The museum’s collections consist of a range of objects, boats, art, books and archives in support of its mission to promote an understanding of small boats and their place in people’s lives, and of the maritime heritage of Cornwall. We are currently working towards making a full catalogue of our collections accessible online.

The National Small Boat Collection
The National Small Boat Collection was originally developed by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. This is now housed in Cornwall where it has been extended by the addition of other craft. This collection is representative of boats from the UK and around the world. A maximum of length overall of 30ft (9.14m) is set for the collection although there are exceptions. A collection of objects and archives support the National Small Boat Collection.

The Cornish Maritime Collection
Much of the Cornish Maritime Collection came from the former Cornwall Maritime Museum in Falmouth. It contains objects, pictures, models and archives relating to the history of Cornwall and the sea, and Falmouth in particular.

An important element of this collection is the material relating to the Falmouth Packet Ships which includes six watercolours by Maltese artist Cammillieri.

Reserve Collections
The Museum has a large collection of objects, boats and archives. The majority of the collection is held in store.

If you would like to make an appointment to view objects which are not on display, please email outlining the type(s) of objects you would like to view

Conservation and restoration
Our conservation and restoration team is always working away to ensure that our collection is in tip-top condition. Their aim is preserve our boats, pictures and objects for the enjoyment and education of this and future generations. As its name suggests, our boat team concentrates on our fleet of boats, the majority of which are now ‘dry’ – no longer on the water – having being given a graceful retirement in the care of our experts. These boats form the core of the displays you will see in the Museum. Others are ‘wet’, and are kept on the water or are restored so that they can to return to the water. This is always more expensive but allows them to be shown as they were intended by their designers and builders. When not on display our collection of objects and pictures are kept in a purpose-built store. This meets the highest standards, with constant monitoring for optimum environmental conditions, infestation or physical damage. If you feel able to make a contribution to this important work then please visit the donations page.


River Plate dugout log boat

This dug out canoe was produced by burning the centre of the log out with controlled fire and finishing with a hand axe. This particular example is thought to have been used on the River Plate including the estuary and as such is complete with a tin plate foredeck at the bow. The hull is…

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Holmsbu Pram

This Holmsbu pram is a working descendent from the same ancestor as many small yachts and dinghies in Britain today. This particular craft was used for herring fishing in the Oslo fjords of Norway. The aft part of the boat is closed off with a bulkhead and planked over to form a watertight compartment in…

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Bridgewater Flatner Peat Princess

This boat was primarily used in the lower reaches and tidal estuary of the River Parrett in Somerset for fishing or as a sailing day boat in Bridgewater Bay. Known locally as “Flatties” there are a number of different designs of Somerset flatners, the common feature being a longitudinally planked almost flat bottom and the…

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Fenland Punt

This type of punt originated from the fens of Cambridgeshire and was used as a general working boat and for fishing. This particular example, the last of its kind afloat on the River Ouse/River Cam, was used for catching eels with an eel gleave. The hull construction is highly individual to the type with a…

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RNSA 14 ft dinghy

This RNSA (Royal Naval Sailing Association) type of sailing dinghy was a modified version of the 14 ft One-Design Island Class, designed by Charles Nicholson and Uffa Fox in 1935. In 1937 the Admiralty adopted the class, with some modifications, specifically to adapt it for use aboard the Navy’s warships. Its purpose was to provide…

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Finn dinghy Seawolf

Designed by the Swedish canoe designer Rickard Sarby in 1949, the single handed Finn class racing dinghy was adopted for the Olympics in 1952 in Helsinki, Sarby himself taking the Bronze medal. The Finn replaced the previous arrangement of having a different single hander design for each Olympiad. Predecessors as Olympic Monotypes, the term originally…

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Dutch Courage – an early Flying Dutchman

In 1980 the Flying Dutchman class claimed to be the fastest two man centreboard dinghy in the world and even today it remains a very fast design. It originated at trials by the International Yacht Racing Union in 1954, soon achieved international status and was subsequently used for the Olympic games from the1960s through 1992.…

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Claritie – an early cold moulded dinghy

Claritie is a 1956-built typical example of the common wooden and later GRP built pram dinghies which were carried aboard yachts as a tender. Designed and constructed by the well known designer Austin “Clarence” Farrar Claritie was an early experiment in cold moulding plywood. This system of manufacture was developed to improve the more traditional…

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Seal – a lady’s dinghy delight

This single handed sailing dinghy was designed and built by the well known Norfolk boat builders William Starling and Sons of Blakeney in 1929 for Miss Patience Hardcastle of Godalming in Surrey. She had been taught to sail by Mr. Starling whilst on holiday in Norfolk and had initially sailed in the family’s heavy boat,…

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