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The Hybrid or Gulf - Cajun Towboat!
Gulf Shipyards have created for many years, an all purpose = Vessel .... Well Almost! Because it borrows much from the tugboat - itself, but also uses a typical towboat hull designs! Keep In Mind Here, Stylish Lines don't make profits, but its easier to look at with a little - Sex Appeal. So the Hybrid or as their usually called = Cajun Towboats, have their advantages and place. Because "Cajun Towboats" certainly have a few extra curves - In Places, where other boats don't even have = PLACES! .....
But in comparison to "Upper River - Designs, Gulf Shipyards that build "Hybrids" of all towboats, which is often called a Cajun Boat because they are unique to southern gulf regions and their area's - builders. Seemingly an attempt to create a vessel with both "Deep & Shallow" Water Characteristics, married together with tugboat traits like - "Bulwarks", which are those "Solid Steel" side-railings, extended completely around the main decks on a Tug. Naturally that makes the Cajun - look a lot like a Tug, to the average person that doesn't know - the differences in work boats. And when you add the use of "Water Tight" Doors = called Hatches ..... These vessels are often mistakenly called - River Tugs. Being mainly why there is and has been so-much confusion today, about "Which Is Which" in Workboat Class. and what these boats are supposed to be called? Having both - Blue Water & Brown Water = Characteristics, allows Cajun boats to operate within unprotected ocean waters ( during calm periods = Or Light Sea Condition's ), as well as inland river traitss too. Makes these boats most suitable for work on the Gulf - Inter Coastal Canal ways. That's a man made dug-out river channel, which extends along our southern coastline, widely used by these types of towboats. Actually its just - off shore and somewhat protected by barrier islands and extends along our shore lines from Florida's - west coast, down to Brownsville Texas. And then also extends further up Florida's - Eastern Coastline, to almost "New York City" before it ends.
Gulf shipbuilders do things differently from Upper River Shipyards, which sort-of creates the argument about whose boats are better designed? Today a used "Cajun Towboat" still brings a much lower price, when compared to the same size & type of vessel, built by an upper river shipyard. "Why - You Ask?"...... Because of several reasons actually, which involve the way many - Cajun boats were designed or how they're equipped. For example, take their = "Flanking Rudders", which are often arranged on the hull, in odd ways that reduces their abilities to steer in Reverse. Many used Cajun Boat - buyers, dry-dock and redo the steering, before they do anything else to these used boats, because they handle poorly in reverse. Gulf shipbuilders have dor sometime, felt towboats only need 2 Flanking Rudders ), while Upper Shipyards always installed = 4, on twin screw vessels of the same size. That's because upper river shipyards - understood fast currents and their effects on these boats, when working in very tightly cramped spaces. But it took a while before such ideas - spread and became common place. Also upper shipyards install flanking rudders, so they're spread apart at the forward ends, to actually scoop water into the props for better thrust.
Mounted just inside of the diameters of the Propellers - Widths, is a common Upper River Trait. While some lower Gulf Shipyards, seemed to consider that a waste of time, which they finally had to follow - As everyone was converting their designs to use this trait. So often, you find older Cajun boats with flanking rudder problems - Or did, until buyer's started demanding changes in these area's. But some boat designers - didn't or wouldn't change, so they lost out, to those willing to see the light. And when a boat can last over 50+ years in service, its bound to be sold several times and go through many refits, A lot of changes under different owners - over the years and you begin to see how such things - effect the value of boats. When a major refit is so expensive, buyers look at used boats - first, for the least need of rebuilding, to drastically save money in buying & rebuilding. And for early Cajun Boats, it simply became to expensive to rebuild them and many were scrapped. Operational service time, on a vessel is critical to its profitablity and that forced the changes to more modern boat designs. So in some cases, builders were simply stuborn and refused to change, so they were bought out or closed So this all makes a lot of sense, when you realize its like saying - Your Boat ( Or Its Designer & Builders - Idea's ), "Ain't Worth A Hoot!" ....... When the boat doesn't get resold and change hands with any amount of service time on it. Means there's more to profitability, then just cost effective designs, and a builder's eego at stake, because the longer yer boat - Runs, the more others want yer designs!
Weird Look'un - Towboats"
The "Retractable Helm" - or often called a "Jack-Up", is also often called a = Jack'er too. Built as Tenders, Trip boats, Line Haulers and also a few super large - Long Haulers. these odd looking boats are rated from 500 to 5,000+ horsepower. Built as Single & Twin Screws usually, but there are also a few "Triple Screws too". And they can show characteristics of either - Upper or Lower River styles, in shipyard designs, As a "Cajun Jacker", you'll naturally find "Bulwarks" - or a solid railing around their main decks, which is a common give away in whom built it. Those built by Upper Shipyards - won't have these traits, so there can be a vast difference in their looks and shapes. Looking more typical of all upper designed boats, they all have the hydraulic - raised helm. And of course, some builders specialize in these types of vessels, built in all classed sizes, as well as for special jobs that require their unique capabilities = Of Ducking Under - Things, Or Going where other towboats - CAN'T!
( Photos by Joe E. Brown )
Affectionately called - THE UGLIEST BOATS - AFLOAT!
YEP! ... There are truly some weird look'un boats = Out there! Some as they humbly put things in Towboat Slang = "Just Pure = BUTT UGLY!" ......... However looks - Sure Don't Make a Profit in type of Workboat, as any "River- Rat" will also quickly point out. But these 2 - examples ( Above ) show how some Jack-ups, help put extra = Ug .... in Ugly. And while Beauty may only be "Skin Deep" in this case, it sure appears ugly went plum to the Bone on these vessels. Or seems to have, until you look closely at what these boats are especially designed to do, and just how easily - They Do-it. Then that Ugly - Odd looking design they're well known for, suddenly takes on a whole new kind of Beauty = All Its Own!
Note both of the above vessels carry the same features ( A "Retractable Helm" ), which is the main reason for their - odd and often rather ugly looks. Called "JACK-UP's" or Jack'ers, the helm is mounted atop Hydraulic Hoists that allows the pilot to "Raise or Lower" the helm, whenever needed. This allows the vessel to - duck down low, when going under a low bridge that normally would restrict any other taller vessel. So Getting under things - so to speak, is exactly what these boats were designed for, and their real great to have around in High Water Times Too. When a normal boat can't get under a bridge, these boats step-in and take barges further upriver and continue the trip, where others - can't go. So they play a very special role in river barge transportation of materials = past the difficult points. ( Note the left photo - Above ), shows the retractable - Helm - In its "Down Position". While the photo on the right - shows the Helm - Raised, to its highest points. Demonstrating how these boats - look, in either case, some can raise their helms, well over 30' above the "Main Deck" to give pilots a clearer view over barges and their cargo. Jacker's are popular on all rivers, but mostly used on the Illinois, lower Gulf regions and where a lot of rivers merge into the Mississippi - which have low bridges or lower than normal obstructions to navigate!
Above Special Photo - Details Note the Right Photo - above, also shows a vessel equipped with a pair of "Stern Mounted" - PUSH KNEE'S. Indicating the boat is also used, as a "Bow Boat" as its called, in some of its work.. That means the boat can be used to steer - the head or forward lead - barges, of a large tow. By lashing - its Stern, to the head of the tow, or leading barges, in order to steer the forward part of the barges. While another towboat pushes - the stern, in a typical fashion. This is often done when barges haul something that restricts a pilots clear view, and requires a second boat to assist the tow to its destination. And its not uncommon to see = two vessels handling what usually looks like a - One Boat Operation, which has some sort of difficulties, that may not be obvious to observers, but its always interesting to watch!