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Thanks for sending photos along.  Capt. Jack Aubrey sent this along from Baltimore.  He says, “The ship name and the assembled team almost looks set up.   L to R: Eric, Timothy and Bridget McAllister.” 

It really does.  I’ll bet Pretty Team could travel all the English-speaking ports of the world and highlight all the great and pretty teams.  At the moment, she’s still looking to pose with more teams in Baltimore.

Given the cold weather today,  Tim Powell sent along these next photos from near Ottawa IL, midpoint on the Illinois River between Chicago and Peoria.  Tim writes:  “Once again I had the opportunity to serve my beloved transportation industry. On 01/05/2022 we delivered a load to the towboat MV Brian NapackB&M Midstream is a full service family owned company. It was a chilly 10 degrees on the Illinois River in Ottawa Ill, with a 20 to 30 mph wind.” 

When they receive an order, B&M Midstream goes to the nearest boat ramp, launches the boat,

comes in alongside,

transfers the supplies,


and then hauls the supply boat back onto the trailer. I guess the windows would clear once it warmed up, but the internet tells me it’s about that same temperature in that part of the Illinois River today.

And finally, Capt. Tony A caught Susan Rose –ex-Evening Breeze–the other days, and a bit later,

he caught J. George Betz in mid-paint transformation to Betz the Centerline boat.  Watch for the lion to go on the stack. 

Many thanks to Tony, Tim, and Jack for sharing these photos.  I’ll keep my eyes open for more Pretty ships.  Here‘s another one.





All photos here thanks to Tim Powell.  What I noticed is that these all have a tugboat and a truck; hence . . . trugster.  And the last photo here has yet another mode of land transport.

Note the stepvan on the bank?

A. E. Clifford dates from 1947.   Click here for previous tugster fish tug posts.   Off Clifford‘s stern, that’s Forney, which you’ve seen before here.  And off Forney‘s starboard is a Ford pickup.  The photos above and below Tim took in Superior WI, next to Duluth.

So here’s the delivery truck for B & M Delivery, a service of B & M Boat Store.  Neil N. Diehl has an esteemed namesake.

Need grub along this section of the Mississippi?  Just fill out the grocery  form.  Since this is an inland waterway with locks, you can figure out where the best place for the delivery is.  B & M is at mile marker 403 upper Mississippi River. If the delivery truck needs need info about the boat, Dick’s towboat gallery is on the same site.

And if the towboat can’t make it to shore, the truck can tow a launch.

Rigger looks like it could be a pilot boat or a small tug like Augie, but I have no further info.  Note the locomotive in the background among the grain silos?

Many thanks to Tim Powell for all these photos.  And if you see a tugboat juxtaposed with a truck or train, we can make a “trugster 2” post.

I’m hoping to drive out to the Mississippi River watershed a bit later this year.

By the way, I just checked, and this is tugster post 4959, which means in 40 posts or so from now, a big milestone passes.  Hmm . . .


Once Lock 11 has emptied, the gates open and the remaining barges are pushed in.


The Mississippi system is new to me, so here’s a question:  since this lock opened for navigation in 1937, what did traffic look like the first year?  Was double-locking a common occurrence?

Here’s a glance at how the tow is held together.





At first the exit is slow, but once the forward six barges are wired in place, which took no more than 10 minutes,

Barrett’s 6000+ hp engines accelerated, turbos screamed, and

her wake raced away.

Here’s the view back up to Eagle Point Park, where I took the first photos from.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Well . . . I was on a schedule to get to Dubuque, so the title provides alliteration if not accuracy.

Our timing was such that we could watch a tow make its way upbound at Lock & Dam 11, aka Eagle Point.

M/V Aaron F. Barrett was pushing twelve cement barges to St. Paul.


It was soon apparent to me that this would be a double-locking.

My estimate of barge length was about 200′.


There area just up from the lock was off limits, so I had no opportunity to see the mechanism that moves the non-propelled barges forward along the approach wall.   Anyone help with details here?



All photos by Will Van Dorp, who’s now working on part 2.



Much more catching up to do, but first, I share some New Orleans photos from last week and then related photos and response from my inbox to the review of Tugboats Illustrated here.

This first series I include because I’m amazed by this maneuver, but it does not effectively depict it because a) I was moving behind and then alongside and forward of it in the series of photos taken over a 30-minute period of time, and b) I would need to get the photos from a fixed aerial position as it made the turn, and c) this is a relatively small tow . . . only 12 barges in relatively calm conditions.

Starting at 4:23 pm last Tuesday, I was following Ingram Barge Co. Mike Schmaeng.  Many years ago now I did this post on Ingram.  Ingram is a company that operates 150 boats, 5000 barges, over 4500 miles of inland waterway . . . all approximate numbers.














On my next trip to Nola, I’ll set up on a tripod at a fixed point, maybe the upstream end of Crescent Park.  I also intend to check out some tighter points, such as Wilkerson Point, shown below.


So now, in response to this photo from my review of Tugboats Illustrated . . .


in my inbox, I got this note from a retired professional brown water mariner who wishes NO fistfights or pissing contest:

“RE: Sketch from the tugboat book.

The sketch showing a tow in a flanking maneuver is not how we do it on the inland rivers. If a tow is flanked as shown in the sketch, it will ALWAYS end up against the bank below the bend.   Attached is a photo of a towboat flanking Wilkerson Point, just above Baton Rouge.
You can see from the wheel wash that the pilot is backing full astern to get the stern of the tow near the inside of the bend. He is not quite in position yet, but the tow will take up nearly the entire river. The stern of the boat will only be a hundred or so feet off the point all the way around the bend. A pilot will call on the radio, stating his intention to flank such and such a bend, point or bridge. Because for all purposes, the channel will be blocked, ALL northbound traffic, including ships will be required to stop well below the bend. From the time the pilot stops his engines to get into the flanking position until he can come full ahead coming out of the bend, it may take 30 to 45 minutes. The tow will probably not be in a position to come full ahead again until it is in the area of the refinery at top right.
All “heavy” tows like this will flank certain bends and bridges between St. Louis and New Orleans at certain stages of the river. Before departing St. Louis, a downbound tow will place “flanking” buoys at each outboard stern barge. The buoys are marked on the second photo [with letter Os]. Since the current is used to float the tow around the bend, the inner buoy will show the pilot when there is no sternway or headway in the current and it is this buoy which tells the pilot that the flank is being correctly done. A flanking buoy is in place on the other corner because there are both left and right hand flanks required.
A tow of 35 loaded barges is common on the Mississippi River. A downbound tow will be made up seven wide and five long, not as stated in the book. A pilot has better control of such a tow during a flank. A northbound tow will be made up seven long and five wide, to get it through the current better.
The boat pictured in the photo is the AUSTEN S. CARGILL (now Justin Paul Eckstein), owned by Cargo Carriers, Inc., Minneapolis, a Cargill subsidiary. It is 182 by 55 feet. It is triple screw and at the time of the photo had a total of 6,630 hp. This photo was taken in 1964. It had 57,908 tons of grain in 40 barges, according to Cargill.  A tow being flanked may need just a gentle touch on the head of the tow;  that is why the tug is approaching the head of the tow, to assist if needed.
/s/ USCG licensed “Mate, Upon All Inland Rivers, Steam and Motor, All Gross Tons”


Thank you, sir.  And I hadn’t known about flanking buoys.

Click here for a 5-minute video by Towboat Toby who gives a really clear explanation as he walks a tow downstream around Wilkerson’s Point in high water.  Towboat Toby, I’m your fan!

So,  what think you, readers . . . and I don’t mean to backpedal on Paul Farrell’s excellent book, could that particular drawing have been modified to improve verisimilitude?  I like the looseness of Mr. Farrell’s drawings for the most part, but I think the Mate makes a good point.  And just calm talk . ..  not punches, please.  The writer makes a reasoned and constructive comment.

You might conclude that in this city I do nothing except sit on the riverbank, but the better conclusion is that Nola river traffic volume is phenomenal.  So here’s a sampling of another–say–two hours total traffic, beginning with a vessel that would look entirely at home in NYC’s sixth boro . . . it’s J. George Betz.


Next something you’ll not see except in the inland big river, O. H. Ingram, 185′ loa x 54′ 9200 hp and triple screw,  pushing


at least eight barges heading into a turn with at least two oncoming tows:


Joe B. Wyatt, 170′ loa x 45′ 6120 hp twin screw,  pushing 18 barges and Mr. Pete with a single, but they all squeeze around the turn.


The range of vessels is interesting, considering the likes of Lil Susan S


and Josephine Anne of Bisso Offshore, with Wise One in the distance.


Natalie S . . . and


Blessed Trinity .  .  . and


and Natures Way Commander . . .


Moose . .  and


CSS Savannah . . . and less than two hours have elapsed and I haven’t included all the traffic!


and let me conclude with a photo taken the previous afternoon, another that would NOT look out of place in NYC’s waters, Greg Turecamo.


More soon.  All photos by Will Van Dorp.


I’m in the sixth boro, but I have more fotos from the southern US, all by a friend who still wishes no credit.  So enjoy –for starters–a NY-built vessel with a New England name working the Neches River via Baltimore in east Texas . . .  Cape Ann.


Signet Valiant (ex-Natalie Cole) in Mississippi . . . with a “special project” to the left.  Signet Valiant should not be confused with a Valiant Signet.


In Texas . . . Corpus Christi, it’s C. R. Haden working


on the stern of USNS Benavidez (T-AKT-306), while Denia leans on the forward portion of the hull.


All 138′ loa of Kirby’s  low-ridin’ Leviticus at Southwest Pass.   I don’t believe they have a Numbers or Deutoronomy.


Alva Dupre (ex-Compass Hero and others) on the Neches in Texas.


And finally, from a barge company, David G. Sehrt, which has previously appeared on this blog here.



I’m dedicating these to Otis Redding . . . .   and I know I’m getting some details wrong and will correct when I’m back.  Thanks much for your comments and corrections.  My day started with Overseas Houston.  I think I just missed Christian Reinauer headed upstream before light in my location;


followed by an upstream flanking turn by B. John Yeager. . .



and more including Custom.


Farther upstream –can you guess where– I caught Catherine S and fleetmates;


Can you identify this massive levee?


Presager‘s background may help.


Creole Sun and a cluster of tugs and barges await while . . .


Myra Epstein powers


a long train of barges,


and churns up the Mississippi cafe au lait.


OK . .  answer tomorrow . . . can you idenify this vessel?


All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who’s headed north along the defining river of this continent.

Quick and succinct:  the way to enter Nola from the east and north is Rte 90.  About 30 miles east of Nola I passed this mystery vessel Poseidon, which looked like a house-forward bulk carrier with a quonset hut over the hold now blown away by a storm.  Anyone know the history?


As sun rose somewhere in a cloudy drizzly day, the first vessel to pass–upbound–was BBC Brazil.


Then a steady stream of traffic moved on the great river . . .  some of them included Amalienborg,


B. John Yeager (?) with at least 13 barges, which round Algiers Point in the most


curious way, which involved backing down, sliding over to the Nola side, and what must have been lots of nail-biting.


Big Sam and a small tow.


From the Algiers side, I checked out Barbara E. Bouchard‘s new pins.


Also on the drydocks at Bollinger’s was Mully and Admiral Jackson.


Alice‘s sister Caroline Oldendorff passed . . . upriver.


And Alley Cat headed downstream herding more barges than would seem possible.


Nola is so much more than all that, and Checkpoint Charlie is a start of that other so-long list, but do check in at Charlie’s when next you’re here.


More soon.  All foto by Will Van Dorp.


From the air you can see the traffic . . . the sinuous lines it scribes into the legendary river.

From the bank, you can see sometimes three tugs abreast (l. to r. Bobby Jones-1966, David G. Sehrt-1965, and Born Again-1974) pushing more than a dozen barges slipping around the turn between Algiers and the 9th Ward.  And when I say slipping, I mean even big vessels seem to slide through this crescent. That erosion in the foreground bespeaks higher water.

Uh . . . a variation on seasnake?

Crescent’s J. K. McLean (2010 at C & G Boatworks of Mobile, AL) and New Orleans (1998 at ThomaSea) maneuver in front of 1995 American Queen.

Close-up of McLean.

Empty Barge Lines’ Grosbec (1980).

Olga G. Stone (1981) pushing oil downbound.

Miss Abby (1960 ?) upbound.

Slatten’s Allison S (1994) light and headed upstream past Bollinger’s.

Ingram Barge Company’s Mark C.  A few years back, I saw Ingram boats all the up in Cincinnati, OH and Pittsburgh, PA.

Another Ingram vessel featured a few days ago . .  . David G. Sehrt.

Vickie (1975) pushing  . . . crushed concrete maybe . . .

Port Allen (1945?!!)

Chelsea (1989)

I’m back at work in environs of the sixth boro, and this is the last set about Nola strictly defined.  Tomorrow I hope to put up some fotos from a jaunt-within-a-gallivant southwest from the Crescent City, a truly magical place to which I really must return soon because there’s much I’ve yet to understand . . . like why

the nola hula only appears to salute certain vessels.

And is it true there’s a nun driving a tugboat somewhere on the Lower Mississippi?  Here’s a ghost story, and if you have a chance to find it, listen to Austin Lounge Lizard’s  “Boudreaux was a Nutcase.”

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who also has tons of fotos from Panama to put up.

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January 2023