New barge honors company founder

Sep 23, 2008 12:00 AM


Winslow Marine, of Falmouth, Maine, took delivery in June of a new barge, Captain E., named in honor of the company’s founder, Capt. Eliot Winslow.

Capt. E, built for Winslow Marine, was named after the company?s founder, Eliot Winslow, and was christened by his widow, Marjorie, above. The 150-foot-long barge, one of the largest ever built in Maine, will transport construction equipment.  (Photos courtesy Winslow Marine)
The new barge is 150 feet long and 54 feet wide and was also built in Maine, at Rockland Marine. Capt. David Winslow, president of Winslow Marine, said he believes it is the largest commercial vessel built in Maine for a Maine owner in almost 100 years. The new barge was launched in Rockland on June 7 and will transport construction equipment and other loads too heavy for highway or rail.

Winslow remembers his father’s dedication and love of the business. “He never stopped working,” he said. “He would climb over four tugs to get to a job.”

Eliot Winslow served in the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy during World War II. He was aboard the USS Argo in 1944 when it captured the crew of a German sub off the coast of New Hampshire.

He founded Winslow Marine in 1955. He started off as a pilot on oil tankers in Maine’s Sheepscot River. His first assist tugs were two lobster boats and the Monhegan ferry, Balmy Days. He purchased his first tug, Alice Winslow, in 1965. Winslow Marine now operates seven tugs and 10 barges and operates from the mid-Atlantic to eastern Canada.

David Winslow became president of Winslow Marine in 1985. He began working for his father when he was 8 years old. He got his tugboat license as soon as he was eligible, at age 21. The company keeps two tugs at Bath Iron Works in Maine. The tide in the Kennebec River, where BIW is located, is quite strong. One day, there were two tugs, lashed together tied to the wharf heading upstream. Eliot had his son, then 12, try to maneuver a third tug between the bows of the other two.

By then, the tide was ebbing, and “when you’re coming down in a 3-knot tide, you don’t have much control of the tug. I made three or four passes and I couldn’t get it in there. I was almost in tears,” said David. But his father wouldn’t let him give up. “You’re going to do it if we have to stay here all day,” David recalls.

Eliot Winslow gave up running the boats in 1990. But he never retired and continued to ride in the tugs as a passenger. David was towing a Washburn & Doughty tractor tug to Rockland when his father fell in the tug’s head in 2006. Although he recovered, he was bed-ridden and died in 2006 at age 97.

Of all the lessons he learned from his father, David said his father’s integrity stands out. “He was known for his honesty and his good word.”

David said the ability to do all kinds of work has kept the small, family-owned firm alive. “There’s not many of us left — everyone buying everyone out and consolidating.”

Winslow Marine has a yard in South Portland and one in Boothbay. In addition to bunkering, the company moves transformers, construction equipment, defense materials and special equipment. The company does very little ship-assist work.

Winslow Marine guided the reactor into the Wiscasset site of the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant. They also removed it in 2003 as the plant shut down. The company can move buildings and also uses its barges at firework displays. “Up here in Maine, you have to be flexible,” he said.

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