The Alwyn Vintcent, a 50-year-old classic steam-powered tugboat which has been languishing at its moorings in the V&A Waterfront for the past 15 years, might be cut up for scrap – or perhaps used for target practice by the SA Navy – unless someone witha bit of heart, nous and cash can be found to save it.
The tug was bought by the South African Cultural History Museum in 1988. She was restored put to work carrying passengers around Table Bay. It was great idea and people flocked to to drift around the harbour on a steamship.
But steam tugs are expensive to run and the museum didn’t have the budget. In 1994, she was handed over to a private company and converted to diesel power which entirely stripped all the magic out of the experience and sent the punters running. The operation closed in 2000 and the tug went back to the museum.
“Back” is a misleading word, though. She has, in fact, been lying at anchor at the Waterfront, used mostly as a perch for seabirds. In 2008, the museum agreed to sell her to Australian interests and an extensive restoration followed. But the new owner has apparently suffered a stroke, and once more the tug sits in Cape Town, defiled by birds and loathed by developers.
Now the V&A Waterfront wants her removed. They apparently have a scrap dealer standing by. In the past, decommissioned ships have also been towed out to sea by the SA Navy and sunk by gunfire.
As one of few steam tugs left in the world, and the only one in South Africa with any hope of running under her own power, the Alwyn Vintcent is a potential tourist attraction of world repute. It’s in exactly the right place – the Waterfront (which is so often touted as being a “working harbour”), where thousands of tourists wander around all day, ruminating about what to spend their forex on. How about a steam tug ride, then, me lovely?
She is a potential gift to any smart tourism operator. But, the clock is ticking. Any takers?
How much will it cost to buy her? (or is Alwyn a him?)
She has a boiler and a team engine, true, but in recent years as a tourist attraction she was propelled by a diesel engine neatly hidden away from public view.
Hugh Ware, editor, TugBitts magazine
Nice to hear from you. Now, surely an operating steam tug would be much more of an atraction than a diesel boat? The latter are a dime a dozen in Cape Town, anyway.
Sunday Times Travel & Food is going to explore the story further.
Keeping boats is a bit like owning racehorses – expensive. Wise people say if it floats or flies, rent it. That said, there’s no reason why a little public money could be spent getting the tug running again – it would be a potentially valuable attraction for the city.
I have just noticed the story re the “Alwyn Vintcent”.
As the owner of the Alwyn, and would be more than happy to clarify should there be any questions.
The website is being upgraded, etc.
Hello, Gordon, good to hear from you, and I hope you are recovering.
What’s the latest on the tug, then? Is she going to Oz as planned?
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Yes, the little tug is going to Oz as planned. Additional people have been employed and shortly, sooner rather than later things will happening in RSA. Will keep updated. Cheers. Gordon
Well, we’ll be sad to see her go, but at least she will be safe from scrappers and saved for the future.
Gordon, How are things progressing?? It appears you have been conning a few more people along elsewhere in the world too!!
This man is not to be believed. He is full of hot air.
I, Charles Roux, am also one of the people that Gordon has conned!! I restored the Alwyn with my three crew members. To be a proud lady waiting to be shipped to Oz as planned. Yes, Gordon owes me and numerous contractors in Cape Town large sums of money………Read more about the restoration on the website steam in action newsletter no 23.
I am saddened to hear you have been treated this way by Gordon Bashford.
I am not sure of the truth in regards to his ownership of Alwyn Vintcent. Does he actually own her or not?
I believe he made some outlandish claims of having been responsible for saving the Falls of Clyde, Since found to be totally untrue.
The Cape Don society in Australia have also been victims of his fanciful stories of salvage tugs and more.
I do hope you get your money.
aye! Old Salt
Old Salt. Charles and I both worked on the vessel. He does own the vessel but plans to ship it to Australia have stalled. So the truth is being revealed, interesting!
Hello Charles, I think we have met on board of the tug and I showed you the Bark Europa on which I worked from april until september 2008. I would like to get in contact with you:johan.schuilenburgatgmail.com
We also dealt with a Kris Mitchell. Who is he?
Mendi, I was working on the refit of the Bark Europa for six months while it was in the docks near the Alwyn in April 2008.I was showed around the tug and showed him the Europa,I think it was to Charles. Anyway,I would like to get in contact with one of you guys.
Lets see how far the ball rolls now? It is time Gordon comes to the party with some truths.
No I have not heard of Kris Mitchell. Was he in Australia or over in Sth Africa?
What was his involvement?
Aye Old salt
Australia. Gordon’s 2IC or something like that.
Seems negotiations are ongoing between waterfront and Mr. Bashford. The question remains will the contractors receive their payment before or if the vessel leaves CT?
Gordon Bashford,what is your plan with this beauty?If you don’t want her I do!!She is getting more ruined day by day and this is just not acceptable and very sad.