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Some Towboats I have Met or Seen

To see information about my book on Towboating go to Intro to Totboating

Some of the common features and equipment normally found on a Western Rivers (Mississippi system) Towboat.

Towboats come in many sizes from small like this dredge tender, often referred to as utility boats. Small boats may be as little as 200Hp.

This is a medium sized Mississippi River Line Haul (long distance) twin screw 8800 Hp, 180' x 48'. The larger boats go up to 10,500Hp.

This is one of Arthur Daniel Midland's triple screw boats some of which go up to 10,500Hp. Note swing buoy aft of the port barge.. This is one of the Big Boys.

Boats also serve many functions like this 800 Hp refueling boat barge. Line haul boats normally fuel while moving. The Tunica River Park Museum is in the background.

Boats also try not to stop for crew. This one has slowed but is still moving upriver as the crew comes aboard. The davit forward of the flag will get the small boat.

  Here is one of Blessy's  fuel transport boats w/ jack-up pilothouse that allows her to go under bridges. These are affectionately refereed to as "The ugliest boats on the river".

You sometimes see unusual combinations like this towboat pushing and a small tug pulling this barge. I'll bet the radios stay very busy on these two boats.

This is certainly not a towboat but there still some people on the river with the Tom Sawyer and Huck Fin spirit. It's gona be a long way to New Orleans guys!

Barges also vary in function. Here are two common barges with depth sounder poles on the front of the tow. The pilot needs to anticipate shallow water.

This is a fuel or liquid chemical barge with its associated pumping engines and delivery piping. This barge requires deck hands with tankerman certification.

Here is a small Corps of Engineers barge and dredge that loads hopper barges that are dumped in deeper water On the Mississippi much larger dredges are used.

Tows can have as many as 50 barges and they are held together and to the towboat by cables. Some cables are steel but synthetic cables are easier to handle.

If you look close you can see that this tow includes two hitch hikers. If you need boats moved this works well especially going down river. Only one boat is pushing.

Pilots have to watch what they are doing very carefully when meeting in narrow sections of the river like this. Thousands of tons of load don't stop easily.

Here is the Delta Queen running with me so our passengers can take early evening pictures of the other boat. At last report she was headed to Chattanooga as a hotel.

Here we are locking through at night on the way to our Coast Guard five year dry-docking inspection aboard THE STAR of Knoxville the sternwheeler that I pilot.

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Mail to NavCal Marine Services, 8016 Ellisville Lane, Knoxville, TN 37909.
We may be reached by phone at (865) 765-3407.  (c) NavCal Marine Services LLC

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