht Harbour’s Marine Team.
With hundreds of passengers venturing forth from Falmouth with Captain Keith each year to spot dolphins, seals, basking sharks and even whales the reliability and safety of his famous Aquabell 33 Sports Cruiser boat is imperative.
“I entrusted Mylor’s Marine Team with this crucial work because they have the world-class skills and the ability to do a brilliant job speedily enough to get me – and my clients – back on the water so we don’t miss out on any of those great sights,” he says.
The Marine Team’s complete engine overhaul involved stripping down Free Spirit’s trusty Perkins diesel to the last nut and bolt and surveying every component. The crankshaft, pistons and rings were replaced, the cylinder bores honed and polished, and the fuel injection pump re-calibrated. Finally, it was rebuilt – with a few clever modifications to the exhaust system so it runs more quietly.
“They’ve done a marvellous job,” says Keith. “It’s like I’ve got a brand new engine! I really can’t commend Mylor enough, the whole team from the reception to the workshops. They have been so accommodating and they’re always available if I have any queries – it’s a terrific service all round.”
Captain Keith pioneered specialist wildlife-spotting cruises in Cornwall back in 2002, combining tourism with conservation data-collection. Since 2012 he has run ‘AK Wildlife Cruises’ from the flybridge of Free Spirit – one of the most distinctive sights, winter and summer, in Falmouth’s harbour and bay.
“This is the kind of job at which Mylor excels,” says Engineering Manager Nathan Percival, “but one of the most pressing factors in this case was time. We had a particular window to get the work completed in because this is Captain Keith’s living as a commercial operator so we needed to get him back on the water as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
The upshot is that lucky passengers aboard the Free Spirit this Spring have already had the wonder and delight of spotting a rare humpback whale, pods of common dolphins, basking sharks, puffins and choughs – with many more exciting prospects ahead this summer as the waters get warmer.
AK Wildlife Cruises’ “seafaris” are run by passionate naturalist and recommended boat operator Captain Keith Leeves who has been in the field for 35 years with his motto “if it’s out there we will find it and expect the unexpected” – always respecting the sensitivities of the wildlife in their environment and following the strict codes of Wildlife Trusts and Conservation Groups.
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