REVIEWS OF TUG-RELATED BOOKS
From Vol 19-3 of TugBitts (mid-2009)
Tugs of Puget Sound, by Chuck Fowler and Capt. Mark Freeman.
Arcadia, 2009. 128 pages, many B&W photos, stiff covers, perfect
binding, 6.5” by 9-1/4”. ISBN 13-978-0-7385-5972-8,
10-0-7385-5972-5. $21.99 (includes a pack of 15 historic postcards.)
The two authors work together—that was demonstrated when
the pair organized a splendid Pacific Northwest TES Gathering
in the late Nineties and by the book, one on Arcadia’s Images
of America series; historian Fowler’s Tall Ships of Puget
is a sister to this book while Freeman operates several businesses
for the shore of Seattle’s Lake Union and his office mini-museum’s
walls are covered with hundreds of B&W tug photos. (Those
who were on the Pacific Northwest Gathering will remember his
office because his Fremont Tugboat was one stop in that three-day
I like the Images of America series because the photos are printed
near their original quality and the authors generally know their
subjects well. It is true for this book too. The authors start
with what was possibly the first tug to operate in Puget Sound.
It was the 1836 sidewheeler BEAVER, built for Canada’s Hudson’s
Bay Company and converted into a tug in 1874. It may have operated
south of the US/Canada border. The next chapter covers the period
After that comes an illustrative diversion to some family history.
We meet author Freeman’s well-known businessman father,
Mark himself, various businesses, and a virtual fleet of small
tugs. Mark is shown as a lad of eight seated on a tug’s
towing bitts; he is shown somewhat older salvaging logs with his
first tug, an ex-Navy round-bottomed dory he named SEAL ROCK Then
comes many of tugs he has used, usually larger and more-powerful
than SEA ROCK but not always—his mighty BARF, of only 15
feet and 22 hp, did useful work because Mark’s fleet of
what he labeled as “mini-tugs” specialized in handling
whatever floated on Seattle’s inland waterways—floating
hot tubs and residences, NOAA research ships, other people’s
tugs, Foss’s big steam-powered crane FOSS 300, fishing and
fish-processing vessels of all sizes, mega-yachts, normal yachts—you
name it, he towed it. (BTW, BARF isn’t the smallest tug
in the book—see page 103.) And Mark has not lacked imagination—some
of his tugs are open-topped ex-seine boats, very useful and with
great all-round visibility but remarkably little protection against
the proverbial Seattle afternoon shower. His son and the son’s
best friend now operate the tugboat business.
The final two chapters take the reader through World War II and
on to 2008. That means the tugs shown range from the typical wooden-hulled,
square-windowed PacNW tugs to the modern-styled ASDs and Voith-Schneider-propelled
tugs such as can be found anywhere in the world. Luckily, the
authors also devoted about 17 pages to those particularly Pacific
Northwestern attractions—tugboat racing and retired tugs
now lovingly used as recreational vessels and second homes..
Summary: A very good book for anyone who likes tugs and a must-buy
for those who love the Pacific Northwest region south of the border.
(The first printing of 1,500 copies sold out in the first week
after the book’s release!) But read on—the next book
review moves north. Hugh Ware
Boomsticks & Towlines, by S.C. Heal. Richmond Publishing
Services, Vancouver, 2003. 200 pages, about 200 photos, stiff
covers, perfect binding. 8.5” by 11”. ISBN 978-1-895590-24-8.
8415 Granville St Box 46, Vancouver BC V6P 4Z9, or tel 604-261-1695.
This book is the first of a series of Heal’s books that
TugBitts will review in coming issues. Syd Heal sets the scene
with the first two sentences of this book’s Acknowledgment
section: “This series of books is the product of accumulated
hands-on knowledge and experience of others as well as my own.
I personally back it with a formidable memory and a tendency to
be a ratpacker of books, plans, photos and knowledge that might
be useful ‘at some time in the future.’” He
later defines his subject thusly: ”Tugs and barge operations
… are now the core of local marine transportation ….”
The tugs of British Columbia tend to differ from those south
of the border. They tend to be smaller and they look different.
One reason is Canada’s laws (no crew accommodations below
the main deck, for example, and tonnage ratings that allow powerful
engines to be installed in quite-small small tugs). Another factor
is the sheer size of the province (16,800-plus mile of shoreline)
and its scarcity of settlements. That means barge loads, and thus
the towing tugs, tend to be small. But tugs and barges are absolutely
essential, unless the desired object will fit into an expensive-to-hire
seaplane. Need some fuel? It arrives by barge. Want to hire a
bulldozer? It is delivered on a ramp barge. You sold some logs
that will be shipped to Japan. Hire a tug to tow your rafts to
a port where a big log-carrying freighter can moor and load. And
other logs tend to be chipped rather than sawn into lumber, and
it is tugs that tow up to three overloaded chip barges at a time,
sometimes dropping one off at a pier without stopping in nautical
tour de force.
Although logging once was big business, one can still find many
log-broncs, very small, one-man tugs bullying logs into bundles
or sections, and somewhat-larger tugs moving sections into rafts,
and even-larger (but usually rather small) tugs towing away the
rafts. And towing a log raft needs relatively little horsepower
because a good tidal strategy beats big horsepower almost every
“Fish, furs, forest. We used to have them but not any longer”
is a plaint I heard some 4,800 miles away in Newfoundland but
it, sadly, also largely applies to British Columbia. Now, as Heal
points out, ecological tours and tourism are taking over.
Now let’s look at the contents of book #1. Unlike the later
books, it is somewhat of a hodge-podge of articles, most written
by Heal but two contributed by others. A list of the ten chapters
will both give an idea of the book’s contents and indicate
the author’s extensive background: The Early Explores were
Impressed, The Beginning and Development of Trade, The Log Supply:
The Early Towboats, Working for the B.C. Forest Service (contributed),
Davis Rafts, Log Barges and Mini-Log Barges, Career in Canadian
Coast Guard (contributed), Marine Insurance in Vancouver, Salvage
Unlimited, The Ro-Ro Concept, and Marine Link Ltd (a barge firm
that has one barge fitted out as a tourist cruise ship!).
Summary: What can I say other than that Heal does have a formidable
memory and extensive files, he knows what he writes about, and
he writes clearly and well. This first book was enjoyable to read,
and I eagerly look forward to the later volumes. HW
Tugworld Review 2008, edited by Dawn Gorman. An International
Tug & Salvage production. (The ABR Company Ltd, Wiltshire,
UK, 2009). 128 pages, stiff covers, perfect binding, 8-1/4 by
11-3/4 inches. ISBN 978-1-904050-18-6. www.tugandsalvage.com.
£30 (about $40-45)
Professional Mariners’s Amercan Tugboat Review2008, edited
by Gregory Walsh. An annual special issue of Professional Mariner
magazine, 2009. 92 pages. ISSN 1066-2774. Available at better
newsstands or as part of a subscription. $5.9the copy, US or Canada.
So alike and yet so different! TugWorld is an annual collection
of items from International Tug & Salvage magazine assembled
into what is essentially a high-quality, stiff-cover book while
American Tugboat is a pure-and-simple magazine, albeit one thick
enough to justify a spine to its binding. There is little duplication
in the two Reviews’ coverage; five tugs, to be exact. TugWorld
covers almost twice as many tugs as does American Tugboat but
that magazine’s number of tugs is hard to count since editor
Greg Walsh uses short articles that describe the recent and planned
tug acquisitions of several tug companies. Both reviews have articles
on the past year’s events and progress in the tugboating
Welcome to Dawn Gorman, the new editor of TugWorld. But this
reviewer will miss Andy Smith’s wise statements (except
for his acerbic comments about American tugs in one edition and
his personal views about global warming, said views forming the
basis of a continuing battle whenever we meet in person or via
emails). He did a great job and Dawn has big footprints to fill.
Let’s look at the two Reviews. The mightiest tug in American
Tugboat is the HARVEY WAR HORSE with 176 tons of bollard pull
to tow Gulf of Mexico oilrigs. The weakest is Buffalo Marine’s
bunker-barge pusher SAN KENNEDY with only 1,320 hp. Edison Chouest
Offshore has eight true tractors with their azimuthing drives
forward, a comparative rarity in North America.
This reviewer’s favorite is the Robert Allan-designed RAmparts
3000 JOHN COLLE, which was built in Colle’s shipyard over
an eight-year period. American Tugboat also has invaluable lists
of all US articulated tugs and their barges and a list of all
“tractor” (azimuthing-drive) tugs in North America.—my,
but those lists are getting long.
TugWorld covers more tugs and they come from almost anywhere
in the world. The Vietnam-built Damen ASD 2411 BREAM BAY now works
in the New Zealand tanker port of Whangarei while a Vietnam-built
pair of Damen ATD 2412s were true tractors for Australia; the
underwater shapes of the ASD 2411 and ATD 2412 are strikingly
different. The smallest tug in TugWorld is an under-26-foot American
sectional (and thus truckable) pusher with no name and no need
for a licensed driver. Next-longest is the small Scottish tug
UGIE RUNNER fitted with the world’s first Dynamic Oval Towing
system, which will ensure the tug is never girted or overturned
by the pull of the towline. Then come three line-handlers for
the UAE, the first of Robert Allan’s new RAscal 2000 class.
They are followed by the Gulf of Mexico lugger tug CHRISTYN RENEE,
one of those handy shallow-water tugs can also carry a useful
amount of cargo on its foredeck. And we aren’t up to 22
At the other end of the length spectrum are the biggies—they
include HARVEY WAR HORSE II, a Robert Allan-designed AVT 36/70
E-class Voith-propelled offshore support and escort tug from Spain,
several powerful tugs from Japan, an Italian-Turkish combine,
Spain, Turkey, Norway, and Hong Kong,. Add in several tug-like
150-foot diesel-electric standby rescue vessels for Denmark ,
each of which have five generators creating a total of only 3,000
hp for two stern-mounted azimuthing drives plus two bow tunnel
thrusters—there is always something to study and ponder
upon in these Reviews!
Summary? Both are essential working tools for me as I try to
keep abreast of what is going on in the tugboating world. Both
are highly recommended! HW
The 20th International Tug & Salvage Convention and Exhibition:
Complete Papers and Discussions, edited by Dawn Gorman. (The ABR
Company Ltd, Wiltshire, UK, 2008). 271 pages, B&W illustrations,
some color photos. Board covers, A4 size. ISBN 1-9904050-17-4.
www.tugandsalvage.com. £100 (about $145 US)
Held every two years in a tug-rich city somewhere in the world,
an ITS conference is the world's biggest gathering of tug, towage
and salvage experts and it is always a formidable—and highly
enjoyable—event. The papers presented and the discussions
after each paper are instructive, there is usually a wonderful
parade of local tugs (the parade at Rotterdam during the 19th
Convention set a Guinness record for most tugs assembled in one
place at one time—68 tugs spanning three centuries), meals
(especially the gala dinner) are superb, and the trade exhibit
is remarkably extensive and well-worth exploring in depth. This
reviewer has happily attended five events, regretfully missing
only the 20th at Singapore due to health constraints, and he looks
forward to the 21st at Vancouver next year.
A few months after each ITS conference, the “book of papers”
(or proceedings) is made available. Let’s stroll through
my copy, stopping at the papers that intrigued or educated me.
At almost every ITS conference, Vancouver naval architect Robert
Allan presents a long, thoughtful paper full of facts and details.
His 2008 paper addressed the evolution of his wildly successful
Z-Tech design—that ASD design with the topsides puts on
backwards. (There were more than forty Z-Techs at last count.)
Skipping over an paper on insurance (undoubtedly fruitful for
those in that field), we come to Moya Crawford’s latest
report about the extreme deep-sea salvage work she and husband
Alec do using simple but unique equipment he designed. Nowadays
their focus is on environmental problems such as retrieving oil
from the tanks of deep-sunken ships. (Do find a copy of her book
“Deep Water” if you want to know more about this amazing
pair—and you should!)
Skipping over some papers on salvage and Lloyd’s Open Form
but stopping briefly to read a long insiders’ report on
the salvage of the MSC NAPOLI, a container ship deliberately beached
on a pristine UK shore to keep it from breaking up, we arrive
at four papers about environment-friendly tugs. (Here I must make
a confession. Some months ago, I wrote an article about hybrid
tugs and new fuels and I failed to include two developments described
in the Book of Papers, because I simply found no mention of them
in a Internet search—I should have attended the Convention!)
A tug produces the most soot when it changes power settings abruptly
such as when docking a ship. Ship-assist tugs operate at full
power far less than 20% of the time although an exact figure depends
on many factors such as harbor layout—I have heard figures
as low as 2%. The first paper described Foss’s hybrid tug
(now in service as the CAROLYN FOSS) and its concept, necessary
trade-offs, and execution. Foss chose less-powerful main diesel
engines with electrical generators and batteries providing get-there
and idling power and supplementing the main engines during the
few minutes that mucho grunt is needed.
Finnish firm Wartsila pitched a hybrid-harbor tug concept that
would use LNG because it is cleaner than diesel fuel. LNG has
fueled other types of ships but its tugboat scheme would use dual-fuel
engines and batteries, with propulsion by variable-frequencv electrical
motors. (Diesel fuel would replace LNG on long-duration jobs such
as fire-fighting or emergency towing.) Crowley also likes LNG
as its primary fuel supplemented by a pair of small diesel generators
for hotel power, although they are replaced by shore power when
at the pier. Holland’s WorldWise went drastically further:
it plans to use hydrogen and fuel cells to generate the electricity
to propel an ASD and a small bow-mounted Voith unit would move
the tug to and from jobs. The discussion period after these papers
was, understandably, quite long.
Among the remaining papers were several of interest to tugmen.
Among them were Robert Allan’s description of his RAmparts
3200-class tugs, how to retrieve a lost tow, and several papers
dealing with synthetic-rope problems.
But the above is only a quick run-over of what the volume holds.
One cannot understand the present if one does not know history.
And this volume of proceedings is a record of significant history
if you are in the tug business! HW
From Vol 19-4 of TugBitts (late 2009)
REVIEWS OF TUG-RELATED PRODUCTS
I Wasn’t Born on the Canal: “It Just Seemed Like
it” by Capt Walter E. Hughes. 96 pages, stiff covers with
one color-printed cover, many B&W photos, 8-1/2 by 11 inches.
ISBN 978-0-9722215-4-2. Available at Borders at $24.95 or from
Walter E. Hughes, 129 E. Main St, Port Jervis NY 12771-2113 for
$16 plus postage (a $20 bill will do fine for US customers)
Your memories of good times, bad times, and the good old days
disappear when you die and this reviewer has been urging older
tugmen to get their memories down on paper or recorded on tape.
One tug captain, William C. Alligood, did so in his wonderfully
rich autobiography entitled “My Lifetime on the Water, as
told in my own words about tugboating”, which was reviewed
and highly recommended in Vol 19-1. When I heard that Capt. Walter
Hughes had also written a book of memories, I looked forward with
considerable eagerness to the book.
It arrived and I must confess that, as an editor (repeat—as
an editor) I cringed—its layout and format breaks just about
every rule of book-design possible. However, let me quickly add
that, as a tug-nut, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend
We meet him in 1937 at age twelve when a new step-father takes
him on the Erie Canal tug FIDELITY as a deckhand at $3 a week!
We follow him as he grows into adulthood, somewhere along the
way deciding how much formal education he needs (not much), and
becoming a skilled tugboat man and eventually captain of the RUSSELL
20. He sails on the Hudson River, the New York State Canals, the
Seaway before it became the Seaway, the Connecticut River, and
other waters in all kinds of weather. In his book, he does a great
job of describing his shipmates and their influences on him. Shipmates
are described faithfully and tersely (“A good Engineer But
a lousy Seaman. Would get seasick if a duck Swam across the Bow.
Couldn’t drink”) Alcohol played an important role
in Canal life because the tugs tied up so often, and from personal
experience he identifies some of better bars and saloons (for
example, the Oswego Hotel was ”one of the Best watering
holes on the Canal.” Or the bars at Sylvan Beach…).
Life, of course, wasn’t always routine. There was the terror
time when he was on the tank barge RUSSELL POLING 24, loaded with
20,000 barrels of gasoline, and it got away from the tug and ended
up perilously pressed against the spill of the dam above Troy
during high-water conditions. At least twice, Walt and a fellow
deckhand were lowered in a rowboat on a rope tether to check on
the barge’s condition and to close valves. (This incident
was covered in detail in Vol 17-4 in an article written with contributions
from Captain Hughes.)
Two events deeply impacted his tugboating career. One was meeting
Mary Cutola, a no-nonsense, conservative, good-looking girl who,
Captain Hughes proclaims, became “the compass that kept
me on a straight course. And the guiding light of my life.”
She sailed with him on at least one trip and was always the source
of good advice and loving support. Their marriage lasted 56 years
until cancer took her away. It was because of the long absences
from her that he swallowed the anchor in 1955 and eventually became
a tug dispatcher, a position he held for 33 more years. The job
allowed his artistic side to float to the surface in the form
of numerous tug-related cartoons and short poems, some of which
he has passed on to the Society’s archives.
The second event was World War II. Although deferred as an essential
worker, eventually he felt he had to go off to war. He returned
safely, a decorated 82nd Airborne paratrooper. What happened overseas
is not detailed (maybe a third book, Cap?) but an email may provide
some clues: “This year is the 65th Anniversary of the Market
Garden operation in Holland (The Bridge Too Far, Sept 17 1944)
which I participated in and I have been invited to take part in
the Celebration. As far as we know there are only 3 of us still
alive that survived the Waal River crossing portrayed in the movie
by Robert Redford. Only proves one thing. If you live long enough
and become an old geezer, anyone can become a celebrity. Even
a Kid from South Brooklyn.”
So what does the reader get from this book? Considerable first-hand
knowledge of life on the Hudson and Canal in the years before
and after World War II, an insight to the steady growth of a male
into manhood , and a charming love story. It is a remarkable,
one-of-a-kind, very realistic book written in the vernacular of
the trade and I hope other “old geezers” will write
a gazillion books just like it! Walter is writing a second book,
this one covering his career as a tug dispatcher, and I look forward
to its publication.
[In this age of self-publishing and books-on-demand it is relatively
easy to transfer memories into printed form. There can be expensive
pitfalls along the way but solid advice is available in Jack Simpson’s
“Self-Publish for Profit by Avoiding Booby Traps,”
which was reviewed in Vol 17-4.]
Always Ready: Tugboats along the Coast; The Evolution of an Industry
by S.C. Heal. Cordillera Books, Vancouver, 2003. 204 pages, 204
photos, stiff covers, perfect binding. 8.5” by 11”.
ISBN 978-1-895590-24-6. 8415 Granville St, Box 46,Vancouver BC
V6P 4Z9 or tel 604-261-1695. CAN$29.99.
This is the second book in Heal’s West Coast Maritime Series
that reports on the immensely varied maritime world that is British
Columbia. As mentioned in TugBitts’ review of the series’
first book in Vol 19-3, he stated, “This series of books
is the product of accumulated hands-on knowledge and experience
of others as well as my own. I personally back it with a formidable
memory and a tendency to be a ratpacker of books, plans, photos
and knowledge that might be useful ‘at some time in the
This book is a further demonstration of his statement. It starts
off with a chapter on the Fraser River, which Heal calls the “main
street of the lower mainland.” Drainage ditch for industrial
and agricultural run-off it may be but the Fraser is also the
province’s greatest salmon-raising river and the core of
the region’s economy. Heal describes the river’s various
conflicts and businesses quite well. Many involve BC’s small
but powerful tugs with their typical high bows and very low after
The next three chapters focus on tugboats and tugboat companies.
Tugs depicted range from a log-bronc lying over at a 45° angle
as it chases a log to big tugs fit for deep-water work. Included
are a lengthy list of past and present tugboat companies, each
with a mini-history, and much more. The last of this trio of chapters
contains a history of the Canadian Tugboat Company from 1911 to
1962 plus three longish letters from sailors telling of their
The next chapter deals with wooden scows and their successors,
the steel barges. It is a highly informative and, at times, deliciously
technical discussion. Did you know that “scow” came
from the Pennsylvania Dutch “schouw,” and that same
word had been used in Holland for centuries to describe any leaky
old tub? Or that, due to its massive keel and keelson, a wooden
scow can withstand the strains of being beached better than a
thin-skinned steel barge?
Captain Peter Tull then contributes a chapter on how he switched
from vacuum-cleaner salesman to tughand via an improbable sequence
of events. He continues onward to describe an interesting career
on tugs until he felt he had swallow the anchor.
The Sunshine Coast is the region of the southern mainland coast
of British Columbia just northwest of Greater Vancouver. It can
be reached only by boat or aircraft; because of the steep, rugged
terrain, no roads connect the Sunshine Coast with the rest of
the province and so the area, especially the pulp and paper mills
of Powell River, are serviced by tug and barges, and the next
chapter describes their history. Like the rest of the book, it
is not a shallow, superficial treatment. Remember that Heal is
more than a mere historian; he has been deeply involved in the
Province’s maritime community and intimately knows its functionings
Successive chapters deal with the distribution of coal, aggregates,
cement, petroleum products, chemicals, and explosives plus dredging
and marine construction. Lew Brewer then tells of the early days
of radar in the Province when he was one of the few technicians
back when the equipment was bulky but life was delightfully less-formal.
In the final chapter, Heal demonstrates the expanse of his vision
when he addresses the now-defunct whaling industry, then moves
on to fish-farming with its associated needs for a wide range
of maritime support, and briefly touches on a business that just
might become of increasing importance to the Province—the
transportation of pure, clear glacial water to a water-short outside
If you’re interested in learning more about British Columbia’s
several maritime industries, get this highly competent book and
its companion volumes. HW
The Tug Book: Second Edition by M.J. Gaston. (Haynes Publishing,
Somerset, UK, 2009) 240 pages, 212 color photos. Hardback covers.
Available through Amazon.com and other booksellers or at www.haynes.co.uk.
ISBN 978 1 84425 527 6. £25 (about US$41 list)
[M.J. “Jack” Gaston is perhaps today’ most-knowledgeable
and most-prolific writer about the modern tugboating scene. For
example, he contributed six pages of tug news to each and every
issue of British publication Maritime Journal for decades, and
that was before he turned professional! He is also a superb photographer
of tugs and has been hired by several companies to photo-document
their tugs. This book is the fourth he has written for one publisher
in its attempts to keep with the ever-changing world of tugboating.
I would have been delighted to review this book but—full
disclosure—I must reveal that Jack is a close friend, my
tug-writing mentor, and a sometimes-collegue. (You can find articles
we jointly wrote for Bob Beegle’s Marcon International in
its website’s archives—see August and October in “news
and articles” for 2001.) In place of an perhaps-over enthusiastic
review from me, TugBitts reprints the following review (probably
written by Nico Giltay) from Lekko International, the English-language
voice of the International Tugboat Enthusiasts Society.—Hugh
This fully revised and updated second edition of the The Tug Book
provides a detailed, up-to-date account of the design and operation
of tugs of many different types all over the world. You will find
it an authoritative study and unique insights into these increasingly
diverse and sophisticated vessels, along with the roles they perform
and the dramatic advances being made in the lesser known branch
of the shipping industry. In this unique guide to international
towing and tugs, leading maritime writer Jack Gaston describes
and illustrates virtually every facet of the present-day tug and
towing scene. He has brought together over 200 full color photographs
and diagrams in order to offer a definitive portrait of the vessels
and their work. A level of technical content has been incorporated
to make the book a useful reference in the towing industry, but
it will appeal to enthusiasts and those with a general interest
in tugs and towing.
ShipSim, 2008 Collector’s Edition
[There is a wide variety of maritime-related software available,
some of it free, for PCs and some of the programs deal with shiphandling.
One series that has gotten good reviews is ShipSim from Holland
and TugBitts asked Captain Bill Brucato to take a few hours from
driving his favorite ATB to test out one of the several ShipSim
programs. The website at http://www.shipsim.com/home.php provides
full information and in North America ShipSim can bought at Amazon,
EB Games Canada, Target.com, J&R, Computer Gameglobe, DirtCheapSoftware.com,
and Interact! Here is Bill’s report.]
I’m not much of a gamer and a ship-handling simulator is
so close to a “busman’s holiday” for me that
at first I was not entirely impressed with the idea of a really
advanced shiphandling simulator “game,” no matter
how awesome it was. I just didn’t think it would be all
that and a bag of chips.
But curiosity and the challenge of handling vessels I had only
read about proved to be too seductive to resist. The idea that
I could complete the voyage of the TITANIC into New York Harbor
was sexy as hell. (I’ve really got to get out more).
This program has all the earmarks of a slick high-end game system
that installs on your computer. But until I had a powerful enough
laptop to accommodate the resource hungry code (minimum 2.0 gHz,
dual core, and 3 gigs of RAM), I could only tinker with the apparently
slow and difficult to load graphics and odd keyboard controls.
I had a rather low opinion of the program’s performance.
My fault, I’ll admit.
Well, bless my lovely wife’s heart, she purchased a new
laptop and presented it to me for my birthday and, as I was thanking
her profusely for her thoughtful gift, I admit beneath the surface
I was thinking of how the new toy might handle this software.
With adequate processing power and sufficient RAM, the program
loaded and ran effortlessly. I was able to run pre-programmed
scenarios as well as create my own. If I didn’t want to
get too involved, the ability to roam free with any of the virtual
vessels is a fun option.
Now let me warn you, the programmed missions take a loonggg time
to complete; you’ll need to have a relief at some point,
and the esc button can be used for a bathroom break. The realistic
time frame of the missions offered will test your stamina for
watch-standing as well as your ship-handling skills!
I naturally found myself drawn to the port of New York Scenario
and was stunned to find how close the rendering matched the real
thing. It was quite impressive. Only a few quirks here and there,
which I suppose are necessary in the virtual world. I didn’t
feel as though the programmers took any shortcuts laying out their
The vessels I chose to play with, of course, started out with
the biggest tug I could find. They have a Norwegian Fjord scenario
that lets you tow a North Sea Drill rig to sea with two huge tugs.
Little pop-ups give you your mission step by step as you complete
each step. You have to leave the standby berth with each tug and
attach a towline to the rig (with each tug or the rig won’t
move) and then co-ordinate the piloting of both tugs to get this
monster safely out to sea. It took over an hour and a half to
clear the shallows and was rather intense. I think my wife was
beginning to rethink her generosity at this point.
I had my laptop connected to my 42-inch LCD HDTV for the whole
mission, and herself had to miss a couple of her favorite TV shows
while I tinkered in the North Sea. I thought she’d be proud
of me demonstrating my skill and grace under pressure as I piloted
a huge drill rig safely on its way, but I was getting the eye….
I knew I was in trouble.
Do I think this software is worthy of your time? I have to say
there were times during my test drive that I was looking for my
relief to come up and give me a break, at least send the deckhand
up with a cup of coffee. But the long missions are the exception
rather than the rule. There are plenty of craft (high-speed and
otherwise) to play with. You can handle a jet-ski, a hovercraft,
a speedboat, pilot boats, tractor tugs, supertankers, cruise ships,
container ships… the list goes on and on.
Most had realistic handling characteristics; indeed the TITANIC
was a handful given her twin-screw/single-rudder, a handful indeed.
She took a good long time to get up to speed, with her 75 rpm
maximum. Her top speed, however, was about 16 knots as I piloted
her out of the Solent. And I had to pilot a super tanker, of course,
very slow and cumbersome, not much action…. I get enough
of that at work.
The smaller faster craft were a lot of fun. The tractor tug was
a particular challenge and it took a while to get the hang of
the drives and how to steer the damn thing.
The program touts an online play capability. I decided not to
try that function since I didn’t want to add any more distractions
to my limited gaming abilities.
I must say, though, that the learning curve for this game is
a bit steep. I can see you’d need to be a fairly dedicated
ship fanatic with a lot of free time to want to really master
the game and all its applications. The toughest part I dealt with
was designing scenarios of my own. I’d recommend printing
and laminating the instruction manual; you’ll be using it
Overall, I can recommend this game to the truly bitten. If you
want to try your hand at ship-handling with the benefit of a reset
button, this is it.¬—Captain Bill Brucato
American Tugboat Review 2009, an annual special issue of Professional
Mariner magazine. Edited by Gregory Walsh. 76 pages, paper covers,
many color and B&W photos. Available by subscription or at
This issue carries several articles overviewing the tugboat industry,
how the industry is handling the economic down turn, and the near-term
prospects. And then there are the customary lists of North American
tractor tugs and US ATBs. plus twelve detailed reviews of thirteen
of North America’s newest, latest, and best tugs plus a
Z-drive pushboat, and a tug conversion for a Great Lakes ATB.
Three types are Canadian-built, the rest were US-built. For once,
Robert Allan Ltd wasn’t the prevalent designer. That firm
shared honors with Entech and Associates and Jensen Maritime Consultants
with two designs each.
This issue is remarkable because it reports on three drastic
design breakthroughs, One is the world’s first hybrid-drive
tug. Another is the trademarked Facet Tug, whose hull underwater
has no curved plating, just flat sections, yet the angled hull
is at least as efficient as a chined or rounded hull of the same
horsepower. Maybe the result is ugly as sin but, hey, it works!
And above water OT&BE’s Bob Hill played with angles
and surfaces to make this ATB pusher extraordinarily handsome.
And the third breakthrough is the use of z-drives on the inland
rivers. The discussion makes it clear how life for the steersman
is made far easier, and why the owner may dance with glee on his
way to the bank. (In fact, one wonders why the pushboat industry
was so slow to adopt azimuthing drives. After all, back in 1990
Eddie Conrad put Niigata Z-peller drives on his MISS NARI, the
motive force for the two big barges forming the luxurious floating-hotel
RIVER EXPLORER, and they operated successfully up to this year
when Eddie had to cease operating due to an understandable lack
of çustomers. Perhaps, like most New Orleans tug operators
once felt, inland operators feared damage to the expensive drives.
But now, most new ship-assist tugs on the Lower River are ASDs
and further use of azimuthing drives on towboats seems inevitable.)
I have been cleaning out old files and I came across two emails.
One was from Capt Bill Smith, a highly respected Scottish tugmaster,
and the other was from Jack Gaston (see the adjacent review of
his new book). Both had received copies of earlier issues of American
Tugboat Review and both expressed their surprise and pleasure
at the high quality. The issue for 2009 is probably even better
and more insightful than the issues they read.—HW
Design 327 US Army Small Tug. A model kit from BlueJacket Shipcrafters,
160 East Main Street, Searsport ME 04974. Price: $245. Telephone:
(800) 448-5567, E-mail: email@example.com, Website: www.bluejacketinc.com.
Over the last several years, Searport, Maine’s BlueJacket
Shipcrafters has released several new models. These models consisted
of the clipper ship RED JACKET, the battleships MAINE and OLYMPIA,
the AEGIS destroyer ARLEIGH BURKE and the four-masted schooner
CHARLES NOTMAN, all of which were challenging to build and expensive.
As they looked for a new model to do, they decided to do a series
of workboats that would be affordable.
The newest model was created by Al Ross of BlueJackets who said,
“Suzie and Jeff (owners of BlueJackets) wanted to create
a new series of kits in a moreaffordable range than some of the
last ones that we’ve done and they wanted to do a series
of American workboats. The first one is an 85-foot tug, which
this particular design is an Army design from 1944. We built a
pile of these and then after the war a lot of different companies
picked them up as surplus. They are traditional-looking diesel
harbor tug, which was seen in harbors all around the United States.”
Ross added, “This is a traditional BlueJacket kit in that
it has the machine-carved basswood hull. There are a lot of laser
-cut pieces, like all the superstructure, are laser cut. The stack
is resin, which is the only resin piece in the kit. It is a little
unusual or a little out of the traditional mode in that because
of the way the tug bulwarks were formed, they had tumblehome.
There is a laser-cut deck, with slots in it, that screws down
over the hull. Once the hull is shaped there are temporary formers
that go across the deck so that when you bend the laser-cut bulwarks
in place these formers keep it at the right angle as it curves
around the stern. Once everything is set and dried, you take a
pair of pliers and snap the formers out and since they are underneath
the cabin so you don’t see where they were.”
Difficulty is relative, but one should have a little experience
before they try to build this one. “It is like the rest
of our traditional wooden kits,” said Ross. “The hull
is mostly carved and the only thing you’ve got to remove
is a lug on the front and back from where it was carved. We have
templates if you want to get really, really precise. The instruction
book is about 60 pages and is a standard step-by-step with exploded-parts
diagrams for the whole boat. I also make a CD that goes with all
the new models, which will make building the model easier. We
also did a website while I built this model. We are keeping this
particular site set up for the series. So when the next kit comes
along there will be teasers up on that site to see what is going
on. Once people start building the tug, hopefully they’ll
share their experiences as they go along.”
With a number of these already shipped to customers Bluejacket
are now thinking about the next one in the series. They are thinking
maybe a Florida shrimper, a New England eastern-rigged dragger,
or possibly a West Coast tuna boat. Owner Jeff Marger said, “What
we are trying to do is come up with iconic American boats. Everybody
has done the Chesapeake boats to death and the other types of
regional boats have almost totally been ignored.
Since these models are being built 3/16 of an inch to the foot,
or S gauge, the model railroad guys should be happy since this
is a scale they like.
Besides building this model, Ross has been busy doing custom
models. He has just finished a four-stack destroyer for a customer,
as well as a Hinckley Sou’wester 42, a minesweeper, and
a seaplane tender. He still has a couple more to do, which will
keep him busy through the summer and into the fall.—Jon
Modelers who want to add fine details to their ST model will
find a wide range of objects in the photos of Jaap Bijl’s
“ST Tugs design 257 and 327” (reviewed in TugBitts,
Vol 17-1). BlueJacket also carries a superb model of the LACKAWANNA,
a steam-driven coastal tugs from the era when such tugs towed
coal-laden schooner-barges to New England.
[The next book is not about tugs but features tugs being repaired,
rebuilt, revised, and rejuvenated at Caddell’s Dry Dock
on Staten Island. The book is impressive enough and the yard is
now such an integral part of the New York Harbor tugboat scene
that TugBitts reviewed the book and added a final note by historian
Caddell Drydock: 100 Years Harborside by Erin Urban with contemporary
photos by Michael Falco. Foreword by Peter Stanford. 115 pages,
hard covers, many photos. ISBN 978-0-9623017-3-5. www.noblemaritime.org
or 718 447—6490. $40.00
Marine historian Peter Stanford describes Caddell Dry Dock &
Repair as ”the oldest, largest, and most technologically
advanced shipyard in New York.” The yard is located on the
north shore of Staten Island. Six years ago, Caddell celebrated
its 100th birthday and its CEO denied requests by Erin Urban that
she write a celebratory history. Luckily, John B. Caddell II eventually
changed his mind and this volume is the result
So who is the author? Her credentials are good: She is the founding
and executive director of the nearby tugboat-oriented Noble Maritime
Collection and author of three tug-related books (“John
A. Noble: the Rowboat Drawings,” Hulls and Hulks in the
Tide of Time: The Life and Work of John A. Noble” and “John
A. Noble”). But why this review of her book about an elderly
shipyard? The answer is simple; the yard largely services tugs
although barges, NYC ferries, large sailing ships, and other vessels
A history of the company and those that created and operated
it kicks off the book, followed by a detailed chapter on dry-docking.
Many fine photos, such as before-and- after shots of the sideswiped
ESSO TUG NO. 11 in 1953, illustrate this text. Thereafter, the
fine photos taken by Michael Falco take over the back half of
the book and depict both of the processes of drydocking and ship-repair
—the featured tug is the ASTB tug BARBARA E. BOUCHARD, in
for two new propellers, fender work, and a repaint.
It is hard to take meaningful photos of cluttered areas such
as a busy drydock but Falco does it well. There are photos of
clusters of men at work. Often, a single worker is silhouetted—machinist
Cleveland Hah Sang or electrician Ricardo Hoffman, for example—
and the remaining photos on that page show him at work. The photos
are sharp, well-composed, carefully selected and those in the
photo essay were printed in a very soft, just-off-black brownish
tone that is not quite sepia but is most attractive. One final
photo shows just about every Caddell worker. It is a magnificently
evocative group photo.
It is both interesting and puzzling to scan the author’s
Bibliography. Most of her material was derived from interviews
with Company executives and historical materials they had prepared,
but one wonders what useful information she found in “Science
and Civilization in China” or “The Deipnosophists,
or banquet of the learned of Althenaeus.” Perhaps finding
traces will be a task for the educated reader.
In style (but not shape or heft), subject matter, and overall
book quality, this history is a fitting companion to George Matteson’s
wonderful “Tugboats of New York: An Illustrated History.
“Caddell Drydock” is a high-class book.— HW
Copies of the book selling for $40 plus $7 postage are available
in the Noble Maritime Collection gift shop (call 718-447-6490
or write Noble Maritime Collection, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten
Island, NY 10301) and from Amazon.com.
Brent Dibner’s comments: This is a beautiful book on a gritty
subject. TES readers interested in New York Harbor will enjoy
the photos culled from Caddell’s massive archive of repairs
to steam tugs, lighters, tankers, diesel tugs, tug conversions
and other harbor craft. Like all books that Erin Urban has written
pertaining to the Harbor, it is written with sensitivity, accuracy,
and a strong sense of context. TES readers should remember that
the wonderful Tugs Exhibition at the Noble Collection remains
on exhibit until the end of 2010. It is a must to see. Visit www.noblecollection.org
Olympia Harbor Days, 2008. A CD-ROM video report by John Earle.
Approximately 63 minutes. $10 postpaid from Earle at PO Box 130,
Sweet Home, OR 97386-0130 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This is home video, folks! I’ve got hours of similar stuff
I took of tugs at work or play in the US and abroad. I even have
tapes of the Olympia tugboat races. It’s crude, catch-as-catch-can
cinematography. No editing except by the operator selecting what
he shoots, no dubbed narrative or music, just voice-over descriptions
by the camera operator as things happen. There are moments of
camera shake and wind noise. There are strange breaks in what’s
being photographed, and the like. You know—home video!
But this video has two over-riding virtues. It is remarkably
inexpensive and it is a compelling labor–of-love by someone
who is turned on by tugs, knows the Olympia Tug Races scene intimately
and was on a tug in a race. It is true that some scenes abruptly
terminate for no apparent reason. Others scenes, such as the dinner
for the tug crews, may seem to consume too much airtime. But Earle
captures the totality of Harbor Days and gives us wonderful moments
such as when a gigantic 110-hp Atlas engine is started and then
ticks over, the brass-tipped pushrods pogo-ing up and down, or
during the race when other tugs are photoed close at hand, futilely
straining to stay up with the camera tug as it threads the needle
More importantly, John Earle has put together an in-depth, insider’s
record of the tug races and other events during Olympia’s
2008 Harbor Days, from arrival of tugs at crowded Percival Landing
to the next-day presentation of prizes, plus much, much more.
For those who have been to Olympia Harbor days and the races,
this CD will refresh pleasant memories—it’s a fun
place and event! For everyone else, it records a charming holiday
weekend featuring well-loved, well-preserved tugs and a holiday-minded
crowd. And Earle won’t make any money with this video at
the paltry price he asks. (Yes it’s only ten dollars and
postpaid at that!) As I said above, this CD is a labor of love,