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Steam Tugboat Ahkera

Constructed in 1871, the steam tugboat Ahkera (”Hard-working; industrious”) is the oldest museum-owned steam tugboat on Lake Saimaa and reportedly in all of Finland. The Ahkera shares some of that history with another venerable vessel docked behind Riihisaari: when the Salama sank in 1898, the Ahkera was there to take on her passengers.

The Ahkera was used to tow floating lumber from the upper Saimaa down to Imatra, Kotka and Vyborg, at times even as far as St Petersburg. The boat changed hands multiple times before being purchased by forestry company Enso-Gutzeit in 1902. They put the Ahkera to work towing timber rafts from Kuopio and Joensuu to the Rutola portage. The Ahkera kept working for Gutzeit until 1958, a relationship commemorated by the white star on the boat’s funnel.

  • Built at the Paul Wahl & Co shipyards in Varkaus in 1871.
  • Length 23.15 m.
  • Width 4.62 m.
  • Speed 11.21 knots.
  • Owner: Ahkera Perinneyhdistys ry.
  • Currently undergoing repairs.

In the early 1970s the boat was brought into drydock and renovated as a museum vessel at Savonlinna’s Laitaatsilta shipyard. In 2002 Enso-Gutzeit’s successor company Stora Enso donated the Ahkera to the city of Savonlinna. In June 2004 the Ahkera docked at Riihisaari, becoming part of Finland’s largest fleet of museum steamers. The history of the Ahkera is intertwined with that of steam schooner Salama, as the tugboat was on the scene to take on many of the schooner’s passengers when she sunk in September 1898.

The steam tugboat Ahkera being brought into drydock, Fall 2013 (YouTube).

The Renovation of the SS Ahkera

In 2013, ownership of the steam tugboat Ahkera passed to a local private association, Ahkera Perinneyhdistys ry. The association has been working to renovate the Ahkera as a functional vessel while preserving its traditional nature and museality, a process that is currently in its final stages. The Ahkera was docked at Riihisaari for the summer of 2022.

The SS Ahkera being set afloat, Summer 2020 (YouTube).
The SS Ahkera leaving Riihisaari, August 2022.