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Narrative by Pamela Syndercombe, sent to me as email, abridged by me. It’s winter in South Africa.
“I set off in my bakkie (small pickup) to watch the progress up the Rooi Hooghter Pass, which one climbs to enter Villiersdorp. The vintage tractors trundled slowly along to gather just outside the village to escort Alwyn Vintcent (AV). They appeared out of the cold early morning mist like pictures from the past.
By 9 o’clock the sun was starting to burn through but it was still cold. Then the ALE truck with the pole for height measuring came past. Police sirens screamed and blue lights flashed before the procession appeared around the first bend. The more intrepid of the vintage cars were there too…shining and more highly polished than the day they came out of the box! The sun shone as it only can on a winter’s day in the Cape amongst the mountains. AV soon appeared, one truck in front and one pushing from behind…and of course braking on the down hills. The tug looked simply enormous at this point. She passed me at the really quite sharp corner where the view was splendid across the deep donga (cutaway caused by erosion). I wiped my eyes blew my nose and joined the queue of vehicles back on the road to Villiersdorp.
All along the road there were little groups of farm workers, their wives and children waving and cheering. Pruning work on the orchards and vineyards came to a stop. The big Dutch Reform Church was ringing its bells and my tears came again. Andy (Andy Selfe, who wrote the narrative in the link that follows.) balanced precariously on a water tower outside the village gave me a wave and later confessed that he had been crying so hard he could hardly see to use his camera. Slowly slowly though the village, the main road lined with watchers….smiles from ear to ear everywhere. Even those who came to grumble still came to watch. All the tractors and vintage cars were leading the old lady. Then home for me to blow my nose again and reflect on the persistence of a few men….which gave me more understanding of and admiration for the character of the farmers in this area.”
Here are fotos and Andy’s account, with great details like abnormal load exits, hugging speed cops, campfire under the tug at night, getting barked at by baboons, and self-described “bunch of crazy farmers” … with references to laager (circle-the-wagons camp), lay-by (rest area) , and hooters (horns). . . . Here’s a glossary. Click here for the AV main site with lots of links and video.
Alwyn Vintcent has moved over the mountains from Cape Town. Credit here goes to Villiersdorp blog, where you can find many many more fotos. Credit also goes to some amazing farmers with a dream and then grit to make it real. I’m just putting up three fotos of the arrival, because they move me.
Here’s a post I did six weeks ago about Alwyn Vintcent.
Again, thanks to Villiersdorp Events for these fotos.
This is the work and play post . . . the real connection is that although we all have to work, an important secret is to enjoy what you do. Imagine this enthusiasm in a co-worker or yourself on Monday morning, whether you’re struggling to finish a group report or
the folks at NYS Marine Highway, now shipping corn–yes–corn–out of Ontario and into the Erie Canal. How long has it been that agricultural commodities have been shipped on the Erie Canal . . . how long have people talked about shipping same on that waterway that revolutionized NYC . . . or international shipping entering the Erie Canal, but Margot (over a half century young) and its crew
doing it! Bravo to the folks at NYS Marine Highway. Click here for lots more fotos of Margot.
South African fotos come compliments of Colin Syndercombe; the Oswego/Erie Canal fotos, . . . Allan and Sally of Sally W, and all the others by Will Van Dorp.
Related: Here’s another ALE job.
Unrelated: The longest marathon swim starts tomorrow morning over 100 miles up the Hudson.
Since I woke up this May morning from a dream about attending a meditation session, the logical choice is to start my day writing a post that reflects upon–well–preservation. Two weeks ago I wrote about the Alwyn Vincent project. To quote the site, “she’s finally out,” and on the steel wheels ‘n rails of a synchrolift.
She was getting her “haircut and a shave” even before she stopped moving. When all logistical arrangements converge, the late 1950s tug will travel over-the-road 60 or so miles to its new life, as a functioning steam tug on a freshwater reservoir.
To support the self-described ’Bunch of Crazy Farmers’ (personified by Andy, in orange below) who now own the tug, the Alwyn website says they “selling space for banners of about 1 metre square, at R5 000 ($US 639.30). The advertisements are mostly in connection with agricultural products and services, partly because everybody knows who are responsible for saving this historic vessel! Partly also, it’s because those are the firms we know, support and can ask!”
I suppose they’d accept US sponsors as well; book your space on the hull! Contact Elma on firstname.lastname@example.org
told some of the story. A sister vessel–New York Central #16–was saved only to end tragically at the Bourne Bridge rotary in Massachusetts, just six years ago.
The late Don Sutherland told of spending the last night aboard #16 . . . I wish I’d recorded his telling that story. I have recorded Norman Brouwer telling the story of buying this pierside house from #16 from the late John J. Witte, and I hope to share details of that project soon.
Not everything can be preserved . . . On Friday I caught Cheyenne –a current Witte (officially DonJon Marine) tug–heading from the East River into the Upper Bay pushing a load of (I believe) fine scrap, chopped up pieces bound for recycling. Just a week ago, Cheyenne was pushing some preserved vintage jets.
Some valuable artifacts might not be saved much longer unless dreams convert into reality and $$; others like Liemba and Yavari seem to live way beyond their expected lifespans in spite of their being out of the spotlight.
Which brings up this part of a dream: Partners in Preservation is dangling cash $US 3 million, and . . .<<<Tug Pegasus (1907) and Waterfront Museum Barge aka Lehigh Valley 79 (1914) have teamed up in a grant application for $$ for preservation work each vessel needs. As a component of the decision-making about who gets the $$, Partners in Preservation have a “socialmedia-meter” running from now until May 21. To help Pegasus and Lehigh Valley 79 register high on this “meter,” you can do two things from wherever on the planet you may be: 1) befriend them on Facebook and get dozens of your friends to befriend them as well, and 2) vote DAILY here. DAILY! Seems like a crazy way to run an election, but . . . that’s social media and in this case, the cause is worthy.>>>
And later this afternoon–1300–1700h I’ll be down on Pier 25 minding the plank between 79 and Pegasus, as part of Partners in Preservation “open house” weekend.
Thanks to Colin Syndercombe for the Cape Town fotos; all others by Will Van Dorp.
Sort of related, here’s a “tale of two projects” post from about a year ago.
I used this title over four years ago here, although in that case, I wrote about a South African vessel in the sixth boro.
I offer this post partly as a study of how ship preservation is happening in another port city on the Atlantic, almost 8000 miles away. South African Railway and Harbours (SAR & H) had Alwyn Vintcent built in Italy in the late 1950s as part of an order of five. Find a brief history here, but basically, she retired in 1983; from 1991 until 2001 she operated as a steam excursion tug in Cape Town. Her future then became uncertain. A farmers group (most of the site is in Afrikaans ) (this one is in English) purchased her in 2010 or 2011 and is now preparing to move her 60+ miles inland for restoration and eventual use on a freshwater reservoir.
To make the trek inland, the superstructure must be cut down to a maximum of 14′ . Stack goes first. See more fotos and English text of this prep-to-trek here.
The trip was sucessful, but later she was scrapped. More fotos of that trek are here.
Part of what sent me on this virtual South African foray was learning yesterday from a reader there named Colin that bark Europa was currently in Cape Town preparing to voyage up to St Malo, and berths were still available. The St. Malo voyage will make stops in Ascension and Azores. More info on 1911 bark Europa here.
May is National Preservation Month.
All fotos used with permission.