AN ICONIC boat wreck that has drawn hundreds of tourists and photographers to the Gannel in Newquay over the past 11 years has been dismantled.
Former Royal Navy tender the Sanu was left stranded in April 2002 after arriving on a high tide with a failing engine, and has been gradually breaking up ever since.
The National Trust, which leases the section of coastline from the Duchy of Cornwall, has made several well-publicised attempts to find the boat's legal owner and then acquired her and offered her for sale by tender to avoid having to destroy the vessel.
With no offers forthcoming, a decision was made to destroy the boat as emergency services said she was becoming a danger to other users of the estuary.
Experts dismantled the historic boat on Thursday, with the timber and other materials expected to be recycled.
The Sanu inspired Cornish author Denys Val Baker to write a number of books and was the subject of his 1972 volume The Petrified Mariner.
Claire Bolitho, the trust's regional spokeswoman, said the decision to break Sanu up had not been taken lightly.
"The coastguards said it would be far too dangerous to float it out so the only option was to break her up on site," she said.
"It's a real shame; in her time she was pretty magnificent. Around 18 months ago we tried to raise the profile of it and find out who owned it, or if anyone could take it off our hands. Unfortunately we had no luck and it was in such a dilapidated state that no one could do anything with it."
Built in Looe in 1942 by Curtis and Pape Ltd, the Sanu was one of 50 supply vessels ordered as tenders for the Royal Navy.
In 2001 she set sail along the North Cornwall coast, bound for dry dock near Bristol where she was to undergo a long overdue restoration, but her engine failed and her owners were forced to take shelter in the Gannel estuary, which would become her final resting place.
Earlier this year designer and TV presenter Kevin McCloud secured permission to take some of the timber from the boat for use on his Channel 4 show Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home.
At the time Ian Kemp, general manager for the National Trust in North Cornwall, said: "The Sanu had a fascinating life. In many ways it seems sad that after such a colourful life she has to be broken, but at least some parts of the boat will now live on."
As a representative of the last major phase of wooden boatbuilding in the UK, key parts of the Sanu's hull have been preserved for research purposes by the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust.