Days of Yore
100 years under steam and still humming
Wim van de Perk and Hans Lemmens of the Jan de Sterke Foundation are proud of their centennial tug. Van de Perk: “I think it’s cool to be able to tell the public the story of your boat. And, of course, people are always curious.” Strong John is a sought-after attraction at water, port and boat events. Perk and Lemmens take her to festivities over the Netherlands and Germany.
Lemmens: “It’s like a 1920s car. That, too, works totally differently than today’s automobiles. We have to make engine parts for our boat by hand because they are no longer available. Sailing a steam boat is tricky. The coal for instance must be fed judiciously, in measured quantities. The engine must be oiled often.”
The tug is a floating monument. She began life as Snel (Fast) and has also been known as Mariette and Hendrina II. As Mariette she was a tug for more than 30 years in Belgium and home to a family of 5. Later she returned to the Netherlands. Van de Perk and Lemmens count on corporate sponsorship to keep their tug afloat and humming. Maintenance is time consuming. Every Tuesday is fix-it day. That’s what got her to the ripe old age of 100