Working on the water is a way of life

If you grow up “down the bayou”, working on the water is a way of life. And it’s not a far jump from working on fishing vessels to working on other vessels, like tugboats. My older boys grew up fishing for our table, not commercially, but they both still ended up working on oil industry related tugboats. They are not captains yet, but they could be if they wanted to.

So, Danno, my 20 year old calls me from his cell informing me that he’s pumping petroleum product from tanks on West Lake Decade. He can see the radio tower near our home from the deck of his boat. We know Lake Decade like our own back yard, and it’s a cool feeling to know he is so nearby.

The next morning, he calls to tell me they’ve left the west side of the lake and are headed toward Falgout Canal and will be going through our “swing bridge” in a little while. The two younger boys and I hotfoot it up there just in time to see the barge coming toward us,dantug1.jpg
being pushed by the tugboat.

No sign of Danno yet. Is he in that little cabin up there called the wheelhouse?dantug5.jpg
Younger brother watches excitedly from the boardwalk as Danno steps out of the wheelhouse.


The bridge to our right is opening for passage of the tug and barge. Look at the four pelicans acting like the bridge is swinging wide open just for them! dantug6.jpg
There he is, in all his bushy-headed glory! My second-born son, and the biggest of the four boys, Danno. He won’t admit it, but he has a big, big heart!dantug8.jpg

The bridge, now completely open, is waiting for the barge and tug to come through,

and there goes the tugboat and my son, sniff sniff,

making their way slowly through the swing bridge;dantug11.jpg

and one last wave to his brothers and me, sniff again.

Wait, is that a cell phone to his right ear? Oh, I think I hear my cell phone ringing in m pocket. Ok, gotta go and tell my all grown up son that it was so good to see him.

These are odd moments, when your child is a man, but he’s still your child, when he’s a man who’ll call his mom and isn’t ashamed to wave to her and his brothers as he passes on this very macho steel boat pushing a barge full of crude oil going to points beyond who knows where.

I love you son! Be safe, and come see me soon!

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  1. I love knowing you have 4 sons. I have 5, one currently in Iraq, one just home from the Air Force in Germany, one owns a drilling company, one works in a power plant and one is a banker.

    I identify completely with your pride and your sadness as you watch your sons grow up and start their own adventures. Being a mother isn’t easy; being the mother of sons? Well, you tell me how it is.

    Five sons? Wow! And they are all grown and successful. My hat’s off to you Sue. You really must be proud. My daughter was easier than my sons, but they are all blessings!

  2. Oh, forgot to say–I love watching the barges on the Ohio River. Wonder if your sons will travel this far north?

    When they were working for a larger company, they both went up that way! Now they are working for a smaller company with smaller boats that operate more locally.

  3. wow…excellent pics…I love tug boats 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by. I just passed along your web address to a mechanic friend of mine who is often looking for parts!

  4. Hey, Dan! (wave). Ask him if he can find out why they’re called tug boats when they push things. That has always confused me.

    That is something I have wondered as well. I’ve also heard them called “tow boat” and “push boats”. When a captain wants to upgrade his license to run one of these, it is called a “towing endorsement”, go figure.

  5. I work for a barge company and it’s so neat to see the barges coming in and out of port!

    Tell your son to be safe!

    Yes, I always leave him with that well wish of being safe. Being a tankerman on a petroleum barge can be dangerous business. That’s why I’m glad he recently switched to a smaller company, with smaller barges! His older brother does the same thing for the same company!

  6. What a great experience to see your grown son at work! Your post was so heart-warming! You must be very proud, indeed!

  7. Who would have ever thought we’d have a groomsman with an “afro”. *shakes head*

    or one with multi-colored hair? *covers eyes and shakes head*

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