Tugboats, Yawlboats, and Pushboats

This month we pivot our lens to tugboats, yawl boats, and push boats, waterborne workhorses that enable much larger vessels to sidle into place in crowded harbors. In many cases, the vessels they service have power of their own, but lack fine maneuverability where it’s needed. A freighter with engines for pushing hundreds of thousands of tons over long stretches of ocean at speed is helpless in tight quarters, especially if her draft confines her to a narrow channel in port. The bridge on a cargo ship is perfect for seeing long distances, but a pilot can’t tell what’s happening right down at the water. Enter the tugboat.

Likewise, sailing schooners, still ubiquitous on the coast of Maine thanks to the passenger trade, are either unpowered when there’s no wind, with their sails lowered, or are similarly hindered by sheer bulk where other vessels lie cheek by jowl at their moorings. Fittingly, a tiny yawl boat using its inboard engine to nudge one of these big schooners into place has been a common sight.

Still other vessels lack power altogether. A big barge is useless without a powerful tug. Notable in this group is a photo of a farmhouse being moved to Monhegan Island from Rockland, Maine; the farmhouse didn’t make the crossing.