Queens. "Although our loan had been approved," says Capt. Poling, "we'd underestimated how long it would take for the money to actually be funded. Beyond what we did ourselves, the boat needed yard time. We put on our best suits, and approached John Caddell, owner and Steve Kalil, president of Caddell Shipyard who agreed to an assignment of our future loan in order to get the plan running. We ended up sailing the Queen long before the SBA loan was consummated." The first customers included Getty Petroleum, in Mount Vernon. "The Queen is especially suited to getting up there" up the Hutchinson River, says Capt. Poling. "Besides the Queen going to Mt. Vernon, we also procured some work out into Jamaica Bay." Frederick Carment was operations manager for the young company. "He got the orders," says Capt. Poling, "he kept the boat busy, and the company gained momentum. Since Gary and I were confined to the boat, a lot of the shoreside burdens were put on Rick." Momentum continued to grow. "We had some handshake deals with additional customers, and we saw that it was an opportune time to mobilize the John B. Caddell. We crewed-up the Queen with steady crew, and put our attention to the second tanker." She required a lot more than the Queen did. "Having been mothballed, she needed a lot of steelwork, a lot of engine work -- getting one generator running, then another, then the main engine working, de-scaling the tanks. Then in September of 1996 we brought her into the shipyard." She finally sailed in January of 1997 The partners kept their overhead low in part by making the company a family operation, in the best tradition of the maritime business. Evelyn Cutler is company treasurer, Patricia Poling is corporate sec- retary. But even with expenses kept low, the object of the exercise was to bring in the work. The Fleet Doubles In 1998, the remaining holdings of the old Poling Transportation were slated for bankruptcy auction, and the partners eyed two of the available assets. One was the 30,000-BBL Barge No. 23. The other was the Captain Sam, a 22,000-BBL canal tanker built in 1934 as the Socony Poughkeepsie, renamed in the Poling Transportation epoch for Capt. Poling's greatgrandfather. "We had no work for the additional equipment at the time," says Capt. Poling, "but we'd had some informal talks and saw potential. At the bankruptcy auction, Arnold Witte put in a bid for everything that was for sale, and got all vessels en bloc." Capt. Poling describes his father, Ed Sr., an old friend of Arnold, speaking with Mr. Witte in the hallway. The conversation led to the sale of the tanker and barge to the partners at a price commensurate with Mr. Witte's cost for each, "very fair" in Capt. Poling's words. "The barge came in first. It represented an entirely new direction for us with a lot of uncertainties, but it was the logical starting point for our next step. We acquired both on spec, but the crew would be two men for the barge versus seven for the tanker. So we had the barge towed to Caddells, and spent every day there with it. We would identify what we thought needed to be done, then the Coast Guard would identify what they required to be done." Built for the canal, this particular barge was well-suited for waterways like those frequented by Poling & Cutler. "She was built with six cargo tanks, and later received a new midsection," says Capt. Poling. "So now she has nine tanks on After arriving from Russia Capt. Igor began with P&C as a tankerman, worked his way up to the house of the John B. Caddell. (Photo: Don Sutherland) each side -- eighteen compartments. You get big biceps turning valves on that barge." But the barge started attracting business. "We were able to secure Agway Fuel as a steady customer, practically out of the box," says Capt. Poling, and with additional business in Rockaway, only one more element was required: a tug to move the barge. "We spoke with Steve Kalil, and he mentioned a few different tugboat companies, one being Kosnac. Fred had the Margot, built for the canal and well-suited for our waters, and Fred could make the Margot do tricks. But then we got blindsided by the twin-screw ruling. We had to go to another company because Fred didn't have the June K. yet. We went to United Pilots." Regrettably, that meant looking for a tug again, soon. "We met Chris Roehrig in the shipyard -- one of his tugs was ahead of us in the drydock. After careful consideration we agreed to a towing contract with Roehrig Maritime." So now they could turn to the third tanker, the Capt. Sam. The Same Old Surprise Out of her time and place, the Capt. Sam looked odd. Don't all tankers have the bridge back on the aft house, like the Coral Queen and the John B. Caddell? How did this one's wheelhouse get pushed forward, three-quarters of the way to the bow? A review of historic photos from John Callaghan at the New York State Canal Corp. shows this boat's odd features to have been typical, then and there in the canal's oil heyday. Low sterns, separate wheelhouses, and bows befitting the Great Lakes appear in many pictures of tankers on the canal, back when the Socony Poughkeepsie was built. That was a long time ago, and it's not altogether clear how many more of the type are to be Technology is layered in the Coral Queen's wheelhouse, brass speaking tubes and telegraphs in their old places while A.I.S. readers and digital navigation systems take new ones. (Photo: Don Sutherland) found here or there. The Captain Sam had been laid-up, and gradually grew "lighter and lighter in the water" as things were picked off "little by little, by thieves in the night," including the brass telegraph. But the business plan had not included maintaining a museum in the first place. Good thing, as it turns out. The 1934 build had been enlarged "in the late 1950s," says Capt. Poling, "when they cut off the bow and stern, and put in a new midsection, adding about 6500BBL capacity and about 60 feet to her length -- though she still fit canal locks. The high bow is an addition, as she was designed with as low a profile as possible. A hydraulic ram could lower the wheelhouse," although that feature is now disabled. But beyond an interesting history, "Capt. Sam became the project of a lifetime," says Capt. Poling. "We vastly underestimated what would be required, but when the Coast Guard indicated what they expected, it gave us a jolt. It strained our budget." For times have changed since 1934, in the environment in general, the workplace in particular. "We had to pull apart all the rooms for asbestos inspection. Everything inside the aft quarters was oaken woodwork, brass striking plates on doorways, really goodlooking period workmanship. The Coast Guard said we had to pull out all of this in each room in the after house to visually inspect the steel -- and break the cement floors to examine the steel decks" The partners argued their case to no avail, "so, we ended up tearing up the quarters, destroying a good deal of the meticulous craftsmanship in the aft house." Much to their further dismay, the Coast Guard had been right. "There were areas of thin steel we wouldn't have discovered. The crew often leaves their portholes open creating a drip-drip-drip of saltwater, and a lot of damage gets done 22 · MarineNews · February, 2007
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