If you only knew, my beloved seafarers, where I’m writing from… A dream, so many sea books and a model Viking boat. I’m in the secret lounge of the imperial steam-tug “Frederic Mistral”, currently moored in Wien!
Clodia is quietly sleeping next to it. I can hear the Danube water since I’m about three quarters below its level. I have the rare privilege to work inside this historical gem, a cat purring on my knees.
Smell of old boat. Humid and cold but I feel great.
This museum piece, built in 1914, at first glance looks like a normal tugboat but beyond the appearance… Its story is fascinating: 26 metres long by 5 wide, draught 1.80, steam engine with max speed of 14 knots.
It was used for tugging but also to control the waterways, hosting aboard a very special guest: No less than Franz Joseph, the emperor.
From the portholes below-deck, surrounded by a sober luxury, he could take a look to the river banks and enjoy a quiet navigation, unnoticed. His cabin is simple and small, so distant to those built on the yacht of nowadays “nouveaux riches”!! The emperor, at the time one of the mightiest man on earth, travelled aboard a tugboat, in a 2 by 1,5 metres cabin with a half bunk-bed. Now that’s class. (more…)