Author: Story and photos by Alan Haig Brown

Idle BC crew boat finds new niche as commuter ferry

Traveling the coasts of North America, it is not uncommon to see crew boats from the 1970s and ’80s tucked away in a backwater or corner of a port — the older ones built in steel with a pair of 12V-71 Jimmies, the newer ones in aluminum with a variety of four-cycle engines.

New ferry takes the torch on historic Columbia River crossing

​“The last of the dairy farms on the island shut down because it wasn’t worth sending a truck down to haul the milk,” said Capt. Ray Peek when asked about the economy on Puget Island, a flat piece of verdant meadows and sloughs in the Columbia River.

Bar pilot guides Great Lakes freighter into California port

It sits solidly at anchor on the waters of San Francisco Bay — an aging Easterner a long way from home. With all the characteristics of a long, narrow bulk carrier, Atlantic Superior proudly proclaims its origins as a St. Lawrence Seaway laker.

Cal Maritime simulators train tugboat captains alongside harbor pilots

A classic scene from a World War II movie about a naval battle in the South Pacific or North Atlantic will show admirals and others shifting around models of their fleet and the enemy’s fleet on a scaled-down simulation of the area involved. Longtime Long Beach/Los Angeles Jacobsen pilot Capt. Vic Schisler uses similar wooden models on a vertical white board to illustrate piloting and ship handling with tugs.

Swinging a compass

“It is the ever-present fallibility of electronics that keeps the compass adjuster in business,” Capt. George Barber said when asked to explain the science and art of swinging a compass.

On the B.C. coast, regulations are catalyst for well-designed compact crew boats

The greater part of the rugged inlets and islands that make up the British Columbia coast are accessible only by floatplane or boat. Most floatplanes take only three to five passengers and not a lot of freight. Heavy cargos are hauled on ramp barges or landing craft. When a larger crew or smaller freight needs to be transported, the role of the crew boat or water taxi has become paramount.

Inlet Knight

Nicely appointed tug makes log-towing a pleasure for its crew