From Nigel B (Vancouver Canada)

Hello all

I am also delighted that this vessel has found a new home.

I must point out that the smaller tugs of the SAR & H fleet such as the SG Stephens, RA Leigh and the sisters of Alwyn Vincent, the Cecil G. White, SJ Harrison, JE Eaglesham and the William Weller were, after the introduction of the diesel powered pilot boats, used as ship assist tugs for smaller vessels and only occasionally filled in as pilot cutters when the regular vessels went out of service for maintenance.

As Les pointed out, the larger steam tugs were designed and equipped for ocean towage and salvage work; to a lesser extent the first batches of tractor tugs were also similarly equipped although they were not good sea boats.

For this reason, those wishing to join the Harbour Service as Deck Officers were required to have a Master' Foreign Going Certificate; and for Engineers, a Chief Engineers ticket and this requirement lasted well into the late 80's. Quite what the qualification is now, I am not sure.

The smaller tugs such as the Alwyn Vincent required a Master Home Trade were crewed differently to the bigger tugs.

The Harbour Service provided a golden opportunity for those of us deep sea mariners sailing with such companies as Safmarine, Union Castle and Clan Line to come ashore and still be able to work in a marine environment; the job and working environment that the Service provided was excellent.

For those that wanted to get on and move up the ladder, coming ashore as soon as possible after obtaining a Master's Ticket was essential. Tugs carried a Master and a Mate and after joining, deck officers started their career as a "spare" mate filling in as required for anything up to five years depending on the port; then mate assigned to one particular tug for another five year period before becoming a "spare" Master and finally permanent Master. After that, it was question of waiting for a Junior Pilots job.

Progression could be accelerated if you were willing to take postings to such places as Walvis Bay or be willing to move around the country. Crews were large by today’s standards, two deck officers, two engineering officers, a bosun and five ABs, two greasers and a messman.

Hope this is of interest,