She’s a 1925 tug built in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The same town that is known for its Newcastle beer was, at one time, a prime manufacturing location of W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd’s shipbuilding operations, and where the unique and beautiful timber tug Bertha was built.
Unlike other timber tugs, Bertha was 80 feet long, built with a flat bottom, and was fitted with winches so she could haul herself over land between creeks. She was one of only four tugs (all named after 4 sisters) built in this style that traveled to Newfoundland, Canada to work and was the only one that was shipped to the East Coast of Canada completely assembled. With stunning lines and tough riveted steel construction, she remained a working tug in Newfoundland for decades sending lumber back to the UK.
Bertha worked for nearly 50 years hauling timber in Deer Lake, Newfoundland. Her name was changed from Bertha to Deer Lake in 1949 when Newfoundland joined Canada. After this period, she was used for a variety of different uses including building wharves and was even known to have hosted a play. She was then left on a beach, with a large hole in her side. Some time later, she was rescued and taken to Toronto where she worked as an excursion vessel. And again, some time later, was left leaking and sinking into the mud in Lake Erie.
In 1996, she was bought by Wally Pennell. He had known the boat growing up in Deer Lake and long admired her. Wally made some repairs to the tugboat and then brought Deer Lake back to Newfoundland where she participated in coastal celebrations for the 500-year anniversary of John Cabot’s arrival in Newfoundland. With significant expense and upkeep, Wally decided to sell the boat.
In1999, Darren Vigilant, an industrial designer and metal fabricator from New York City, bought her, changed her name back to her original name, Bertha, and started his journey of restoration.
Read Darren’s Bio here.