Earlier in the summer I was on Jaguar doing a sand barge docking job. Easy money for us, run through the bridge ahead of the other tug and their barge, then throw up a two-part head line and help push the barge into its slip. Coming out we pull her out at a 90, hold it for a second while they get in push gear, and help turn the barge around to line up for the bridge opening. The job has a few challenges, one being that the slip it goes in is exactly as long as the barge is. The second and related challenge is that scallop boats are docked on either end of the slip, often two or three deep. So it’s a tight fit! They generally come once a week from New haven, and are only in New Bedford for 6-7 hours. So it’s also a pretty easy run for them.
Now that you have some back ground I’m going to show you a picture. It shows the rake of a barge, on which you will notice a white smudge.
That white smudge was left by a 20-25ft Grady White that ran into the lit barge the night before, in between Block Island and Point Judith. The three people on board probably still don’t realize that there were within 5-10 feet of being drunk and dead, as opposed to drunk and lucky as hell. The part of this that really irks me is that the coast guard will find little fault with the operators of that Grady White for two reasons. A.) they came from the starboard of the tug and barge and technically have right of way. B.) The only person with something to lose, is the watch stander on the tug with a license and a lively hood. So next time you decide to boat drunk, just remember that it may cost you your life, and someone their lively hood.