The Tug Swell: some pictures

by Paul Stenner 2016


Swell (shown steaming south in Moresby Channel). (Photo from the Dane Campbell collection. )

Years ago I was the co–owner of the tug Swell (ON130882). She was built in 1912 in Vancouver BC at the each Avenue Shipyard (Arthur Moscrop). She was renamed as the Nautilus Swell about 2011 and then renamed back to Swell in 2014.

I am now the owner of the forestry patrol vessel Wells Grey.


Swell (showing her towing in Victorai Harhour, Island Tug & Barge days.) (Photo from the Paul Stener collection. )

In 1912 she was owned by Captain George McGregor as the first vessel of the Victoria Tug Co., Victoria BC. In 1913–1949 she was owned by Victoria Tug Co. Ltd., Victoria BC. In 1953–1959 she was owned by Victoria Tug Co. Ltd., Victoria BC. In 1959–1972 she was owned by Island Tug & Barge Ltd., Victoria BC. In 1972–1979 she was owned by Thomas Stockdale, West Vancouver BC. In 1981 she was owned by Island Merchant Marine Ltd., Nanaimo BC. In 1981–1989 she was owned by Westview Dredging Ltd., Powell River BC. In 1990–1997 she was owned by Swell Towing Ltd., Powell River BC. In 1998–2003 she was owned by Swell Towing Ltd., Delta BC. In 2004 she was owned by Big Time Sport Fishing BC Ltd., Nanaimo BC. In 2011–2014 she was owned by Icarus Aviation Ltd., Richmond BC. In 2015–2016 she was owned by Maple Leaf Adventures Corp., Victoria BC.


Swell In Alaska (a painting by the late Robert Genn) (Photo from the Paul Stener collection. )

In 1954 she was rebuilt from deck up at Point Hope Shipyard Victoria BC. In 2005 she was rebuilt to 25.30m x 6.33m x 3.28m 130gt 39rt.


Rendering of the Swell (for her refit in 2005) (Photo from the Alex Spiller collection. )

Originally she had a 18hp steam engine (1912) built by Enterprise Engine & Foundry Co., San Francisco CA. Eventually this engine was replaced by a 400hp Enterprise diesel at Blackball Towing Co. Shipyard (1954).; 275hp engine; 600bhp diesel engine (2004c); 544kw diesel engine (2011c)


The Swell towing barges loaded with limestone from Texada Island and Pea Coal from Nanaimo to Bamberton BC. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )

Robert Frayne

Marine Engineer Robert Frayne serving in the Swell before the Second World War. The Swell hosted a large number of the marine engineers and deck crew from the early half of the Twentieth Century. Marine Engineer Robert Frayne, from Gabriola Island, served in most of the bigger vessels but remembered his time in the Swell with great affection. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )

To quote from this article please cite:

Stenner, Paul (2016) The Tug Swell. 2016.

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