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Flotilla we are home to the National Small Boat collection

Small boats of national and international importance

The National Small Boat Collection was originally developed by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

This is now housed in our museum 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 (14.2m) is set for the collection although there are exceptions. A collection of objects and archives support the National Small Boat Collection.

A number of boats are on display in the museum, while others are housed in a separate offsite store. If travelling to see a specific boat please contact us in advance to check that it is on display in the museum.

The National Small Boat collection, preserving a collection of international importance, craft used for survival, work, competition, leisure, pleasure, exploration and war… from the Inuit kayak, a deadly hunter’s tool of skin and driftwood with an unbroken pedigree stretching back 10,000 years to the Mirror dinghy, as much a part of the ’60s social revolution as the Mini car. The musuem doesn’t just tell the story of inanimate objects – it relates the tales of the lives and the times of those who made and used them.

Below are some highlights.

For a fuller list you can search The National Small Boat Register.

National Small Boat Register

This is a register of notable historic small craft (33ft LOA and below). They are owned by individuals, organisations, trusts or museums. All are noteworthy; some may be worthy of long-term preservation.

The database probably represents only a fraction of the boats which could be included. If you know of a historic boat that you think is important or which you think should be preserved then let us know.

  • It might be a local boat
  • It might be a famous example of a well-known class
  • It might be owned by a trust, organisation or individual
  • It might be a sailing boat, motorboat, pulling dinghy, small yacht, hovercraft…

We want to know about boats in all states of repair: well looked after and ‘well-used’. If you are proud of it then tell us about it.

So, what sort of boat should you suggest?

For traditional boats, almost any boat which is still on the water after 50 years would be an obvious candidate.

For most dinghy classes we need a representative sample, no more than five boats or so, on the Register, especially if it is a one-design class. There are already more than 45 International 14s on the list which may be more than enough.

If you know of a boat that you think should be added to the list then please email headed NSBR.

How else can you help us?

If you think we have got the details wrong on any of these boats, or if you have a photograph where we have not shown one, then please let us know.

If you are an enthusiast – dare we say ‘anorak’ – who knows about the boats in your home area, especially the traditional ones, then we need to hear from you. The Register is only going to work if it draws on the expertise from as many people as possible. Its strength is that it is a cooperative effort from everyone who knows and loves boats.

What if the vessel is over 33ft in length?

There is a separate well-established database – the National Register of Historic Vessels or NRHV – which is managed by National Historic Ships UK. We are working closely with them in the development of both registers.

Contact us

Send any additional details or questions to us at headed NSBR.

View the National Small Boat register database

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Ahoy Captain!

National Maritime Museum
Cornwall Trust
Discovery Quay
TR11 3QY

Tel: +44(0)1326 313388