Thursday, March 27, 2014

Boats is Boats is Boats

Unless you work in the maritime industry, or have a close family member who does, it is usually a pretty safe bet to say that most people don’t have a clue about the working maritime world. 
Anytime that I mention that I work on a tugboat the instant reply from 99% of the people is, “Oh, so you push the big ships around.”
No. No, I don’t.
Full disclosure: Sometimes I just nod my head and agree with them. In some cases it really is a lot easier.

The perception
In truth, the tugboat I work on is matched up with an ocean-going oil barge. We are currently under contract to one of the big oil companies to transport the crude oil that they are getting from the new ‘fracking’ technology in the western part of Texas and the upper Mid-West.
It’s a lot more like long haul trucking, but on the ocean.
The reality. Not my boat. But same type.

Years ago, when the TV show Deadliest Catch first came out, that was the go-to comparison when I mentioned I worked on tugs. Not by me, but that is what the average person thought we did. 
Fishing for crab =Boats = Moving oil barges = Boats = All the same thing.

But now the points of comparison have shifted slightly.

My wife recently was talking to one of her friends at the gym. A mutual friend of my wife’s friend was introduced to my wife (does that make sense?). For some reason, the subject of me and boats entered the conversation.
Before my wife could explain what I actually did for work, her friend interjected with, “You know the film, Captain Phillips? It’s like that.”
Now available on DVD and Blu-ray
 Which, I guess is a little bit closer to the truth that the whole ‘crab fishing thing in Alaska’ deal.
Closer, but still not quite.
Remember this the next time you are dining on crab legs at Red Lobster
In reality, the actual Captain Richard Phillips happens to be a fellow alumnus of mine from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. As is the Chief Mate from the real Maersk Alabama, Shane Murphy. He was at the Academy at the same time as my wife. I had Shane's father, Captain Joseph Murphy (The Murph Dog), both as an instructor and as the training ship Captain, when I was at school. To say the maritime world is a small close knit community would be an understatement.
Also on sale now. An original t-shirt design from yours truly.

Interestingly enough, this about the fourth time in recent memory that what I do has been explained to other people as being Captain Phillips-esque. 

So I guess the comparison could be worse.

Although I don’t really think I look a whole lot like Tom Hanks.
I usually don't wear a suit
 ***If you aren't familiar with the story, or the movie, it is a pretty interesting real life tale of modern day piracy. Which, contrary to popular belief, is still very alive and well.


  1. Ocean trucking is the easiest way to describe it but they don't have a TV show or a movie. Wait? Do they?