Schools, libraries and leisure centres across the South West have been closed after more than 100,000 public sector workers walked out over pension rights.
Woodlands Park Primary in Ivybridge closed early
Drivers faced 20-mile detours after the Torpoint Ferry and Dartmouth Lower Ferry were closed.
Non-emergency calls were hit as police staff in Exeter joined the strike.
The dispute is over plans to scrap a rule allowing some people to retire on a full pension at 60, which the government says is discriminatory.
About 500 people attended a protest meeting called by public workers' union Unison in Torquay and about 150 council workers, including teaching assistants and catering staff, attended another meeting at Lemon Quay in Truro.
Ken Terry, of Unison, said: "We are not going to stand by and let them take our pension.
"The government has said we cannot rely on state pensions in the future and therefore we have to have employer-based pensions.
"We have one here and we want to protect it."
About 20 schools in Devon and Cornwall closed early or for the day.
The Torpoint Ferry between Devon and Cornwall was halted until 2200 BST on Tuesday.
Devon and Cornwall Police said all 999 emergency calls would be answered and dealt with as normal.
They said 999 lines should only be used for urgent matters where police assistance was essential to save lives or prevent serious injury.