Steam tug FURIE: The lady turns 100!
The Dutch National Towage Museum of Maassluis in Holland celebrated this fact in 2016 with a new exhibition dedicated to the working life and museum period of this last remaining seagoing steam tug of the Netherlands. The new exchange exhibition opened on September 24th 2016. This show gave a wide overview of the building, working life of the tug, the TV series in which it figured and her life as sailing heritage museum. Her owner, the Foundation Dutch Glory, has not only preserved the tug but has always been keen to obtain photos and information about the ship and her history. All this is now was on display at the National Towage Museum of the Netherlands with unique photographs, films, documents and special objects. The celebrated tug herself is moored in front of the museum. The opening of the exchange exhibition was the start of a number of events to celebrate the 100st anniversary of the FURIE. The highlight of festivities was the Furieade festival on October 1st and 2nd 2016 in Maassluis.
In the year 1916, in Holland, by newbuilding shipyard Bodewes, two steam tugs were launched. One of these, the GEBROEDERS BODEWES VI (in English: Brothers Bodewes VI), was after a long career in Sweden to return to the Netherlands for a unique second life. A Dutch television Network, AVRO, required an authentic Dutch steam tug for the film version of the famous book ‘Captain Jan’ by Jan de Hartog. An intensive international search resulted in only one, but perfect, candidate – in Sweden. That was the tug HOLMVIK (Swedish for Island Bay) and she would be the star in the 1978 tv series ‘Dutch Glory’. The GEBROEDERS BODEWES VI was part of a series of almost sister ships that were built on the shipyard's own account and risk during the First World War. Building started in 1915 and in 1916 the ship was available for sale. The ship was of a simple but proven design and build to high standards. The original lay-out featured only one mast, no deckhouse and only a small wheelhouse. The main accommodation was aft below decks. It lasted until 1918 before an export license could be obtained and in March of that year with ‘SVERIGE’ painted on the sides to evidence neutrality as a safeguard against attacks on the tug, now called ‘HOLMEN III (het eiland) undertook the voyage from the Netherlands to Sweden. A major conversion already took place in 1920 when a deckhouse ("walegang") on the sides and a much larger wheelhouse were added in view of the harsher weather conditions on the Baltic Sea. Her new owner was a Swedish paper mill that obtained tree logs higher up in the Baltic Sea. The logs would be chained together into floats up to 9000 m3 and the task of the HOLMEN III was to tow these to the factory in Norrkoping. For certain a slow passage with just 450 ihp engine power. With the exception of the Second World War, when the tug was requisitioned by the Swedish Navy, the HOLMEN III towed those log floats until 1976. As from 1969 in ownership of her last captain as HOLMVIK.
Originally, the television network contemplated just to hire the tug for a few months but captain Akerlund was only willing to sell the tug. And so the network bought the vintage tug and she sailed under the command of the later harbour master of Amsterdam and a volunteer crew to IJmuiden in the Netherlands. After a small conversion, during which modern features like radar were removed and to make it possible to feature as two different tugs at the same time (FURIE and JAN VAN GENT), the FURIE was towed to Bantry Bay in Ireland by Smit International for filming and afterwards towed back to Holland by Wijsmuller.
With the series still being showed on television, a group of towage enthousiasts in Maassluis, The Netherlands, former home port of Smit, were wondering about the future of the unique tug. Quick action resulted in sufficient funds to salvage the tug from the breakers and the municipality of Maassluis provided a prominent berth in front of former 16th century town hall, now residence of the National Dutch Towage Museum. In 1980 the refit was completed to the extent that the FURIE was able to sail again under own steam. This milestone was celebrated with a big maritime event in Maassluis during which key actor Hugo Metsers stood one more time as captain Jan Wandelaar on the bridge of ‘his’ tug. The event was such a success that since then, every year this Maritime event with vintage tugs and other historic craft is held in Maassluis.
Nothing or nobody reaches that age care free. After obtaining ownership of the tug in 1978, the foundation ‘Hollands Glorie’ painstakingly and successfully restored and conserved the FURIE so that she now has an official status as operational museum. The volunteers ensure that the old lady remains fully certified to be able to sail under own steam for many years to come. Major maintenance projects were the boiler tube refit of the still original boiler and complete overhaul of the main steam engine. Frequently the tug takes part in maritime events in Holland which is a reward for the volunteers and a joy for visitors and paying guests. Tranquillity on deck and heat, hissing of steam and a reciprocating steam engine in the engine room below.
National Dutch Towage Museum.
The goal of the Dutch National Towage Museum is to preserve and to display to a wide public the history of the Dutch towage industry, the people who worked in the industry on board and ashore with past or present day companies, at sea or on inland waters, by means of two exchange exhibitions per year and a permanent exhibition. The museum has a large collection of models, photographs, artefacts, library and documents.