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The Duchess of Cornwall: Diary Entry 1

14 August 2007 — 14 August 2008

Stage 1: The Design

OAK from Cornwall, larch from Scotland and opepe from Africa have all been used on the new St Mawes Ferry, currently under construction at Cockwells Boatyard in Falmouth.

The 60ft wooden ferry has been modelled on The Queen of Falmouth - one of the current ferries used to take passengers to the quaint harbour village of St Mawes from the bustling town of Falmouth.

Dave Cockwell, owner of Cockwells said: “The two main reasons the Queen of Falmouth was chosen as a good model to work from was fuel economy and passenger capacity.  She is the most fuel economic vessel in the fleet. This is probably because 70 years ago when she was built, the engines had very little horse power so the onus was on the designer to get the hull shape as efficient as possible. At Cockwells, efficient hull shapes is something we strongly believe in”

Cockwells in-house
designer Mash Derrick said the design took several weeks to perfect, taking into account the difficult low tides in St Mawes, the needs of the crew who would work on the ferry and the requirement of the company itself to have a vessel which was in keeping with the other ferries in the fleet.“

We spent months researching the various boat building materials and looked into making her from steel and fibreglass but really had our hearts set on wood,” explained managing director Tim Light.

A night in a pub in Falmouth talking to the crew highlighted the pros and cons of the current fleet. Mash said: “They all like the way the Queen of Falmouth handles the occasionally rough waters of Carrick Roads.”

“Also, during very low tides, the crew can’t land at the quay in St Mawes and have to put the bow of the boat onto the sand. We looked into bow thrusters to make this easier, but the sand would create high wear and tear on the bow thrusters themselves. The current ferry is two propped with a single rudder, but we have decided to make the new vessel two propped with dual rudder which will improve manoeuvrability when coming into the quay at low speeds,” Mash added.

The comfort of passengers was also high on the list of “musts” for the ferry company. During the design process, the size of the windows have been increased, the top deck has been extended to provide more shelter for passengers on the lower deck and a special gate in the hull has been added to allow people in wheelchairs to use the ferry when pontoons are available during bespoke trips. As with the current ferry, a toilet will be available.