Sleepboot (tug boat) Festival 2023

On our last night on the Linge we were helped by a British man living aboard a well-worn boat, traveling with a friend who was towning him as needed. He told us about an event coming up in Vianen, a few hours up the canal and in the direction we were heading. As it turned out it was quite the festival. There were some 150 of these boats, called ‘sleepboot’ in Dutch, who came to Vianen to show off their boats. Almost all the boats have been beautifully restored. They date from the early 1900’s. The ones that old were originally equipped with steam engines. All have been converted to diesel. One we visited had a min-1940’s GM diesel. The owner said there were a lot of GM engines available at that time. (Note: ‘boot’ in Dutch is pronounced as ‘boat’ in English)

These boats are equipped with large engines designed for towing much larger vessels. The earliest ones towed deep water cargo sailing ships. At the beginning they were not equipped with engines so had to be manuevered to dock. These tug boats made that chore much easier in comparison to rowing.

sleepboat 1

Here’s a short video I compiled so you can see the boats in motion, and hear their old engines running. One of them idles at a mere 19 RPM!

The weather was near perfect. The locals and the visitors joined parties and danced to some mighty loud music. Alcohol flowed. I did not smell any marijuana, which is legal if you are a Dutch resident. So many people were coming to the country in large measure for the pot that the legislature was motivated to restrict its availability.

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