Falmouth Quay Punt
The Falmouth Quay Punt evolved in the UK port of Falmouth, Cornwall around the beginning of the 20th century. Falmouth, with a good deep water harbour situated near the Western entrance to the English Channel, was a popular port for large merchant sailing ships to call "for orders". Before the days of radio, captains would often not know which port their cargo would be destined for before they arrived in the country, and needed to collect instructions before continuing.
Ships coming to anchor in the Carrick Roads would employ a Falmouth Quay Punt to be a runabout while they were in port. Traditionally, the first punt to come in contact with a ship as it came into the channel would get the job of looking after her while she was in port, so the punts would often range far to the west in the hope of finding a ship and getting custom.
Typical jobs while in port would include running fresh provisions out to the ship, and taking passengers ashore. Falmouth Quay Punts evolved a distinctive style, with deep draught well suited for the frisky conditions to be found in the Western approaches; short mainmasts to allow them to sail under the yards of a big square rigger, and large open wells for the carrying of passengers and cargo. A small cuddy in front of the mainmast was the only shelter available for the skipper and his boy (if he was lucky enough to have one).
End of an era
The arrival of the radio, and engines, together spelt the end of an era for these seaworthy craft shortly after the end of the First World War. Many were turned into yachts, and a few survive to this day. Chas Peters, the wife of Maurice Griffiths, the well-known yachting author, owned the working boat Juanita for a number of years, and she features in one of Maurice Griffiths' books.
Curlew is perhaps the best-known Quay Punt surviving today. Tim and Pauline Carr circumnavigated the world in the 28 foot engineless boat, from the Arctic to the Antarctic Peninsula and explored with her around the remote Antarctic island of South Georgia, before donating her to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. The even smaller Quay Punt Teal - originally built as Little Pal for the writer Percy Woodcock, and also operated without an engine, recently undertook a long voyage to the Baltic Sea.