Built in 1912, the last Steam Ship is docked in Manaus and will return to sail

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Steam Navigation history of the Amazon lies 21 years ago on the island of Caxangá, in the former premises of the shipyard St. John, the most traditional site of Amazonas, founded 86 years ago.
Resting on the sand, as the water of the Negro did not go up this year, the ship Benjamin guard on their deck marks the adventures it was in the heyday of rubber, early 20th century, making trips taking extractive products – the basis of Amazon economy – and passengers in Belém-Rio Branco-Bethlehem path.

Into the boat gives the visitor a feeling that you are entering a scene from an old movie, Fitzcarraldo type, 1982, which took part held in Manaus, Brazil, directed by Werner Herzog and scripted. Further on, the reader will understand why enter the Benjamin – or what’s left of it – refers to the epic Fitzcarraldo, filmed in the Peruvian Amazon.

55 meters from bow to stern, nine meters high and 4 long, Benjamin’s older than the Titanic. It was released to water in 1905, while the ship “that neither God sinking” made the first trip in 1912. Built in the United States, the first steam name “Benjamin” was “Baturité” and was built by order of the shipping company Nicolaus & Company.

Built in the United States, the steam moved the wood would have sailed to Acre to transport the production of rubber was exported from the port of Belém. With the decline of rubber, came navigate the waters of the Amazon Basin, carrying passengers to Tabatinga.

Except for the few historians, almost no one remembers those golden years lived by the steam in the waters of the Rio Negro, Amazon and Solimões. But records of that time resisted the time and are marked on the walls of the cabins, where a plate painted by hand announces a promotional offer in ticket prices: “Manaus / Tabatinga – 30% discount; Tabatinga / Manaus – 50%.”

To cross the gate of the old shipyard St. John in Lawrence Avenue Silva Braga (Modern Manaus) in the company photographer Ricardo Oliveira, who knows what awaits us. “It’s just a picture, because if the guard put us to run we already took the picture,” I advise. But fear evaporates when it comes to meet the entrepreneur Daniel Coutinho, one of the heirs of the yard and our friend of long dates, which manages the old facilities.

Daniel says that the last trip was in 1995. Benjamin came sailing to the waters of the Black River and anchored in Manaus, was held up by a court fight between the heirs of the family Pacheco – Waldemar, Fred and Kathy Pacheco, at the time the owners from the ship.

He came sailing here in 1995, in perfect condition, but the action of time left damage. Metal letters with the name BENJAMIN were stolen, see?” – Daniel points to the remains of the letters, which were tattooed on the hull.

According to Daniel Coutinho, Benjamin vapor is the only of its kind that still exists in the Amazon. Over time, many businessmen visited the steam trying to buy it, but there was never agreement on the price. The sale would only be realized in 2000 when the entrepreneur Amazon Dahilton Cabral disbursed R $ 300,000 and became the new owner of Benjamin. But that’s another story.

Sources: Portos e Navios / CLIPPING

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