June 2002:
Lake Constance Paddle Steamer Hohentwiel

June 2002:
Lake Constance Paddle Steamer Hohentwiel

The paddle steamer Hohentwiel arriving at Sipplingen on Lake Constance on 12 May 2002.

Hohentwiel was built in 1913 for the services from Friedrichshafen of the Koniglich Wurttembergische Dampfschiffahrt (Royal Wurrtemberg Steamship Co). Her builders were the Swiss Escher Wyss Company of Zurich which also constructed the paddle steamer Gallia for Lake Lucerne in the same year and the paddler steamers Stadt Rapperswill for Lake Zurich and Lotschberg for Lake Brienz the following year.

After the First World War Hohentwiel passed into the ownership of the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German State Railway) and in 1934 she was modernised and given an additional saloon on the foredeck and a raised bridge as shown in the photograph above.

Returning to service after the Second World War initially for the Sudwestdeutschen Eisenbahn (South West German Railway) and subsequently for the Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railway), Hohentwiel continued to operate on the lake until 1962 when she was withdrawn to start a new static life as a sailing club headquarters at Bregenz.

This career came to an end in 1979 and after several years of discussion about her future, subsequent planning and fundraising, work started on her restoration in 1986. She returned to service in 1990 as an Austrian ship with Kapt Reinhard Kloser as captain and driving force behind the operation and she has since operated a programme of private charters and a selection of public sailings each season.

The standard of restoration and the subsequent continued maintenance of the ship has been of the highest order and I can honestly say that I have never ever sailed on any ship as completely immaculate as the Hohentwiel.

The traditional looking telegraph is in fact electrically operated and the high tech controls for the hydraulic electric steering etc. are concealed in the perfectly varnished box.

If you look closely on its forward side, you can just make out the buttons for switching on the electric telegraph.

The varnished seats and decks serve an additional role as mirrors for use when combing your hair.

Lovely polished brass around the ventilating cowls.

Looking aft at the “half” saloon windows. Building the aft saloon midway between the bottom of the ship and the main deck aft was at one stage fairly common but it is now quite rare to find a paddle steamer of this design.

The sumptuous main dining saloon which serves delicious meals of a very high standard.

A view from the bow.

Hohentwiel is a truly international paddle steamer making calls at piers and harbours around Lake Constance in Germany, Austria and Switzerland enabling her to tap into the lucrative charter market of wealthy parts of three different countries. Sailing aboard her is more like travelling on a luxury yacht than an excursion vessel and a cruise is highly recommended. For more details about.

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.

John Megoran

John Megoran