The year is 1974. The setting: a tidy, green-and-white mobile home separated from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway by a stand of windswept oaks, a quiet two-lane blacktop and a broad expanse of mudflats and spartina marsh.
Inside, a towheaded, freckle-faced boy hunches over a record player, a book in his hands. The scratchy LP and the book bear the same title, and the boy follows along as the record plays Little Toot.
The story of the feckless tugboat that saved the day and learned the value of hard work, thus earning the respect of his father and all of the other tugs in the harbor, absolutely captivated me for more than an entire year.
Who knows where a thing gets its start?
I do know, for sure, that I wore out several styluses on that old record. And, rather to my surprise more than four decades later, I find myself working on a harbor tug.
There were lots of other experiences and boats and places and wrong turns and necessary detours along the way, but this somehow seems right and familiar.
That kid in South Texas also spent a lot of time looking up at docks and ships (usually while fishing at the oil terminal where his father worked). Today, I still spend a lot of time looking (mostly, but not always, up) at docks and ships. Like I said, familiar.
But also waaaay different than some other segments of the industry in which I've worked.
So, this is about that.
If you'd like to read about some of the other stuff, please stop by Crewboat Chronicles or Water Wilderness. It's all of a piece, more or less.