WORKING LIFE ‌ Patrick Scanlan 

Toot toot goes the tugboat

"I'm from Boston, so I grew up in the harbor. I worked various jobs on the water, and found out that I loved it so much I should make a career of it. I started out with pleasure boats and then moved on to water taxis and shuttles. I've been on this boat for just over two years. The boat and company are based out of Boston too. It's a seven-and-a-half-day trip nonstop from there to here. They call the boat Captain Gary, but I'm the captain. I got my license in 1999; it even says 'master.' Mostly we do a lot of dredging, or deepening the harbor channels for bigger ships. We are basically pushing barges all around, wherever they need them. I work as far north as Portland, Maine. Actually, I just moved down here. I packed my truck up and moved. Weather-wise and people — it's beautiful. Of all the cities I've been to, this is the best.

"I have a little apartment here now. I haven't slept there yet because we live on the boat when we work. It's a lot easier waking up on the job. We work 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week. It's usually two weeks on, one week off, and you rotate. Typically, there are two captains, a deck hand, and an engineer. You have to be able to get along with your crew. I've been here since August blowing this stuff [leftover concrete pier columns from the old bridge] up. The job has been a lot of fun in that way. Most of my work will still be in the Northeast, and there is a lot of dredging going on in New York.

"We really should be painting the boat, but it's too hot. This job is about 90 percent boredom — I read and do crossword puzzles — and 10 percent sheer terror." —As told to Lynsy Smithson Stanley


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