Seen here sitting on her moorings just outside Como in early July 2002, the Bat Spaz is probably one of Europe’s most unusual paddlers. Her main task is weed clearance from shallow water which she does using her capacious mouth lowered down onto and dredged along the bed of the lake to scoop up the offending plants.
Some may describe her as the ugliest paddler ever built but I rather like her workaday charm and the fact that the paddle wheel still has a central role in shallow weed infested waters where the more modern propeller easily becomes fouled.
I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend a trip to Como specially to see her but if you are there for a cruise on the beautiful excursion paddle steamer Concordia (which this July and August is making regular trips on Thursdays leaving Como at 12 noon back just before 7pm) then keep your eyes open for the Bat Spaz flapping about the lake gorging herself on her vegetarian diet or just resting quietly on her moorings between meals.
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.