lube oil leak. "The McAllister yard was fantastic. Steve Kicklighter let us into the shop to find the pipe fittings we needed. While the boat was in Charleston, we had Moran Environmental Services vacuum the bilge." Capt. Vinik would ordinarily have steered the boat all the way north, but this voyage had to be trusted to his crew and Capt. Stuart Davidson. His lifelong dream had been to join the Sandy Hook Pilots, and the Tug's long journey overlapped his date of appearance as an apprentice. "My first day on the pilot boat, I walked up to the pilot house, said hello to the skipper, looked up, and coming up Sandy Hook channel was this yellow rubber ducky." Capt. Vinik says his reason for starting a tugboat company was to show his mettle, and to prove qualified for an organization like Sandy Hook. He thought of the benefits of a reliable income, the responsibility of the job, the respect for the position. Why be a laughingstock, in two ports no less? But evidently, something changed since the early dreams. "I got there," to Sandy Hook, where lot of good folks would like to get, "and missed tugboating," says Capt. Vinik of his five days' tenure with the Pilots. Infectious Nature Capt. Vinik occasionally mentions what more seasoned mariners keep to themselves, that it's a great thing to work tugboats. The light always changes, the colors, the waters, the traffic, items to be careful of, items to get done. Some of these items are small in the scale of history, but big enough anyway -- the barge you assist is two blocks long and there are things everywhere. It takes full commitment, and some people wouldn't have it otherwise. But even beyond the well-motivated or the skilled or the insightful, where does someone get anybody at all, as the personnel situation presently stands? Some of the crew on the Vinik Marine boats happen to be, by no big surprise, acquaintances from SUNY Maritime, which Capt. Vinik attended. Besides maritime skills, the school also hones networks. "I was getting into a cab for a meeting, suit and tie," says Sam Zapadinsky, who'd elected a land-based engineering career after maritime school, "and it's Mike, saying come work with me." He gave it due thought, then showed-up at the Dorothy. Then, broadened a bit further on the Normandy followed by the Sandmaster, he took a turn as mate with Capt. Stuart Davidson on the Dorothy. As we went to press, a round of tests produced a new 200-ton Captain. Zapadinsky, with master of towing endorsement. Plenty of others have come straight out of Maritime to Vinik Marine, degree or not. Crew compositions change, of course, but one day aboard the Charles, someone computed the average age of both crews at a shade under thirty, weighted disproportionately by the 45-year-old deckhand. Then someone remembered the 20-year-old deckhand. Guys at that age move fast, and leap tall hurdles in single bounds. Capt. Vinik's eighteen-year-old cousin thought he might possibly lower the average age that much more. Career Path Most of the old-timers say that most of the new kids in the business want to start in the wheelhouse, and they're almost correct. The deck is a stepping-stone, in some minds it seems, which one must set foot on to get to the ladder. But in the world of tugboating there's much to know, and the deck may have more gravitational pull than expected. The gravity consists of the specialties of learning the art and craft of it all. "With an engineer," says Capt. Vinik, "you can say 'put the thing on the other thing,' and the engineer understands it. It doesn't happen that way on deck. So if you can't speak with your words you have to use your pointing. The deckhand has to know how MDH HEADSET BELOW: The Dorothy gives an in-and-out to a barge on a river somewhere in New Jersey, using controls nobody thought of when they installed that big sculpture. (Photo: Don Sutherland) Fits underneath most helmets including PASGT, MICH and ACH TruLinkTM PORTABLE TRANSCEIVER For wireless, hands-free communication LVISŪ CREW CONNECTION POINT Wired access & power to support ANR headwear and charge portable transceivers Crew Communication System complete, integrated intercom system with wired/wireless functionality designed and tested to meet the most demanding marine conditions net-centric VoIP platform NMEA 0183 connectivity robust protection against RFI/EMI LVISŪ RADIO INTERFACE /INTERCOM CONTROL Interconnects onboard radio systems, crew connection points, and portable transceivers GENTEX ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC PRODUCTS 2456 Brown Avenue · Manchester NH 03103 USA · TEL: 603.657.1200 · FAX: 603.657.1201 See us at the MACC Conference Booth #A18. w w w. l v i s s y s t e m . c o m / m n 0 7 0 5 May, 2007 · MarineNews · 23
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