Jobs in the towboating industry

  • Typically you work 28 days on and then have 28 days off or some similar schedule
  • While on the boat you work six hours on, six off and six on again
  • The forward watch is usually 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
  • The other periods are called the after watch
  • Adapting to this time schedule takes some getting used to

Many people start out as a deckhand working aboard a tow.

  • Deckhands handle the steel cables that hold the barges secured together
  • At smaller locks the tow has to be separated and then reformed
  • They are responsible for keeping the vessel clean and painted

A variant of a deckhand is someone certified as a  tankerman

  • A tankerman has additional training and annual recertification
  • They are responsible for monitoring transfer of hazardous liquid materials like asphalt or diesel fuel

The next step up is to a mate

  • A mate is a crew chief over the deck department

A steersman is the next step

  • A steersman holds a 500 Ton license
  • He is a trainee working toward becoming a pilot
  • A Towing Officers Assessment Record records his 640 days on training

A pilot is a person holding a Towing Endorsement on their license

  • They are fully qualified to steer and control the tow
  • The lead pilot is often designated as the Captain

Engineers are needed to maintain the engines, gears and generators

  • Engineers typically start out as wipers in the engine room

Cooks normally prepare four meals a day available just before each crew change