The ships’ type stevenaak came forth from the (wooden) Dortense barge. She belongs to the last generation of sailing ships which were competing with steam ships. This was a special class of ships with its own traditions, typical lines and graceful stern. The HELENA is the last representative of these ships and it is the last remaining ship in the world which is still allowed to sail on the Rhine with passengers on board.
HELENA was built at Jonker shipyards and registered in 1875.
Skipper Adrianus Rijnvos buys the HELENA from shipper Fromm and renames her Antonius Maria.
Skipper Dorus Verburg buys Helena and modernizes the ship. He removes the original rigging, shortens the mast and reduces her canvas.
Helena collides with a motor ship near Orsauw. The ship sinks but the skipper and his son luckily manage to get out alive. The ship is lifted and repaired.
The HELENA was sold for scrap.
After years in the harbour, the HELENA is sold to a scrap yard. Most likely due to her beautiful shape and graceful lines the ship is saved. It is sold to many hands, but none of the aficionados that buy her succeeded in restoring the ship. Only when Bart Vermeer decides to hand over the ship to The Rotterdam Sailing Ship Foundation, he can complete his life’s work. And in what way! The restoration receives an honorable mention by Europa Nostra. Bart receives a royal commendation and the HELENA was recognized as national monument of great cultural historic value.
On May 16th, 1998 a huge crane lifts the HELENA out of the water and puts her on the quay at ship yard Koningspoort. This marks the beginning of the restoration.
On October 15th, the hull is finished and the HELENA is launched in the presence of the mayor of Rotterdam, Ivo Opstelten.
After years of hard work, the HELENA sets sail again. The restoration not completely finished yet, but to finish the job, she has to earn more money.
The HELENA receives the Rijnpatent. As only sailing ship in the world she can sail with passengers on the Rhine, all the way up to Basel. As if to celebrate this, the royal family comes on board in Woudrichem, during Queensday.