Ship's log 2008

(the) Past matters....


It does not happen quite often that all volunteers of the steam tug Hercules are assembling simultaneously, but early January everbody tries to come aboard to give one's New Years greetings in person.

This annual meeting was a perfect opportunity to undertake something together and to accept the invitation of our main sponsor “Ketel 1” for a visit to the nearby brand new windmill “De Nolet” and the genever distillery. A report of a surprisingly special and successful afternoon…


The boiler is surveyed this month. Although an official boiler survey is not required this year (that’s every two years), the boiler is tested and cleaned anyway.

Also steps were undertaken to reproduce the original construction plans of which some were dated from 1909(!). A few years back copies of the “Fremad2” were asked for at the Danish national archives. Eventually, these will not resist the ravages of times. With thanks to Steve Dampier the plans have been digitized and can be checked out in one of the photo albums.


The carpentry jobs are progressing continuously: the new stair to the crew’s quarter aft has been varnished already, dries smoothly on board of the “Heibok4” and will soon be placed in its position. Meantime the bulwark stairs on port side and starboard side have been  renewed as well (good job, Peet!) and the Hercules is more or less ready to receive visitors.



Hercules has its own paper model. Its scale is 1:100, a real challenge!

Meanwhile old crafts are re-established aboard: for many hours the sound of hammers riveting away could be heard. The hatch in the steering cabin has been sealed all over and it's bound to last for another 100 years!




It's all about riveting at the moment. The impassioned efforts have been captured in digital frames. Two movies show how craftmanship is pursued. It may not be quite the way it was carried out in the old days, but it took some old fashioned muscle power nevertheless!



Even though the 'travel season' started last month at 'Dordt in Stoom', there always remains work to be done: a new toilet seat was installed, as the old one was not quite waterproof anymore... (maybe the riveting took a wrong turn somewhere?!!)

Over 12 ton of coals has been loaded and the watertanks are filled up with 6 tons. The Hercules regains some of her solid elegance and balance (check out the picture)!

Also the checkered wooden aft deck panels have been refurbished to a shining quality...


A special trip to open sea, mixed feelings underway. It's not often that someone's last wish is to have his ashes scattered across the North Sea. A job of honour, fulfilled respectfully by the Hercules and her crew. Of course such a wish can not be met easily: the harbour authorities have to be notified.

Normally the flag goes at half-mast, but in this case, the deceased had requested otherwise. The ashes are scattered at starboard side, some flowers follow. Then the boat circles the spot and the wisthle goes 3 times...


An event that caused all of the New Waterway from the 'Lage Licht' to far beyond Rotterdam to hold its breath for nearly a day: the Steam Ship Rotterdam, flag ship of the 'Holland Amerika Lijn' returned to her original home port on August 4. It was nostalgia all over, people remembering the ship's launching in 1959. There was an enormous crowd then, assembled at the 'Hoofd' in Schiedam, right opposite the RDM yard. And again people had come out in great numbers to admire the ship's splendor: in a gentle pace of 3 knots, she was being towed by tugs Magic and Spirit. Some ships were accompanying the ship, of course the Hercules was present as well!


Fresh air comes into the engine room via two ventilation shafts . The shafts can be rotated, to 'catch' more air, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

The current ventilation shafts are clearly too short for comfort and not quite practical. The inlet should be higher than the roof top of the pilot house. Which is not the case for the Hercules. Not by far! That's why we are seeking


who can construct some new ventilation shafts, maybe as a work assignment for school. We have an example shaft, taken from the Furie, that gives an idea of the peening and rivoting that is needed.

Can you help or do you have a suggestion? We'd like to get in touch.




Willem is invisible most of the time, taking care of the compound machine below deck. But occasionally, he plucks up courage, and climbs up to have a look at things from a different perspective.

In between voyages the chimney needs protection from incoming rain . Fortunately, Willem's point of view changes often enough to take care of the job right away by putting a lid on top.



On November 15th, Saint Nicholas and his dark helpers are safely dropped off in Vlaardingen by a Hercules in disguise.

While the over 1700 year old Saint is surrounded by an excited crowd and continues his journey on horse-back to meet the mayor at the city's town hall, the Hercules quietly moves out.


With the end of the year in sight, we are taking some time to look back at a busy year with a lot of achievements. But instead of the familiar jingle of Christmas bells, we hear quite another sound in our home port. The crew and volunteers of the foundation SCW just can not stop fidgeting.

They are riveting again, to enhance the rafters of the Heibok 4. Check out the video, with thanks to Dennis (and the riveters of course)!

Plans are being made for the coming year. Boiler survey is on its way and numerous jobs are listed. In 2009 again everything is being done to keep the Hercules and Heibok 4 shipshape to be enjoyed by all steam lovers!

Merry Christmas and a happy 2009!