Maritime Heritage

Steam Tug Alwyn Vintcent

The Sandstone Heritage Trust website has kindly been hosting the news regarding the future of the Steam Tug Alwyn Vintcent. Indeed the appeal posted on this site which led to its being saved, yet again, this time by the Villiersdorp branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine Club.

For further information on this ambitions project to move a 110Tonne, 100-foot-long Steam Tug 220km to an inland location, please follow the story on (if typing the name in, remember the 't' in Vintcent!).

The Tractor & Engine Club takes this opportunity to thank the Sandstone Heritage Trust for its part in this saga!

Alwyn Vintcent. Removal of Pipework, New Year's Day

With New Year in full swing, just Hermann and I were available to continue with the stripping, and as we went this time with Hermann’s bakkie (ute), we arranged to bring away all the pipes we loosened off last Monday, along with any more we could remove today.

We had dealt with most of the pipes on the port (that’s left, looking forward as I had to insist on Monday!) side so we started on the starboard side. Some of the flanges had been loosened off on previous visits; also Gavin spent some time on board yesterday, loosening off what he could on his own.

In the meantime, Hermann has been able to ‘open’ the CD we were given with all the drawings of the vessel. These are a great help now and will be more so during reassembly.


The cut line is along the deck, just visible as a dotted line.

Alwyn Vintcent. Preparation to Remove Superstructure

A team went to the vessel on Saturday 18th December 2010 to start loosening off pipes which pass between the hull and the superstructure. As nobody had a camera with them, they just planned and loosened bolts off on flanges, but removed nothing. They could report, though, that there was no sign of further nesting on the vessel by the cormorants. The birds were still around, sitting on the floating jetty alongside or swimming nearby.

The next opportunity to visit the vessel was Saturday 27th December. We were just three members, but equipped with marking pens, spanners, sockets, power bars and ratchets, release oil and most importantly, cameras.

Our first surprise was that the top of the mast had come down, rusted away at the base. It brought down the steel forestay, from which our shade netting was hanging, so that was lying loose all over the foredeck.


The fallen top section of the front mast.

Alwyn Vintcent Saved Again for Preservation!

Another piece of good news is that the Steam Tug Alwyn Vintcent has been saved for preservation!

In a move which is set to raise awareness of Preservation in South Africa to a new level, the vessel has been purchased by the Villiersdorp Branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine Club!



Alwyn Vintcent. Planning Session on the Vessel, Saturday 4th December 2010

Keith Wetmore has been negotiating for the last two weeks with the Department of the Environment and SANCCOB (The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) in connection with the removal of the Cormorants on the vessel. He has applied for a permit and it has been granted. It is valid from 3rd to 15th December, so we have to get moving! SANCCOB are the only people authorised to remove the birds and they have been given more than the required one week’s notice, so the plan is to move in and clean the vessel at the same time on Wednesday next week, 8th December.


Alwyn Vintcent. Removal of the Cormorants. Wednesday 8th December 2010

We had been given a permit from the Department of the Environment to remove the cormorants from the vessel, between 4th and 13th December 2010, so we could not afford to waste any time. The actual removal had to be performed by members of SANCCOB, the NGO responsible for Coastal Birds.

8th December suited them so five of us from the Villiersdorp Tractor & Engine club, who now officially own the vessel, took the day off and we set ourselves a busy schedule!

First, we were to help the SANCCOB people remove the chicks and eggs which they will hand rear or hatch. We would help them remove a few nests to investigate for parasites.


Alwyn Vintcent. Villiersdorp Club glves the Green Light!


On Monday evening 30th August, the Villiersdorp Branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine club met for several reasons. First to collect the year’s subs. There’s no Treasurer as such, so this is simply done by putting money down and adding your name to the list. All done on trust, that’s just one of the reasons why there was another reason to gather…. to celebrate winning the Trophy for the Best Small (?) club in the West Cape T&E Club. Small? There were at least 55 people present at the meeting and a long list of apologies! The win was cause to break out the bubbly and to pass the trophy around, starting with the (teetotal) Chairman, Eniel Viljoen!

Alwyn Vintcent, Last Steam Tug, to be Rescued?




Can we stand back and watch this magnificent vessel being cut up for scrap? Today (26th August 2010) we had a meeting on board. Present were the Port Captain, Steven Bentley, Dylan Knott who project-managed the recent cosmetic restoration, Keith Wetmore of Somerset Timbers, who happened to notice the appeal on the Sandstone Heritage Trust website, Tim Delport, also of Somerset Timbers for technical support, Arthur Wilding, well-known steam preservationist, Johannes Uys of Machine Moving & Engineering (MME), Eugene from ALE Heavylift, Malcolm Wetmore of Somerset Timbers and myself, representing Villiersdorp Branch of the West Cape Tractor & Engine club, as well as Steam in Action. 

Urgent Appeal to save Steam Tug Alwyn Vintcent

Steam tug Alwyn Vintcent

The sands of time are fast running out for South Africa's last remaining coal fired steam pilot tug. After years of lay up she was purchased by Australian interests and received an excellent cosmetic refit. However, that was two years ago and she is now deteriorating at a rapid pace. Her Australian owner has disappeared (despite various people attempting to make contact) and the Waterfront is keen to rid itself of the vessel due to its current condition. There were also a few underlying issues as well.