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Help unravel the mystery of an old wooden boat donated to the Durban Maritime Museum decades ago

Published Oct 26, 2021


DURBAN - THE eThekwini Municipality’s Local History Museums are looking for prospective boat collectors to offset an old wooden boat donated to the Durban Maritime Museum decades ago.

The museum department has three weeks to find a home for the 10 metre-long boat stored in a warehouse in Durban.

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EThekwini Municipality museum curator Steve Kotze said there were many hearsay stories as to how the boat arrived in the Durban Harbour.

Kotze said he heard a story that a group of refugees built the boat. The refugees were floating along near the Mozambique channel when a passing ship picked them up.

Kotze said the captain of the ship dropped the boat off at the maritime museum. However, Kotze said proper documentation does not exist to verify the story. With the museum relocating its storage facility, there is no room for the boat.

“The planks and wood are well preserved because it’s been in storage. We have no plans to display it in our facility. We cannot call it an artefact. The boat has a motor on board as well.”

Terry Hutson, from the volunteer group Friends of the Durban Maritime Museum, said he too had heard many stories about the boat. He said a Google search did not reveal any information. Hutson was hoping someone could come forward to enlighten them about the boat.

“It an absolute mystery to us. The stories we hear cannot be taken as fact. If any organisation wants the boat they could have it free of charge,” Hutson said.

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Meanwhile, the 60-year-old minesweeper SAS Durban still remains partially submerged at its mooring alongside the Durban Maritime Museum.

The floating display at the museum took on water at the end of August last year and partially sank in shallow water.

Hutson said a recent meeting deliberated on whether to put the ship on land at the nearby car park as a display or repair it.

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“Both suggestions have proven costly. Alternatively, it would have to be broken up. The ship is not a pollution threat. Environmental impact reports have been done. The ship is deteriorating and we hope to come up with a solution soon.”

The SAS Durban is one of the last surviving “Ton” class minesweepers developed originally for the Royal Navy and later introduced in several navies, including South Africa’s. It was the first naval ship to be built for the SA Navy.

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