The age of steam is long past but not forgotten. One example of a classic steam-driven vessel is Hidria Segundo, a ship that once carried potable water to the isolated towns on the coast of northwestern Spain in Galicia.
Today, this fully restored ship has joined the tourist trade. She still relies on her steam engine, along with the sails on her two masts.
The 101-foot Hidria Segundo was rescued by the society that she spawned. Vapores del Atlantico came to be in 1997 when it purchased the ship, after she had become little more than a wreck on a beach. Through fundraising and a concerted effort by hundreds of dedicated individuals, the restoration, which took nine years, brought the ship back to life. Today, she is not only seaworthy; she is rated for passenger traffic. Most recently, she has been operating along the Spanish coast in the Mediterranean.
Hidria Segundo’s engine is a key part of the vessel’s story because it was the power plant from the the original Hydria built in Valencia in 1901. By the 1960s, diesels dominated the marine propulsion market, but the triple expansion steam engine was the only part of the original ship that made it to the second–which was built in 1966. The eight-foot tall, 177 hp engine allows the 165 ton vessel to cruise at seven knots and carry 120 passengers.
Hydria Segundo’s restoration was comprehensive. New planks, frames and deck were installed. Her water and diesel tanks were replaced and a new wheelhouse and hatch were built. Below decks, her cargo hold was replaced by a passenger space including a library and lounge. All new systems were added including plumbing, electrical and fire suppression systems. Her sea trial included stability tests with the steam engine running at full throttle.
Since 2005, Hidria Segundo has been participating in numerous maritime festivals and parades in France and Spain with just a crew of four, who sometimes dress in period costumes. In 2008, the ship participated in tall ship festivities near Brest, France and not only was she the largest vessel in the Galician fleet, she was the only one to arrive on her own bottom. The stately ship has been featured in the book “Los Ultimos Grandes Veleros Espanoles” (The Last Great Spanish Tallships) with a story on her history and complete restoration. She also has her own Facebook page and YouTube video:
Today, Hidria Segundo is based near Alicante, Spain and is for sale. With all the hard work already done, this treasure could continue as a business… or she might perhaps be converted to a phenomenal liveaboard to cruise Europe.