The Duchess of Cornwall: Diary Entry 6

2 April — 14 August 2008

Stage 6: The Wheelhouse and Superstructure

An undercover seating area and wheelhouse are being built this month on the new St Mawes Ferry at Cockwells Classic Boatbuilders in Penryn.

The wooden ferry, which will carry 100 passengers between Falmouth and St Mawes 364 days of the year, is very traditional in design and the wheelhouse (where the crew control the vessel) and the superstructure (the cabin where passengers can sit in bad weather)  - are very similar to those on the current St Mawes ferries.

Garrick Royle, operations manager of the ferry company, said the ferrymen have helped come up with a design for the wheelhouse which works for them on a day to day basis, but which is also pleasing to the eye for passengers.

"The crew and I have had various design meetings with Dave Cockwell, the owner of Cockwells, and although there have been certain stipulations laid out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), I think we have come up with a very nice shaped wheelhouse."

Garrick said the MCA asked for the glass in the wheelhouse to be a certain angle to prevent reflective glare from bouncing off the water and into the ferrymens' eyes. As a result, the glass leans 10 degrees out at the top of the wheelhouse. The wheelhouse, which measures 8ft square, also has to have adequate ventilation.

The superstructure of the ferry is made from marine ply, sheathed in glass reinforced epoxy resin which is painted with a plastic coating to reduce wear and tear. It will have seating for when passengers want to remain undercover, a toilet which can be accessed by people in wheelchairs and a bar area for serving drinks and snacks during the 30 minute crossing.

The back of the ferry will have a sheltered area where passengers can stand outside, but be covered from above. The top deck will have seats for 30 passengers. All seats will house lifejackets and there are two 65-man liferafts on board.

Dave Cockwell said the work is going well with between seven and 14 men working on the ferry at one time. "We are really pleased with the way she's shaping up. The design of the wheelhouse is lovely - we went for a rounded lower section which is very traditional and which will look great when she's painted up. We've used a lot of iroko wood, which is a durable hardwood, and renowned for its quality."

Work will continue on the superstructure and wheelhouse for the next two weeks.