World of Boats (EISCA) Collection ~ Fal Oyster Boat, Sunny South

  • Boat Name: Sunny South
  • Boat Use: Fishing
  • Boat Type: Fal Oyster Boat
  • Build Date: 1904
  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • Area of Origin: Cornwall, St Ives
  • Boat Dimensions: Length 25 ft 0 in



The Fal oyster beds, more correctly, the Truro river oyster beds, are the last grounds in Britain still worked under sail or oar. This is neither because the sail is more efficient nor through fondness for tradition. It is merely to conserve the oysters and to prevent the destruction of the beds that would result if power dredging were allowed. The boats may motor to and from the grounds but when there, they may not use their motors, to prevent overfishing.

The fisherman requires a licence for each dredge that he takes out and his catch is likely to be inspected by the oyster bailiff at any time, to make sure that he is not keeping small oysters, but he is unlikely to be able to handle more than three dredges from one boat, for these either have to be hauled across the bottom using the sails or by windlass if there is no wind.

She was rigged as a lugger, a handy, but not very efficient rig where the sail is not fixed to the mast. This is typical of the West Cornish fishing craft. Propulsion: motor and either sail or oar for fishing.


Although a typical Fal oyster boat in lines and rig, Sunny South was built at St. Ives in 1904 by William Paynter as a crabber for a Newquay fisherman and was first registered with her present number the following year in Padstow.

She was in Newquay in 1905 when she changed hands for £10. In 1933 she was converted to a yawl, removing the thwarts and adding the foredeck and short after deck. In addition to fishing, she had considerable success in the Newquay regattas under a new name ‘Danny Boy’.

In 1965 she was bought by her present owner, Mr John Redfearn who towed her round to Falmouth. In the four years that followed she was converted into the gaff-cutter, she is today. As such she is similar to the smaller oyster-dredging boats of the Truro River with which she regularly raced in the summer months which culminated in her winning the Falmouth to Fowey Race for working boats in 1970. (The Truro River has the distinction of being the last oyster fishery in the world to be worked under sail alone).

(In 1973 she was offered on permanent loan to the Museum by her owner J.B. Redfearn and was sailed from Fowey to the Museum by members of ISCA).

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