Even the blueprints of the first steamboat off teh Balaton were lost, still, the wheels of Kisfaludy will turn again by this summer. The boat was remodelled on the basis of a scale-model, and will soon be relaunched in Balatonfüred.
Széchenyi and the Clones - Rebuilding the First Steamboat of Lake Balaton
In Siófokon, beside M7's bridge over Sió Channel, behind the malls in the once flourishing Kiliti boatyard, a really big boat is being painted and welded. You can catch a glimpse of the grey hull - a rare sight - when passing by car or by bike on the Sió-side bike path.
One of the top boats of the Balaton, the Kisfaludy steamboat is renovated in Siófok. The original Kisfaludy was the first steamboat and the first regular boat service on Lake Balaton.
The original Kisfaludy, launched in 1846, was built of wood; it received an iron hull in 1869 and continued to cruise the Balaton until 1887. Since, even its original blueprints have disappeared. Thus, similar to the dinasours of Jurassic Park, the reconstructed copy of Kisfaludy was 'cloned' from a surviving scale-model.
The new hull was assemled in Szeged. The construction will be completed in Alsóörs and the boat will step into service in Balatonfüred this summer. Just like its original, which received its steam engine from England and was assembled in Balatonfüred at a time when there were no shipyards around. It was Count István Széchenyi to smash the champagne bottle against its side on 21 September 1846, on his 55th birthday. The Count's birthday, that is.
There will be no steam engine in the new Kisfaludy, it will be powered by dieasel and electric engines, but its side-wheels will turn just like they did back when the boat transported Count Széchenyi, the guests of Balatonfüred nights, or the war prisoners of the Revolution of 1848.
The new boat will hold 100 passengers, and will be suitable for pleasure cruises and events both. Inside, it will also house a miniature museum, introducing the life on the boats back in the days of the original.
The new Kisfaludy will look almost identical to the old version, apart from a few minor modifications. Not only the boat will look faithful to its original time, but the crew will also wear period clothes.
The boat was reconstructed using 42 tons of steel. The hull was transported from Szeged to Siófok by a truck.
There is only one other side-wheel steamboat (a copy) on Lake balaton: the Hableány, mooring in Keszthely. The original of Hableány was the steamboat the son of István Széchenyi István, Ödön Széchenyi took from Pest to Paris. Both of the boats belong to the fleet of the Balaton Pleasure-boating Ltd..