There are fewer and fewer single screw tugboats around these days. And a captain who knows how to operate them is another rarity. However, there is the legendary Captain Silva, a good friend of mine, and master of most anything afloat, including these old boats with a single propeller and lots of history. Thus, he and I traveled to visit one of the smaller incarnations of such nautical engineering just the other day, a boat he operates from time to time, named the Thomas Brown. This tug was in drydock for some love and affection as you can see below:
The guys are working to reattach the bow fender, which is no easy task given that it has to be bent and pulled fast to the shape of the hull. Here is a shot of stern:
You can see the scale of the hull and that single propeller by comparing both to the man standing on the right. The propeller is about six feet in diameter, which may sound large, but is actually small as things go in these matters. This boat has an engine that develops a mere 850 horsepower. Here’s a closer look at that prop.
It’s all shiny and clean for today. Won’t be long before this boat is back in the water, towing barges, nudging larger vessel to the dock, and roaming the harbor in search of work. The Thomas Brown is a handsome boat, one that features traditional lines that passed down from the earliest of vessels. It’s also the last of a breed. Single screw boats are simply not built anymore. So, when this one is finished, it’ll be lost to the scrapper’s torch. But not yet! There’s still work to be done.