On the waves of the Tisa: A historical view of the past of the city of Novi Bečej

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Little Boat

Little Boat

The small boat, known as "Mala lađica" by the people of Novi Bečej and Bečej, was a vessel named "Jelena," owned by Jozef Švejcer and Mladen Krstonošić. It was acquired in Slavonski Brod in the 1930s. Its future owners found it there as the wreckage of a dilapidated yacht owned by a Dutchman. They towed it to our port and converted it into a tugboat. The boat was given the name "Bačka" and, under that name, performed tugboat operations along the rivers and waterways of Vojvodina and beyond, until the beginning of World War II. During the occupation, the Tisa River served as a border, and there was no passenger traffic on it, while freight traffic was difficult.

As the German army withdrew from Novi Bečej, they mined the tugboat "Bačka," which was moored to the shore and sank. The owners quickly learned about it and started salvaging the boat. After some repairs over a month or two, the boat underwent changes and was ready for navigation. According to certain maritime and river rules, a boat that has sunk once should not sail again under its old name. Adhering to this, the crew renamed it "Jelena" (the wife of Mladen Krstonošić and the daughter of Jozef Švejcer was named Jelena).

From the beginning of the navigation season in 1945, a so-called "derelict," where passengers were accommodated, was attached to the right side of "Jelena." Thus, the tugboat transformed into a passenger boat. "Jelena" operated as part of the "Brotraz" company from 1946 until 1962 and then as part of the "Pristrans" company, headquartered in Bečej, from 1962 to 1967.

The small boat was powered by a 32 HP engine running on gasoline. In 1965-1966, a tractor engine from "Hanomag," running on diesel fuel, was installed.

Repairs and maintenance of the boat were mostly carried out by Jozef Švejcer, often with the assistance of the machine workshop of Jozef Andre and his son Sándor. After the establishment of the shipyard "Tisa" in 1957, they took over the maintenance of "Jelena."

The transportation of passengers by the little boat ceased in 1967 when more regular bus transportation between the two Bečejs was established.

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