[S1:E6] If I couldn't have lived my dream of being a professional hydroplane race driver, I would have loved the challenge of being a tug boat skipper. It's true! I've loved tug boats since I was a little kid! I was exposed to tug boats long before I was exposed to racing boats. My family and the Shrewsbury family were close, since I was very young. The Shrewsbury's are the owner's of Western Towboat Company. We were neighbors and my father, Stan, and Bob, the founder of Western Towboat, became great friends. How could they not? They both loved boats and the water with a passion! Bob would recruit my father to help bring back used tugs he bought for his growing tow boat business. My father loved those trips, dearly!
The highlight of my summers as a small child were the tug boat trips our two families would take together. The two families would "steal" one of Western's old wooden tugs for a week and head north. I believe our trips started on one of Western's first big, wooden tug boats, the "Sally S." In later years, we also spent time on a boat called the "Bee." They also had a very small tug called the "Flyer," which I loved too. I loved the "Flyer" because it was so small. I thought of it as a child-sized tug boat, just the right size for a kid like me! I loved everything about those boats, especially the combined smell of wood, creosote, diesel, and salt water! I still love those smells today. We'd fish, crab, cook, use the tender to go ashore to dig clams, and play football on the beach. Man, those were some of the happiest days of my childhood and I am very grateful for those memories.
Some things have changed at Western. The boats are steel now. They build all their own boats and the company is run by Bob Sr.'s sons, Bob Jr. and Rick. Russell, who was the skipper on the boat we shot this segment on, is Bob Jr.'s son. Western Towboat is a total family affair, with family members working throughout the company. There's also dogs in the offices of Western, which I love! Dogs and boats, two of my favorite things in this world. But, some things haven't changed. Like my father Stan before me, I like to hitch a ride on the tugs when I can. I've gone to Alaska as a freeloader and I love to spend a day on a harbor tug when the opportunity arises. I still love it and I proudly where my Western Tow Boat hat every day.
I have great respect for the work tug boats and Western Towboat do. It's intense, highly-skilled work, that requires great teamwork and great communication. Now that I think of it, these are the same skills needed to run a successful race boat team. We broke this tug boat episode into two segments. In Segment One, we moved a very wide barge down the very narrow Duwamish River to the railroad pier on Elliot Bay. It was a very wet, cold, dark day. You'll see. After that was accomplished, we got a call from a Canadian tug boat that needed assistance in turning a barge around in the Duwamish. That's when things got really hairy! It was fun to be there when things got really intense, even though "The Boat Guy" and his trusted crew didn't know how much trouble we were in at the time!