Today, after months of planning, the wreck of the Sanu, has been broken up and removed from the Gannel Estuary in Newquay, where she has lain aground since 2002. The work to remove the wreck has involved liaison with the Duchy of Cornwall, Newquay Town Council, The Marine Management Organisation, The Environment Agency, the Coastguard, external environmental consultants and the appointed demolition contractors.
The history – The Sanu is a former Admiralty supply boat built in 1942 in Looe, Cornwall and comes with an interesting nautical and literary history. She was, for a while, owned by Cornish Author Denys Val-Baker and featured in two of his books including ‘To Sea with Sanu’ and ‘The Petrified Mariner’. She was in transit along the North Cornish Coast bound for restoration in Bristol in April 2002 when problems meant that she was forced to take refuge in the Gannel Estuary. Without power she was driven far up the estuary on a high spring tide and grounded. The area where she lies is in the ownership of the Duchy of Cornwall but was formerly leased to the Trust. Over the years after she arrived in the Gannel she changed hands many times but by 2011 the latest owners could not be traced and the Trust went through a legal process to take ownership. We tried to sell her in 2011 but a buyer could not be found.
Removal of the vessel – Whilst we recognised that the boat has had an interesting history and that a number of local people have come to value her feeling that she added character to the estuary, there were other issues. She has been the focus of antisocial behaviour and Devon and Cornwall Police have expressed concerns about her continued presence in the estuary. The condition of the boat has deteriorated so much that there was little doubt that she would break up becoming an ever increasing hazard to those who use the estuary. It is for these reasons that the Trust reluctantly took the decision to remove her.
The coastguard confirmed that it would have been far too dangerous to try to float and remove the vessel by sea. The only other option was to break her in situ.
Importantly, we have had marine archaeologists in attendance before and during the demolition to record the wreck. Several pieces have been salvaged for study at Bournemouth University. In addition to this some parts of the boat were removed in June and have been reused in a Channel 4 TV programme ‘Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home’. In co-operating with the film company the Trust was keen to ensure a reuse for at least parts of the boat and to encourage an interest in reuse and recycling of materials more generally.