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"An Introduction to TOWBOATING and the Towing Industry" now on Amazon

by Captain John C. Farmer

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I wrote this book in hopes that it will encourage more people to join this industry and provide needed information for others. There are numerous books on Tugboats (see appendix 1) but I have not been able to locate one on Towboats. Everyone loves and remembers the small yet powerful Tugboats primarily because of the association with the much larger vessels that they help maneuver in docking and undocking situations. The Towboat in much less well known and appreciated. Towboats have been around since the eighteen hundreds and are a major part of the United States transportation infrastructure. Probably the reason they are not as well known is that unless you live by a river or the Intracoastal Waterway you may not have ever seen a towboat. They just do there job day after day with very little recognition. Occasionally the news, if you live in a river area, may report that a barge hit a bridge often with little damage. Without the existing barge industry our highways would be even more congested than they are now. There is a move underway to try to expand the use of barge transportation for inland shipping of containers that arrive at our ports. This would certainly be a move in the right direction as you will see by reading this booklet. If you are involved with shipping, responsible for legislation, interested in the “brown water” marine industry, are looking for a rewarding job, or just plane curious I strongly encourage you to read this book. Our book (ISBN 978-0-578-09330-7 is available for $21.00 plus shipping.

The book consists of the following:

  • What is a towboat (any why is it build that way)
  • A little history (steam towboats to modern diesels)
  • Why ship by barge (a look at comparative shipping costs)
  • Towboat crews (who operates these boats)
  • What things are shipped by barge (commodity categories)
  • What types of barges are used (one type is not enough)
  • Crew duties (what everyone does and why)
  • Work schedules (normal hours of work)
  • Pay and benefits (what you can expect)
  • Entry requirements (are you qualified?)
  • Drugs and alcohol (an absolute NO, NO)
  • Training available (what you need to know)
  • Chances for advancement (deckhand to port captain)
  • Towboat companies
  • Employment web sites and addresses
  • Towboat organizations
  • Apndx 1 References
  • Apndx 2 Towing industry information sources
  • Apndx 3 General marine information
  • Apndx 4 Training sources



To see some on the many boats I have seen as a Captain that prompted writing this book go to Towboats for a photo gallery of boat pictures.

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Mail to NavCal Marine Services, 8016 Ellisville Lane, Knoxville, TN 37909.
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