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STEAM TUG: Alwyn Vintcent takes to the road

On 28 June the hull, engines and boiler of steam tug Alwyn Vintcent rolled into Villiersdorp from the north after a 408km trip from Cape Town Harbour. The journey, about four times greater than the normal distance, was longer because of the height of the load on the 88-wheel trailer, which was 47m long including the pulling and pushing vehicles. The convoy was preceded for the last few kilometres by a motorcade of veteran cars and tractors hooting their horns as cheering crowds and pealing church bells greeted the vessel.

The historic tug had been bought nearly two years earlier by the Villiersdorp branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine Club to save her from being scrapped. She was built in Venice in 1957 for the South African Railways and Harbours Administration and served in the Port of Mossel Bay for 24 years, towing lighters to and from mail ships which were too big to enter harbour. Her longer rear deck was designed for transferring passengers between the vessels in a wicker basket.

Alwyn Vintcent was last steamed in 1994 and was the last steam vessel on the South African Register of Shipping. After decommissioning, she has been saved from scrapping seven times. Her arrival in Villiersdorp marks the start of a new phase in her career. She will be reassembled and brought back into steaming condition, probably for occasional running on dry land.

Ships Montly - January 2024

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