From "Bob D" South Africa

"I was the Marine Radio Technician at Mossel Bay during 1958 when the Alwyn Vintcent arrived (named after the chairman of the Mossel Bay Boating Company).

I can remember standing at the end of the jetty with a couple of interested people as the tug arrived alongside.

As mentioned my part to play was maintaining the radar and radio. The radar was a Decca 220? which used valves (remember the vacuum tube glass valves) and the Radio (R/T equipment as we called it) also with valves. Thinking back transistors were still in the embryo stage. The Vintcent would sail to Port Elizabeth once a year for a month for her annual overhaul and her sister from PE the William Weller would relieve her for the period. It was during one of these overhaul trips that she collided with a ships overhang? in PE and damaged her wheelhouse. Of course true to the old SAR traditions they built an exact replica of the the wheel house. When she came back one could hardly tell the difference. Only her mast was slightly changed compared to her sister tugs. There were five coal burning Pilot tugs built in Italy: Alwyn Vincent, William Weller, J E Eaglesham, S J Harrison and Cecil G White.

I have fond memories of the Alwyn Vintcent. I always thought it had the most under used single triple expansion steam engines that I have ever known. Once a fortnight a Union Castle mailships called at MSB and anchored in the bay. The Vintcent would tow the lighters out in the morning and bring them them back again before the ship left. Her deck was specially designed for the basket that was used for transshipping passengers between the ship and the tug, of this I have personal experience. Also later when they built the oil terminal near Hartenbos she would together with the Korhaan berth the Oil tanker. This was something like once a month.

I moved to PE in 1974 and after retiring in 1993, Marie and I went to Cape Town and I was so glad the see the Alwyn Vintcent at the Waterfront, but was so disappointed to hear that her steam engine had been replaced by a diesel engine. Sacrilege, absolute sacrilege.

If memory serves me right she and one or other sister tugs were sold to somebody in Oz years ago but they could not make it due to the coal problems??.

I used to go on board every Friday morning and top up her radio battery which was housed in a lead lined box on top of the wheelhouse. And of course everytime they had a radio or radar problem I was also responsible for taking out the Valve radio equipment and replacing it with the VHF equipment. This used transistors in the receiver but still valves in the transmitter. The radar was also replaced after I left MSB for PE.

Another thing that I remember well was that she also did cruises around Seal island for the tourists in her early years. I remember it was very inexpensive, until (I heard at the time?) someone started wondering what will happen if someone gets hurt and wants to sue. That put an end to that part and the private boat owners took over at a very much higher price.

I knew her from 1958 to 1974. Rather there and survive, than the possible cutters torch here.

To refresh my memory on tug names I have referred to David Reynolds book, A Century of South African Steam Tugs.


Bob D"