There are not too many steam-powered, wooden-hulled tugboats left in the world that are still capable of operating, but one is Canada’s 225gt Master, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
Completed in 1922 by the Beach Avenue Shipyard in Vancouver, British Columbia, the 85ft by 19.5ft vessel still makes use of her original 1916-built triple-expansion 330hp steam engine, acquired second-hand from the Royal Navy following World War I.
The tug was to be broken up in the late 1950s after being retired from commercial service, but she was acquired by several members of the Western Canada branch of the World Ship Society in 1962 and eventually restored to full operating condition.
Unfortunately, an even older Canadian tug, the 37.8m by 6.8m Sea Lion, is being broken up on Vancouver Island because of her deteriorated condition.
Completed by Charles E. Robertson in Vancouver for G. H. French, the 1905-built wooden-hulled vessel was originally powered by a 600bhp triple-expansion steam engine, but this was replaced by an 800hp Enterprise diesel in 1952.
Converted into a private yacht in the 1970s, and then used as a charter vessel, the vessel has suffered from lack of maintenance over the past several years and could no longer be economically restored or kept afloat.
Main photo: The 1922-built steam-powered tug Master, now operated by the SS Master Society, is celebrating its centenary this year. (SS Master Soc)
Report and photo by Jim Shaw