Dutch Barge Steilsteven

  • straight prow
  • spherical barge-butt
  • deckhouse for rudder
  • light construction
  • round bilges
  • sometimes broken prow
  • swept stern
  • baking deck pavilion
  • stretched ship
  • heavy lifting gear

The origin of the steilsteven can be found in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands, with its many canals in the peat area. The Groninger as a person is naturally a bit frugal, so that the ships built there are always a bit lean. Because the tjalk is a fairly difficult type of ship to build, the steilsteven, a barge with a straight motor stern, arose when there was a need for a cheaper ship to build. Another name for the steilsteven is sailing barge, a somewhat strange name in itself, since there are of course enough barges built that are able to sail. We also find the name Groninger steilsteven barge in use for the steilsteven. It is therefore due to the fact that the skippers did not really think it was a ship that the designation steilsteven has won it as a name. During the construction of the steilsteven, special attention was paid to the dimensions of the locks and canals in this part of the country. A varying load capacity is usually found here, ranging from 80 to 120 tons, although similar vessels up to 150 tons and larger were later built.

The steilsteven is quite shallow and is elongated in shape. The deckhouse on the aft deck has windows on both sides, and the entrance is on the right, according to Groninger custom. The sleeping places can be found under the aft deck and in the front. The guardrail runs to the front of the deckhouse; from there a pine set edge runs to the rigging. In front of the rigging is the nameplate. Later the setting board was replaced by stanchions and a chain. The rudder has the same shape as a tjalk. Steilstevens often have iron leeboards. Very early examples do not have a anchor hole for the anchor chain; later we see one anchor hole (they always seemed a bit cross-eyed).

Due to the barge shape of the stern, the steilsteven had to be trimmed forward in connection with the release of the water (if a clog went overboard, you could pick it up again in the evening). Due to its light construction, the steilsteven can take about 20 tons more than a Luxe Motor.
The origin of the steilsteven lies in Groningen, the Netherlands. As the name implies, the ship has a straight prow, but the stern of a barge. The bulwark is upright and falls slightly inwards at the stern, but not nearly as strongly as with a tjalk.

Specially made for the peat canals, the steilsteven was used to transport everything that could be obtained. In the beginning there was of course a lot of walking in line or hunting with the horse. The steel leeboards are less suitable for sailing. The smaller ones therefore had a small rigging - really only suitable for sailing downwind and with half wind. The mast and boom were used a lot for loading and unloading. The German steilsteven were often equipped with spreader and spritsail. The steilsteven is often confused with the stevenaak barge, which has a different shape and was mainly built of wood. Both for freight transport and charter shipping, there are still steilstevens in the shipping industry.

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