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Thread: Blowing for tugs

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    Newbie graysonlad's Avatar
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    Default Blowing for tugs

    The expression "blowing for tugs" is one in common use with ex sailors.
    In general it has come to mean that "I am out of breath," that's the way my doctor uses it.
    But when used on the water by ships/boats how do or did a vessel call for assistance.
    As a boy, over fifty years ago, I recall the river Mersey full of ship and tugs dashing all over the river competing for towing work. Tugs owned by companies like: Cock Tugs. Lamys Tugs. Rea Tugs. Alexandria Towing. How did they communicate with vessels and vessels communicate with them.


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    Hi,
    Blowing for tugs has always been a seafaring expression for being knackered or out of breath as long as I have been going away to sea when I started 58 years ago.

    When a ship is arriving at a port, the agents usually order the required number of tugs, Some shipping Companies had a regular contract with certain Tug Companies.
    In the old days before VHF radio, the ship and tugs had signals by the steam whistle, e.g. Heave to Starboard ,...one blast. heave to Port,.... two blasts.
    heave ahead ,...three blasts. and so on.
    Then when VHF Radio came into use the Pilot or Master talked to the Tug Skipper and gave the orders verbally.
    Now today most ships have bow and stern thrusters so eliminating the need for tugs, and only use them if the conditions are not too good eg in a strong wind or a tight squeese trying to get on or off a berth.

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    Senior Member Davec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by graysonlad View Post
    The expression "blowing for tugs" is one in common use with ex sailors.
    In general it has come to mean that "I am out of breath," that's the way my doctor uses it.
    But when used on the water by ships/boats how do or did a vessel call for assistance.
    As a boy, over fifty years ago, I recall the river Mersey full of ship and tugs dashing all over the river competing for towing work. Tugs owned by companies like: Cock Tugs. Lamys Tugs. Rea Tugs. Alexandria Towing. How did they communicate with vessels and vessels communicate with them.
    Cock Tugs?

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    Newbie student7's Avatar
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    Default Blowing for tugs is mentioned in a new book about the humour of the Liverpool Dockers

    The book is called 'Heave a Bit, Driver: Seven Miles of Laughter'. Check it out at www.tonyandlorrainesanders.com

    It's packed full of hysterical tales from the Liverpool Docks during the 1960s. Anyone who wants laugh after laugh won't want to miss this!

    Quote Originally Posted by graysonlad View Post
    The expression "blowing for tugs" is one in common use with ex sailors.
    In general it has come to mean that "I am out of breath," that's the way my doctor uses it.
    But when used on the water by ships/boats how do or did a vessel call for assistance.
    As a boy, over fifty years ago, I recall the river Mersey full of ship and tugs dashing all over the river competing for towing work. Tugs owned by companies like: Cock Tugs. Lamys Tugs. Rea Tugs. Alexandria Towing. How did they communicate with vessels and vessels communicate with them.

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    Newbie Berger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by graysonlad View Post
    The expression "blowing for tugs" is one in common use with ex sailors.
    In general it has come to mean that "I am out of breath," that's the way my doctor uses it.
    But when used on the water by ships/boats how do or did a vessel call for assistance.
    As a boy, over fifty years ago, I recall the river Mersey full of ship and tugs dashing all over the river competing for towing work. Tugs owned by companies like: Cock Tugs. Lamys Tugs. Rea Tugs. Alexandria Towing. How did they communicate with vessels and vessels communicate with them.
    One prolonged blast, I require tugs; blowing for tugs

    One short blast, ? I am altering course to starboard?
    Two short blasts, ?I am altering course to port?
    Three short blasts, ?My engines are going astern?
    Five short blasts, to let another vessel know that you are unsure of his intentions.
    In the event of VHF breakdown these signals are still current.

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