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Towboat jobs in California

by Jim Slaughter
December 2003


Still fighting traffic on the river? Wrestling with six-packs on the Gulf Intracoastal? Towboat pilots accustomed to a heavy workload in the Mississippi River and Gulf South regions may be surprised to learn that they can get good money pushing one or two barges around scenic San Francisco Bay.

The fastest growing boat company in the Bay Area is Westar Marine, which operates an expanding fleet of pushboats, tugboats, crewboats and barges. The reason for the expansion? Bridge construction. There are presently four major bridge projects underway in the Bay Area, including replacement of the earthquake-damaged Oakland Bay Bridge.

The work is child's play for anyone with barge-handling experience, but it turns out that's hard to come by in California. There are plenty of mariners with offshore and assist tug experience, but maneuvering small deck barges and derrick barges around a bridge site is the skill required.

One problem is that most of the companies in the Bay Area work lunchbucket - usually a 12-hour day - so you may have to consider relocating, or at least staying in town during your hitch. Westar is considering setting up one or two live-aboard boats, and is taking applications for same, but has yet to actually do it.

In any event, the bridge construction and retrofitting projects are expected to last at least another five years. An experienced towboat mariner with an OUTV or Master of Towing Vessels or similar license should find him- or herself in demand for quite a while.



Westar Marine's web site, including a hiring page:

San Francisco mariners okay contract with 6 percent raise
(news article)

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a novel by
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How many railroad bridges are there over the Mississippi River? Are you sure? Someone has just blown up two of them, and the FBI must find him and stop him before national security is compromised.

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