Tug Use Offshore in Bays and Rivers: The Towmaster's Manual
The practical skills which have been learnt and passed on through generations of mariners working in the offshore towage industry, are captured in this extraordinary manual. It has been written by two brothers, one a tug master and the other a pilot who handle tows regularly, both working on the western seaboard of the USA. The practice of learning through experience has served this sector of industry well, but now with modern developments, larger barges and more powerful tugs, it was felt by the authors that more formal guidance was needed. The result is Tug use offshore, in bays and rivers. The authors cover in considerable detail the methods which are used to maneuver tugs and tug/barge combinations. Their maxim is "If a maneuver does not work on two occasions do not repeat it again. Think, plan, use the best sources of information, consult with colleagues and work out better ways of doing things". To be able to discover more effective ways of working, mariners need to know what can be attempted together with any physical and safety limitations. This book endeavors' to provide the answers through well illustrated examples and seamanlike descriptions which will be readily understood by seafarers operating tug barge systems anywhere in the world. The book primarily addresses towing on the Pacific coast of the USA, where arguably some of the worst sea conditions can be found. There, the Pacific swell can be whipped up by fast moving and deep depressions storming towards an inhospitable coastline. In severe weather the tug master has to be aware of the dynamic loads in the tow line when the tug is reacting to the seas at different periods to the barge or series of barges if pulling multiple tows. The book covers harbor work, making fast, streaming, handling tows in different weather conditions and docking. The techniques of handling multiple tows are explained and there is a unique chapter on towing close astern. There are also sections on towing equipment, watchkeeping and command. The USCG report into bridge allusions is given prominence in the annexes and there is essential advice on handling tows in rivers and areas where narrow bridge constrictions demand special attention. Similarly there are many bars to the rivers which pose real hazards particularly when weather conditions are adverse with strong tides and shallow water. Much useful advice is given to enable better judgments to be made when planning an entry or departure. As of May 2006 all ocean tug mates and masters are required to be USCG certificated. An innovative scheme has been introduced to ensure competent practical skills are demonstrated through a new system of assessors. To make the system work, senior masters can be given 'designated examiner' status and they are empowered to sign off the record book entries, examples of which, are demonstrated in the book. In the chapter on command the authors state that "masters must stay mentally aggressive or face a slow erosion of confidence that will eventually affect job performance". Most people working in any competitive industry will have resonance with those sentiments, but to keep looking forward requires access to stimulating and informative information. That is exactly what this book and its case studies aims to provide.