The completion of framing.
The ferry's completed hull.
The deck being fitted.
A graphic of the finished ferry, which will be named after a public competition.

The long-running St Mawes to Falmouth ferry in Cornwall, UK, has a service history dating back to 1878. To extend this tradition, the St Mawes Ferry Company ordered a new wooden ferry boat in 2006 for the route.

The 100-passenger ferry will operate 364 days a year (aside from yearly maintenance) and will be joined by three ferries during the summer and one during the winter.

The new ferry was launched in May 2008, to join its two sister ferries, which are over 80 years old.

The ship was launched from Cockwells Modern and Classic Boatbuilders at Penryn. The ferry then underwent two weeks of comprehensive tests by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency before going into service. The naming ceremony was carried out by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall on 11 July 2008. The ferry was named The Duchess of Cornwall.


The laying of the keel, made of African opepe hardwood (passed for marine use), was completed in October 2006. The frame is made of oak and larch planking. The planking was sourced from near Inverness, Scotland, and the oak from Newcastle and Cornwall.

The keel wood was provided by JB Timber Ltd, a specialist supplier of marine timber.

The ferry uses two Nanni Diesel engines with Kubota blocks and low revving generating 115 horse power each. The shafts are from C&O Engineering of Dorset and the steering and manoeuvring gear is from Wills Ridley of Falmouth.

There are three main pumps onboard, along with ten bilge pumps. Two of the main pumps supply fresh water and seawater. The third pump is to be used if there is a fire onboard. It will draw seawater directly from the sea to a hose with enough power behind it to send out a six-metre jet.

The wheelhouse features state of the art navigational aids including radar depth sounder, VHF radio, global positioning satellites (GPS), fire detection system and a PA system which can also be linked to the stereo/radio.


The ferry will be able to make 9kt outside of the harbour and will have basic radar and GPS systems for navigation. The boat will have a crew of two, with one skipper and a deck hand. The ferry will be equipped with an easy-access toilet and a small refreshment bar.

There will be outside seating areas and undercover areas for passengers depending on the time of year. The 60ft-long ferry is 15ft 9ins at the maximum beam and has a draft of 2ft 9in.


The ferry was ordered from Cockwells Modern & Classic Boat Building in Penryn, Cornwall.

“It will join its two sister ferries, which are over eighty years old.”

The keel was constructed using several pieces of opepe.  Two 6in-thick pieces were bolted together at a length of 60ft with a varying depth of 2ft at the stern and 6in in the bow. 

More opepe was joined on top with a piece known as the hog (4in deep and 12in wide and is steamed into position).

The oak stem and apron were then attached to the keel, the connection being made with a grown oak knee.

Then the transom was connected in the same way. Sixty larch trees from a forest near Inverness were used for the planking. The ferry will have a composite deck (70.5m²) consisting of two layers of plywood, cut specifically to fit the deck space with lapped joints and then sheathed in epoxy and glass.

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