Photo Tour of a San Francisco Tugboat

Arthur Foss

Tugboat Marshall Foss

Cut the Lines

I don’t know if this has ever been measured scientifically, but I suspect that among white-collar workers who toil in San Francisco’s downtown high-rise office buildings, the incidence of Tugboat Envy probably approaches 100 percent.

The symptoms are as easy to identify: From your lofty downtown office perch, you gaze out the window at the San Francisco Bay, and you notice a tugboat hard at work out on the water. And wistfully you think, “Wow. Wouldn’t it be fun to give up this cubicle gig and get a job on that boat?”

Galley Porthole

Sound familiar? For anyone who has ever experienced Tugboat Envy, I come with information about what it’s really like aboard a hard-working San Francisco tugboat.

Tugboat Control Panel

Tugboat Marshall Foss

A few months ago I had the opportunity to spend the day aboard the Marshall Foss, a modern tractor-tug built in 2001. Equipped with two twin-turbocharged diesels, sophisticated Z-drive propeller thrusters, and a computerized bridge, life aboard the Marshall Foss is a bit like working on the railroad, and a bit like living in an aquatic RV. Her crews are on duty for 15 day shifts, which are followed by 15 days off. Their duties take them all over the Bay as they help ships of all sizes navigate tides, piers, waterways, and other unpleasant obstacles to maritime commerce.

I took lots of pictures, so now at least you can go on a virtual tour of a San Francisco tugboat *before* you quit your day job.

photo gallery: Tugboat Marshall Foss

photos by Todd Lappin (Telstar Logistics)

Todd Lappin
Todd Lappin