One of the great values of travel is education
In this case, history and trade education.
When we arrived into the center of the port area in Tarbert, it was impossible not to see and smell the vintage ship on the right side of the harbor. Our curiosity got the best of us and we decided to head over for a closer look. Pulling up in the parking area next to the ship, Kenny walked up for a closer look.
There was a little plaque on the side of the wheelhouse that said, “Puffin Preservation Society”. Sitting on a bench in the stern of the boat was a friendly crew member happy to share some information. Turns out, this was the last coal-fired Clyde Puffer still in active service. This was the VIN 32.
Built in 1943, it was one of many Clyde Puffers to ply the coasts, ports, and lochs of Scotland. Built as a small cargo ship that could fit in and get through the 80 foot locks, it served a valuable purpose during both World War I and World War II. Eventually, most of the puffers were converted to diesel.
These days, this boat travels from port to port with a crew and passengers throughout Western Scotland visiting various ports. The passengers assist with shoveling coal into the boiler and get to see Scotland from its a fresh vantage point, if you don’t count the billowing smoke. Can you even imagine a port town with dozens of these plying its waters.