Steel built Forrest and Stream skiff now in service carrying passengers


This adapted Forest & Stream skiff built by a bunch of troubled youngsters led by regular Hans-Christian Rieck of the Graf Ship Association is now being used to carry groups of passengers on the canals around Nordhorn in Germany.

These photos were taken by Horst Dudeck on the occasion of a trip by the Neuenhaus Stock Market Club to mark its 25th anniversary.

The story of the Werner Wesemann is remarkable. The original design for a small skiff appeared in the late 19th Century in the journal Forest & Stream. As an experiment in the late 1990s, I decided to draw a slightly enlarged version intended to be built in ply. That boat has been built and used successfully quite a few several times.

However, Hans used the plans in a way no boat designer could have envisaged: he took the drawings and together with a group of troubled youngsters built a scaled-up version of the boat in welded steel. The craft they built is around twice the length of the original.

Now, some years later, the steel skiff boat has been finished, as is in use by the Graf Ship Association, which campaigns to open up the Nordhorn area’s extensive network of canals.

What makes the whole thing a really wonderful surprise is that Hans reports that the Werner Wesemann works beautifully on the water, even when a load of passengers are on board and despite only having a 5hp outboard motor.

Jantje goes back to work – at the zoo

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Jantje on the River Vechte, old church in the background

Manfred at the helm while passing low bridge, note the way the helm is put down passengers boarding Jantje Jantje leaving mooring

a warm welcome with local schnaps at the zoo Jantje a meeting on the lake Jantje on Lake Vechte

Jantje performing ferrying duties on the River Vechte and Lake Vechte – note the handy way Jantje’s tiller is lowered when passing under a low bridge

Jantje has been back to work raising money by helping to carry people to and from a local zoo after a freak summer storm raged through the Duchy of Bentheim causing severe damage and one death.

Regular correspondent Hans-Christian Rieck tells the story of how the tjalk got involved:

‘The zoo near Nordhorn was heavily hit, resulting damages valued at about €500.000. The Graf Ship Association, together with the local tourist board and the donors who enabled us to purchase Jantje, decided to organise a relief service for the zoo’s animals and staff.

‘Within a week we turned Jantje into a temporary passenger ship and even managed to obtain all the legal documents for this purpose from the district administration – this was necessary as the stretch of the  River Vechte that Jantje would need to follow to reach the zoo is normally prohibited for motor vessels.

‘So on Sunday the 15th of August a freight ship cruised the River Vechte upstream of Nordhorn for the first time since 1839.

‘At the end of the day, we collected about €2000 for the zoo – though I think we would have made more money if we had charged all the people who photographed Jantje from the banks of the river! Just €1 for each photo would have made the zoo rich!

‘Nevertheless it was a fine day and the popularity of Jantje increased further, with many people asking us to use her to provide a permanent ferry between the town and zoo. But, as the Graf Ship Association is a registered charity, it’s not possible.

‘By the way, plans to get her rig in working order are well on the way; we are in contact with our local sailing club to get a crew. Next year we will begin trials on Lake Vechte and maybe in 2012 we’ll have her sailing on Jantje’s traditional water, the Ijsselmeer.



Thanks Hans-Christian! I trust your leg is improving after your break some weeks ago.