How many ET members out there work on boats andor ships either now or in the past

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Jan 7, 2002
First off my apologies ahead of time to the moderators- i'm not sure which thread to put this under...

I'm curious if any of my fellow ET members work (or have worked) on boats and/or ships- be it Navy ships, cargo ships, cruise ships, lobster boats, fishing boats, ferries, tankers, etc....

I work on the inner harbor ferries in Boston Harbor-
I've worked for both Boston Harbor Cruises and Massachusetts Bay Lines, and have worked on all of the 25 odd boats between the two rival ferry companies-mainly as a deck hand. But I narrated tours of the harbor, and sometimes narrate the whale watches..I'll post some photos soon....

Inger Sheil

Feb 9, 1999
I work *with* historic vessels of many types, Tarn, but not on or in them from day to day (although I do spend a bit of time on them, including our operational vessels).

The whale watching must be fun - I remember doing one out of Boston many years ago. First and only time I've ever seen an ocean sunfish, in addition to the whales we saw.

david wilson

Mar 17, 2003
Tarn,I work in the pilbara region of western australia,in a 2 wks on,2 wks off basis.My company contract to Pilbara iron (Rio Tinto)& it is our job as boilermakers & fitters to maintain the equipment which loads the ships with this highly sought after iron ore.The equipment is made up of car dumpers, conveyors,chutes,crushers & screens(sieves).The ore is mined 400-500kms inland,from places like yandi coogina,tom price,newman,west angeles & a few other places.Last in line is the shiploader which spews the ore into the ship's nine holds (app 150k tonnes.This takes app 36hrs & there are always 6-7 more ships waiting on the horizon.This operation is 24x7x365.The operator for the shiploader is virtually in charge of the whole plant.
I served my apprentice as a ship's plater in the yard that built the "olympics".I worked in the shed & on the gantrys.I have also worked on oiltankers,gastankers,obos,frigates,assault ship & an aircraftcarrier.I was at the launches of the canberra & the southern cross.
seven degrees west
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
I'm retired from the sea and about the only time I get on the water is when Mum and i go see either the USS North Carolina or the USS Yorktown for our warship fix. I've served on the following:

USS Ranger (CV-61)
USS Mahlon S. Tisdale (FFG-27)
USS Germantown (LSD-42)
USS Comstock (LSD-45) Commissioning crew.
USS George Washington (CVN-73)

Twenty years service and five WestPac deployments. It wasn't always fun and could be damned scary at times (There's nothing like a mainspace fire next to an ammunition magazine to get the adrenalin pumping) but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Oct 28, 2000
At the moment, I operate what I am told is the smallest Coast Guard inspected passenger vessel in the United States fleet. At just 20 feet LOA and 14 passengers, I doubt the record is likely to be reduced. The boat is named "Iggy" after an American TV character of several seasons back. (I did not choose it, but the paperwork for changing isn't worth the effort.) This fine vessel runs an route suitable to its diminutive size--984 feet dock-to-dock. The average "cruise" lasts just under 4 minutes.

-- David G. Brown
Apr 24, 2002
I did work on the TSS Topaz formery The Canadian Pacific Liner Empress of Britain as a Purser - which is now the Peace ship I believe


Dennis Smith

Aug 24, 2002
Hi Tarn,

My first experience of boats came when was 8 years of age (1957). I helped (hindered) the local RNLI Cox on a small passenger boat carrying 40 people on trips to the lighthouse here in Llandudno, North Wales, seasonal work only, up to the age of 14, when I became skipper of another boat. I later became Piermaster in the town working very closely with the officers and crew of ships from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co.

After this I spent the next 17 years at sea on cargo ships of every description as Radio Officer and Radio /Electronics Officer Until forced redundancy in 1989.

Best Wishes and Rgds

Aug 10, 2002
Hello Tarn:
I sailed for eight years in American Export Isbrandtsen Lines, on freighters, container ships, the Nuclear Ship Savannah, and passenger ships. For thirty five years I've been a professor at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine Maine.
Charlie Weeks
Jan 7, 2002
I'm trying to post a pic of the vessel I work on, but can't seem to upload it for some reason..

Any chance you could upload an image of the vessel you work on (or have worked on)?
Jan 7, 2002
Hi Charles
The last few years I have worked during the summer for Massachusetts Bay Lines and Boston Harbor Cruises as a deckhand and harbor tour narrator. These days I work part time on weekends as a deckhand at Massachusetts Bay lines..(and teach during the week)
Quite a few of the captains are Maine Maritime and Mass Maritime graduates. Quite a few former coasties as well...
At BHC, I worked with Capt. Chuck Stockbridge (of the MV Edward Rowe Snow) for a few years-He's a Maine Maritime graduate (from the mid 1980s)-perhaps you know him? He does the daily commuter run back and forth between Boston and Charlestown. I believe he worked on container ships for a few years before landing his position at BHC...
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina

Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Hello there!

I went to sea when I was 15 as a Navigation Apprentice.

I retired a couple of years ago from my last job as a Harbour Master.

During a total of 43 years actually on the water, I sailed on every conceivable vessel including cargo tramps, VLC tankers, ore carriers, passenger liners, tugs, supply vessels and even Self-propelled Semi-Submersible Oil Barges in almost every part of the world. I am a Master Mariner (FG) -that's in 'old money!
Additionally, I owned and sailed a 42 ft cruiser and a 25ft sailing boat for pleasure (when I had time).

For a number of years, I was principal Marine Surveyor and Tow Master with a US company who's headquarters were in New Orleans. I eventually was their field VP for Europe.

I was ashore for a few years during which I trained in Atmospheric and Hydrocarbon gases engineering research and development but went back to sea after I discovered I preferred Typhoon to Tycoon!.

Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
>>I discovered I preferred Typhoon to Tycoon!. <<

Says quite a lot about the tycoons, doesn't it? At least with the sea, you know where you stand!
May 31, 2006
For those who have "gone down to the sea in ships" there are any number of reflections brought to mind that help explain why that experience was meaningful and has created such a hold on one's imagination, even after the fact. My own service in the US Navy, while occurring one-half century ago, still resonates. I recently came across the attached letter on the USS Algol website that expresses many of my own feelings about my service and I recommend it for all those who wish to understand the appeal of this experience for so many:


Letter submitted by Bill and Bev Unruh
The Navy

I liked standing on the bridge wing at sunrise with salt spray in my face and clean ocean winds whipping in from the four quarter of the globe the destroyer beneath me filling like a living thing as her engines drove her swiftly through the sea.

I liked the sounds of the Navy - the piercing trill of the boatswain’s pipe, the syncopated clangor of the ship’s bell on the quarterdeck, the harsh squawk of the 1MC, and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.

I liked Navy vessels - nervous darting destroyers, plodding fleet auxiliaries and amphibs, sleek submarines and steady solid aircraft carriers.

I liked the proud names of Navy ships; Midway, Lexington, Saratoga, Coral Sean, Antietam, Valley Forge - - memorials of great battles won and tribulations overcome.

I liked the lean angular names of Navy “tin-cans” and escorts - Barney, Dahlgren, Mullinix, McClow, Damato, Leftwich, Mills - - mementos of heroes who went before us. And the others - - San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles, St. Paul, Chicago - - named for our cities.

I liked the tempo of a navy band blaring through the topside speakers as we pulled away from the oiler after refueling at sea.

I liked liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port

I even liked the never ending paperwork and all hands working parties as my ship filled herself with he multitude of supplies, both mundane and to cut ties to the land and carry out her mission anywhere on the globe where there was water to float her.

I liked sailors, officers and enlisted men from all parts of the land, farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England, from the cities, the mountains and the prairies, from all walks of life. I trusted and depended on them as they trusted and depended on me — for professional competence, for comradeship, for strength and courage. In a word, they were “shipmates”; then and forever.

I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when the word was passed: “Now set the special sea and anchor details — all hand to quarters for leaving port” and I liked the infectious thrill of sighting hoe again, with the waving hands of welcome from family and friends waiting pier side.

The work was hard and dangerous; the going rough at times; the parting from loved ones painful, but the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the “all for one and one for all” philosophy of the sea was ever present.

I liked the serenity of the sea after a day of hard ship”s work, as flying fish flitted across the wave tops and sunset gave way to night.

I liked the feel of the Navy in darkness — the masthead and range lights, the red and green navigation lights and stern light, the pulsating Phosphorescence of radar repeaters — they cut through the dusk and joined with the mirror of stars overhead. And I liked the drifting off to sleep lulled by the myriad noises large and small that told me that my ship was alive and well and that my shipmates on watch would keep me safe.

I liked quiet midwatches with the aroma of strong coffee — the lifeblood of the Navy permeating everywhere.

And I liked hectic watches when the exacting minuet of haze-gray shapes racing at flank speed kept all hands on a razor edge of alertness.

I liked the sudden electricity of “General quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations” followed by the hurried clamor of running feet on ladders and the resounding thump of watertight doors as the ship transformed herself in a few brief seconds from a peaceful workplace to a weapon of war — ready for anything.

And I liked the sight of space-age equipment manned by youngsters clad in dungarees and sound-powered phones that their grandfathers would still recognize.

I liked the traditions of the navy and the men and women who made them. I liked the proud names of Navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John Paul Jones, and Burke. A sailor could find much in the Navy: comrades-in-arms, pride in self and country, mastery of the seaman”s trade. An Adolescent could find adulthood.

In years to come, when sailors are home from the sea, they will still remember with fondness and respect ocean in all its” moods — the impossible shimmering mirror calm and storm-tossed green water surging over bow. And there will come again a faint whiff of stack gas, faint echo of engine and rudder orders, a vision of bright bunting of signal flags snapping at the yardarm, a refrain of hearty laughter in the wardroom and chief”s quarters and mess decks.

Gone ashore for good they will grow wistful about their Navy days, when the seas belonged to them and a new port of call was ever over the horizon.

Remembering this, they will stand taller and say, “I WAS A SAILOR ONCE”
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