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River Commerce terms: Differences between towboats and tugboats
Shamarie Claiborne used correct terms with photo of towboat. Writer recalls his late father's career on the river, where he rose from deckhand to good chief engineer
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By Jeff Johnson
I am so glad that Shamarie Claiborne used the right term to describe the boat on the river in Henderson. So many people mistakenly refer to all riverboats as "tugboats,"
However, some are "towboats."
With river commerce, "tugboats" gather barges to make a "tow", then a "towboat" pushes the tow to the next destination.
Tugboats usually use local crews. On the river, towboats are more powerful than tugboats.
They also carry a larger crew of a captain, pilot, chief engineer, engineers, and deckhands who usually spend 30 days on/30 days off work.
This was told to me by my father, Larry D. Johnson, who started out as a deckhand and quickly became a good chief engineer for several large barge companies before his death.
He said he could have been a pilot and maybe captain, but he didn't want to spend 12 hours at a time in the wheelhouse. But he did give the pilots breaks when he could. -Jeff Johnson
Thanks, Jeff Johnson so much for noting the distinctions in river terminology, and for noting the care Shamarie Claiborne uses choosing words. Maybe her gift is from her many hours on college campuses, from her knee high days at Lindsey Wilson to the time she's spent acquiring advanced degrees. -CM
This story was posted on 2011-03-29 03:26:17
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